SALEM-A quick glance at the rosters for the 2013 Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic reveals that Salem defensive back/wide receiver Jake Carner-at 5'9 145 pounds-will be one of the smaller players to take the field Friday at Geneva College.
Carner's size, however, did not stop him from making a big impact on the Quaker football team. As a senior, Carner was all over the field for Salem. He started at defensive back and played on every defensive snap of the season while also seeing part-time duty at wide receiver, holding for kicks, and playing special teams.
"Jake has an endless motor," Salem coach Ron Johnson said. "He goes 100 percent on every snap. Whatever we asked him to do this year he did."
"I've always had a lot of fun with football no matter what I'm doing," Carner said. "I just try to go out there, do my thing, and enjoy playing the game."
Throughout his career at Salem, Carner was a constant presence in both good times and bad. He broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore on a team that went 8-2 and advanced to the state playoffs. In Carner's junior year the Quakers slipped to 5-5, but he led the team in tackles. As a senior, Carner experienced his toughest year from a win-loss standpoint as the Quakers went 0-10 under first year coach Ron Johnson. At the end though, he was recognized for his contribution. Before the week 10 game against archrival West Branch, Carner was elected by Johnson as one of four team captains. Johnson, who never elects captains until the season's final game was impressed by Carner's leadership from the very start of his tenure.
"Jake's one of the best leaders I've been around in high school football," Johnson said. "You could tell he was on a mission to do whatever it took to succeed. He was always willing to sacrifice for the good of the team."
In a fitting conclusion, Carner went out against West Branch and caught a late touchdown to cap off his Salem career. After the season he garnered second-team all-conference honors and was also named to the Academic All-Ohio team.
"Last year was rough, definitely not what we wanted," Carner said. "But we still enjoyed playing together as a team. The whole team came together as a family. It was still a lot of fun."
Johnson came to Salem after taking Canton McKinley to four straight state playoff appearances. As he tries to build the Quakers into a consistent winner, he hopes that Carner stands as an example for other players to follow.
"When Jake gave advice to other players it really stuck," Johnson said. "It's a lot easier to follow somebody when you see that they go out and do things the right way."
After three years spent leaving a positive mark on the program, Carner will strap on his Salem helmet one more time on Friday night when he tries to lead Ohio to its second straight victory over Pennsylvania.
"It's an honor to represent Salem, my family, and the state of Ohio," Carner said. "I just hope to go out and enjoy it."
Following the game on Friday, Carner will turn his attention toward college. He plans to attend Baldwin-Wallace in the fall where he will try out for the football team.
"I've been in contact with the coaches and everyone there seems really nice and down-to-earth," Carner said. "It should be a different experience. I'm looking forward to it."