After quarterbacking Poolesville to its first football playoff appearance in seven years in the fall, he has carried that success over to the hardwood. A 6-foot, 160-pound point guard, Carmack helped the Falcons (16-4, 11-3) clinch the Montgomery 3A/2A title last week, their first division crown since 2002.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said Carmack, who will reprise his role as a defender on the varsity lacrosse team when basketball season ends. “You work hard with your teammates for three years up to your senior year, and then you hope you can dominate for the last year.”
Over the past four years, Carmack has flawlessly balanced a sport for every high school season with a rigorous courseload, and both the football and basketball teams have taken leaps forward under his leadership in his final go-round.
With Carmack under center, the football team bumped from four wins in 2011 up to seven victories this season, earning the No. 3 seed in the Maryland 2A West playoffs. The quarterback passed for 866 yards and 13 touchdowns before the season ended with a 49-7 first-round loss to Walkersville.
Will Gant became the school’s football coach in 2011 and right away settled on Carmack to lead his offense. He’ll have to break in a new signal-caller heading into his third season.
“You love coaching a kid like that,” Gant said. “You kind of look at him and think ‘I can’t wait to see this kid in four or five years when he’s got a degree, and he’s on his way to a ton of success in whatever he chooses to do.’ ”
As a player, first-year basketball Coach Kenny Kramek helped Poolesville to a Montgomery 3A/2A/1A title during his senior season. Early on, he joked with the players that he was the only one in the gym who had experienced a division championship.
The Falcons added several new players to bolster a squad that won 13 games last season and responded with their own run a title. They beat defending Montgomery 3A/2A champ Watkins Mill by two games in the final standings and have also shown an ability to win outside the division, compiling a 4-1 record against Montgomery 4A schools.
Carmack has been perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the new additions. A year ago, he led the team in scoring at 8.9 points per game. Now he’s able to focus on distributing, and he’s the team’s fifth-leading scorer at 8 points per game.
“He thinks so quick on his feet, but he just reacts more than he thinks,” said Kramek, who was the school’s junior varsity coach during Carmack’s freshman year. “There’s not a situation that he hasn’t seen when you’ve got that kind of experience and you play tight games. Honestly, there’s not another player I’d rather have running the point in this county than him.”
On Friday, Poolesville finished up its division slate by downing Damascus, 52-42. Senior Collin Turner, a newcomer who had struggled to get academically eligible until this year, hit three three-pointers for a personal 9-0 run to begin the game. Carmack added five points, including a pair of free throws in the final minute that helped secure the victory.
“It just makes the game so much easier for us as a team,” Carmack said of the team’s newfound offensive options. “We have five players that can score the ball at any point in time. More than anything, that is what’s going to help us go pretty far.”
And in college Carmack would like to pursue lacrosse, a sport he only picked up in ninth grade after years of playing baseball. He’s received an invitation from longtime MIT coach Walter Alessi to join the Division III team if he’s accepted, and if he goes to Georgia Tech, he’d like to join their club squad.
That’s where Carmack’s academic credentials come in. He holds a 3.98 grade point average (4.7 weighted) and scored a 31 out of 36 on the ACT. Last summer, he completed an internship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.
At a time when many seniors are winding down and getting ready for graduation, Carmack still has plenty on his plate, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m hoping that things just keep going up,” Carmack said with a laugh, “but you really don’t know. It should be fun to see how it goes.”