At least, Carter Anderson can take comfort that he went out in a blaze of glory.
The talented Centennial senior athlete suffered the second season-ending injury of a glittering two-sport career while hauling in a 37-yard touchdown pass against Edina at home on Nov. 1.
“If I have to go out, I wasn’t mad that I went out the way that I did,” Anderson said. He not only scored a touchdown in that playoff game which the Cougars eventually won 21-20 in overtime but also broke two school records — along with the bone in his leg.
With that catch, the nimble 6-4, 207-pound wide receiver became the Cougar record-holder for both career touchdowns with 16 and career yards with 1,104, gaudy numbers for a team known mainly for running the ball.
While being tackled in the end zone, Anderson’s right leg was caught between the tackler’s legs and “it snapped when it hit the ground,” Anderson said. “At first I thought I had just twisted my ankle, (but) I knew it was broken as soon as I tried to sit up.”
The injuries were a broken fibula and torn ligaments in his foot. He was taken to Fairview in Blaine.
Anderson returned to the field on crutches with two minutes left, in time to watch the dramatic conclusion of a game they’ll talk about for a long while at Centennial.
“I got to see Texas Tim’s awesome interception, and Austin pound in a touchdown,” he said, referring to Timothy O’Neill’s game-saving end zone pickoff with seconds left, and Austin Wlaschin’s four-yard touchdown in overtime.
Anderson’s basketball career also had a flaming star conclusion after he averaged 16.8 points per game as a sophomore, and 16.1 PPG for a more balanced team his junior season, which was cut short after 13 games.
Partial tears in patella tendons in both knees, which “occurred over time,” he said, not on one play like in football, forced him out.
“I wasn’t fully recovered until part way through two-a-days,” Anderson said, meaning football practice in August.
Anderson had already decided, before the football injury, to give up basketball this year “in order to give my knees time to rest, and so I could put on some more muscle for college (football).”
He’s looking at three months before he can walk normally and lots of physical therapy once the cast is off. And he still intends to play college football.
This fall, Anderson scored eight times on passes from Connor Zulk covering 44, 32, 21, 11, 13, 41, 11, and 37 yards. Able to out-jump any defensive back, he averaged 20 yards per catch, snagging 33 for 660 yards, and was picked for the coaches association all-star game, which of course he will miss.
Head coach Mike Diggins praises Anderson as “a Division I talent both as a receiver and a punter, and an excellent downfield blocker, too.”
His position coach for four years, Spencer Waldvogel, lauded Anderson as not only very talented but also willing to put the team’s needs first.
“He is 6-4, and he’s fast and physical. His first step out of the break is like nothing I’ve seen in high school football,” Waldvogel said.
“When he was a sophomore, of course he wanted the ball more, but as he progressed in his career, he became, in my opinion, one of best blocking wide receivers in the state.
“And when we did throw to him it was usually a pretty big play.”
Throwing most of those passes was equally talented classmate Zulk, starting in 10th grade when they both came off the bench to hook up for a 36-yard score in the final quarter to beat Champlin Park 28-21.
They connected six times for TDs last year before Zulk was injured. Anderson had seven for the season. With Zulk back this year, they chalked up eight more TD’s together while the QB also led a thunderous ground game for the Cougars in an 8-3 season.
About his season-ending injuries, Anderson reflected:
“At first I was very upset that it happened, but for both sports, I knew my guys had my back and were there for me, and I knew they would continue to do great things. And I knew my amazing coaches knew exactly what to do next.”
That included Waldvogel especially, with whom he had “an emotional moment” after the Edina game amid the delirious celebration of that playoff win that concluded, far too prematurely, an excellent prep career.