The media could wait; it was team picture time. So Jake Carlock interrupted a postgame interview on Sunday night at Stony Brook, raced toward his teammates gathered under the south goalpost at LaValle Stadium and dived right into the middle of the front row of jubilant Babylon players.
It was right where he belonged.
Carlock, a 6-1, 190-pound bundle of energy, is in the middle of everything Babylon does. The versatile junior has scored 11 touchdowns in four different ways for the Panthers (11-0), who face Roosevelt at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Stony Brook for the Long Island Class IV title.
"He's one of the most special kids we've ever had here," Babylon coach Rick Punzone said after Carlock keyed a 21-7 Suffolk IV victory over Mount Sinai on Sunday night. That's quite a tribute considering Babylon has won four Long Island championships, three under Punzone.
As a fast and elusive pass receiver, Carlock has four TD receptions among his team-best 27 catches for 534 yards. As a surehanded shutdown defensive back, Carlock has eight interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. As a dangerous punt and kickoff returner, Carlock averages more than 35 yards per touch, returning three punts and one kickoff for touchdowns.
Against Mount Sinai, Carlock made the play of the game. With the score tied at 7 early in the third quarter, he got open on a slant route and caught an accurate bullet from Nick Santorelli. The play was designed to gain about 10 yards. But after making the grab, Carlock quickly darted across the middle, away from several defenders and into the open field. He picked up a huge block from wide receiver Ray Wardell and sped to the end zone, completing an electrifying 53-yard play.
"We have a great offensive line that allows us to run the ball," Carlock said. "That opens up the passing game. Nick made a great throw and Ray made a great block."
Santorelli described it best. "I made the pass, but after that, Jake did the rest," the quarterback said.
Carlock said he's most proud of the Panthers' defense, calling the unit that has allowed 8.6 points per game "the best on Long Island."
When asked which side of the ball he prefers, Carlock hesitated for a moment, then said with a smile, "Maybe defense, just a little more."