By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Carter Lynch doesn’t consider himself an anomaly. He’s just big. Unusually big. He takes a size 19 shoe. His feet grew four shoe sizes in one summer. He was 11 pounds when he was born. Within a week, he was 28 pounds. While most week-old infants were consuming one bottle of formula, Lynch was inhaling six. When he was in sixth grade, he was 6-foot-2. When he graduated eighth grade, he was 6-5, 300 pounds. He admits a rather gooey 300 pounds, but 300 nonetheless.
He was the big kid roaming through the school halls who everyone assumed played football.
There was just one thing missing—he never played football.
Not until he entered the doors of St. Joseph’s Prep.
Now Lynch has grown to 6-6¾, a very taut 310 pounds and is the Hawks’ starting right offensive guard. Yes, he’s larger than most of the Philadelphia Eagles offensive linemen. What’s more interesting is this is his first year of playing high school varsity football, after missing his junior season due to injury and just learning the game his freshman and sophomore years.
He’s gained the attention of Alabama and Michigan, and there will probably be more interest coming as the Prep tries to win its third PIAA state title in the last four years. The Hawks will attempt to make history as the first 6A state champion in the state’s new classification system this season. That won’t be easy, considering a very good North Penn team, the District 1 6A champions, stands in their way in the state semifinals at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Northeast High School in the most anticipated high school game of the year.
North Penn will have to deal with Lynch to become the eastern representatives.
It’s interesting how Lynch’s arrival here hasn’t exactly come on a smooth road.
Over the last three years, he was the target of a lot of interest by Hawks’ head coach Gabe Infante and offensive line coach Tom Sugden, only because everyone around Lynch saw what he could be, realized his unlimited potential, except Lynch himself.
That’s what happens when you stand out and stand over others—expectations.
Lynch is delivering. He’s leading the Hawks’ offensive linemen in knockdowns.
“The size comes from my mom’s side,” Lynch said. “I was never really self-conscious about my size until around maybe fifth grade. I always had a babyface. It’s why I wear a beard now. After the season, when I shave, my friends will torture me, because I have a little, chubby round face. I was always a man-child.
“In fifth grade, I was 6-foot and always getting yelled out during class. I wondered why they only saw me. The teacher told me I was in fifth grade and I was 6-feet tall. How could they miss me? I didn’t realize I was a big person until that happened. But when I got older, and started to get bigger, I began wearing sweatshirts in the summer because I had a belly. I was a little self-conscious about my weight and belly to take it off.”
He’s still relatively new to football. There was a trial-and-error process that stirred more than a few internal doubts. But Lynch also found out coaches at any level don’t waste time on clay that they can’t mold. A lot of time was spent on Lynch, many choice adjectives and spittle flew in his direction from under a headset.
“Coach Infante actually took it lighter on me than my other coaches,” Lynch now says laughing. “Coach Sugden, my offensive line coach, was the worst. I thought he was giving me a hard time. I remember him pulling me aside the end of my sophomore year to tell me he was never harder on any offensive lineman that he coached before. I didn’t understand what he meant. I thought I fell under the lucky star of being the hardest coached player he ever had.
“But he explained to me that he never coached an offensive lineman that had as much potential as me. There were a lot of times I went home crying. I always thought everyone was picking on me. I was the big kid again talking in the back of the class. But I see it now. It took some time, but I get it. If my coaches didn’t care about me, they wouldn’t be on me. They saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself.”
Lynch began coming around early this year. A huge help was Ziggy Cimoz, a Holocaust survivor, who stepped into Carter’s life when he was young. Cimoz grew up in Poland and his family was captured by the Nazis during World War II and taken to a death camp. A day before they were to be executed, the Americans came in and liberated the camp.
Cimoz was a grandfather figure to Lynch, taught him how to work on cars (Lynch can take apart and put together a car) and the importance of little things. Cimoz instilled a work ethic into Lynch that he’s carried on to football. Lynch never knew his maternal grandfather, and his grandmother began seeing Cimoz before Lynch was born.
“Ziggy was a grandfather to me and he taught me patience and really the value of life, because he had that gift,” Lynch said. “I did a school project on Ziggy. They put him and his entire family in a concentration camp, told them they had a day to live, and the night before they were scheduled to be killed, U.S. troops took over and saved him.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without him. You don’t value everything about life until you go through an experience like he did. Believe me, getting yelled at by a coach was nothing compared to what he went through. I just wish he could see me play today. He passed away a few months ago. We sat together for years and years and those are times I’ll never forget. I think about him every time I play.”