By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Here’s a quick question when it comes to the world of sports…
Who would you rather have leading your team: A great athlete who can’t count past the number four or a great athlete who has guile, guts, determination, and is the class valedictorian?
Well, if you chose the second choice, you’d be picking someone like St. Paul Catholic High School’s Brendan Carroll.
And we picked him too…as the Bristol Observer Male Athlete of the Year for 2014-15.
Guess what, it was an easy choice to make.
When you put in the time and work in both the classroom and the field and Carroll is the result, wow, you’re just left totally impressed.
The effort, the hours, the sacrifice it takes to be a valedictorian of a school is a full-time job all by itself.
And then Carroll turns around and is an All-NVL Copper Division selection in both football and hoops?
Come on, this guy can’t be for real?
But Carroll loves sports and I’m sure whatever career path he chooses at Providence College, sports might play a role in that.
He probably could have written a ticket to any college as his GPA was a 99.63 (some people wish they had an IQ that high though we might have to check that because Carroll has stated that his favorite movie is “Anchorman?” Hmmm…).
Carroll was one of those three [well, actually four] sport athletes and he excelled in just about everything he did, whether it was hoisting in footballs for a touchdown or draining a run-breaking three-point on the hardwood.
And he had the natural ability to compete, coming to the football field at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and with a 40 yard dash time of 4.70 seconds, he had the athletic talent to back up all that intelligence.
Carroll, like everyone at St. Paul usually is because of small numbers, went both ways on the football field but certainly was underrated defensively.
He ran all over the field as one of the squad’s defensive backs and chased down everything that moved.
Offensively, he was always a trusty target for quarterbacks Logan Marchi and Pat Etter over the years.
Last season with Etter at the helm, Carroll played in all 11 games and caught 25 passes for 438 yards (both totals were the third best on the team), good for 17.5 yards-per-catch.
Carroll hauled in six touchdowns, second on the squad, and tallied 616 all-purpose yards on the season.
His biggest game of the year came in Week 1 in a 46-39 loss at Derby when he made nine catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns in a 46-39 loss that was a wild and wooly affair throughout.
And the previous season, Carroll made 39 catches for 615 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Over his final two years at St. Paul, he hauled in 16 touchdowns and went for more than 1050 in receiving yards.
He scored 44 points on the season for the Falcons in 2014.
Defensively, he also made 10 tackles, seven of which came unassisted.
His basketball numbers were legit as well, sinking in over 12 points-per-game to go along with 4.4 rebounds and nearly two assists an outing.
Carroll was an accomplished three-point shooter but he knew how to get his team in the offensive flow and could finish around the rim.
He was one of the top scorers in NVL play and carried high percentages in both free throw makes and three-point shooting.
In his final scholastic basketball game, Carroll jammed in a team best 18 points and canned a critical three late as St. Paul nearly got back into the game against Northwestern after trailing big back on March 11 in state tournament play.
In fact, Carroll drained four threes in his the last game of the season as St. Paul fell 68-65.
Even in one game on the hardwood, he made the now famous “alley oops” play – taking in a lob pass but never truly getting a grip on the ball, throwing the ball up towards the hoop, and somehow banking in a shot for two points.
This past year, Carroll was a Jack Hines Scholar/Athlete recipient was recognized by McDonald’s and the Connecticut Association of Schools as a state’s top scholar-athlete along with St. Paul’s Caroline Cianci.
He was recognized as a CIAC Scholar Athlete at the 32nd Annual CAS-CIAC Scholar Athlete Banquet held the Aqua Turf at the beginning of May
In all, Carroll played football, basketball (he was captain of both over the past two years), baseball and was on the track and field team this season at St. Paul Catholic high school over his four years.
The Observer’s own Lisa Capobianco wrote a great piece on Carroll towards the end of May and caught the exact notion of what sports at St. Paul meant to him.
Bonding with teammates and coaches was the biggest thrill for him.
“That was the most rewarding experience I had at St. Paul,” said Carroll, adding how his parents have also served as an inspiration for him.
And he was ever so busy in the classroom.
He was a member of the National Honor Society, a Blue Key Club student ambassador, and also served as class vice president.
Carroll was also a member of the Spanish National Honor Society and was very active in student government as well.
And the bottom line was that Carroll had suitors in college for both football and basketball.
He could have easily played either sport at a NCAA Division III level but Carroll saw the bigger picture in education and where that career path will lead him.
Remember, this guy was the captain of the St. Paul Quiz Bowl team too.
So if you see him on the game show Jeopardy sometime in the near future, don’t be surprised if he’s won Final Jeopardy and has a boatload of cash to bring back home to Southington.
St. Paul Catholic High School has been a springboard for many successful individuals and Carroll is following in that grand tradition.
Big things are in store for this young man.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE