The word "powerhouse" is tossed around sometimes too casually when referring to high school football, but one of the few programs in the nation that truly deserves that title today is Southlake (Tex.) Carroll High School. The Dragons have put together undefeated (16-0) State Championship seasons three years in a row, and four times in the last five years. They are 79-1 since they stepped up to Class 5A football in Texas in 2002. At least one service or poll named Carroll as National Champions each of the last three years.
There were many doubters for the Dragons in 2006, with wholesale replacements required on the offensive side of the ball. At season's end in the Alamodome, however, Carroll was crowned tops in Texas once again, after a 43-29 win over Austin (Tex.) Westlake. The Dragons put up 463 yards of offense.
Playing left tackle for the champions last season was Sam Schwartzstein.
"That year, all five of us offensive linemen were brand new starters, so we all had to assume a leadership role," he says of his junior season. "It was a very new offense. We had one returning starter, and that was our running back. Where I helped with the offense was that I was one of the vocal leaders, and I was a lineman who helped read what was going on. I was good run blocker and pass blocker."
"One of my great suits, I have always been told, is that I have great feet on pass protecting," Schwartzstein describes. "I'm able to shuffle back and forth and stay in front of my man. I also have quick feet going back into my kick slide, which is the first step against a pass rush."
"Other than scout team, I have never been in a three-point stance, so I've been pass blocking a lot all throughout my football career," he adds. "During the playoffs, though, we started running the ball more to change up the pace, so we became a little bit more of a power team then. But in most football, we've always been a passing team and pass blocking has been one of my stronger suits."
Having grown and put on more weight this off-season, Schwartzstein stands at 6'3.5" in socks today and weighs 270 pounds. He will continue to play left tackle this fall for the Dragons, though he projects as a guard in college.
"I've played all five offensive line positions in high school, so that aspect of being an interior lineman won't be the hardest part," Schwartzstein says. "I think it may be putting my hand down on the ground for the first time. I've done it on the scout team, but not on a repeated basis. Other than that, I think it'll be a good fit for me."
A number of college coaches apparently agree. The Lone Star State student-athlete has picked up scholarship offers thus far from Purdue, Kansas, Colorado State, North Texas, UTEP, Houston, Tulane and Stanford.
"I went to an Oklahoma camp this year," he adds. "And they said that for one of their last offensive linemen spots, I was one of the top four they're looking at. But they said if I felt comfortable somewhere else, I should take that."
All of Schwartzstein's offers came in the spring, with the Cardinal's coming in early June after the coaching staff returned home from their four-week May evaluation period.
"Stanford is my favorite," he declares. "Academically they're the best, and I really like their coaching staff. It's a little bit different than most. They're just very personable, and they get to know you well."
Schwartzstein is high on the Cardinal but is still waiting to see the campus for the first time.
"I was planning on going up there this summer, but my family couldn't get it organized," he explains. "I have my official set during the season - September 21."
That date coincides with a Thursday game Carroll plays on their schedule, September 20 at Rockwall. The previous week, the Dragons will play before a nationwide television audience against Miami (Fla.) Northwestern (September 15, ESPNU).
Schwartzstein's excitement for Stanford has been largely built through his relationships with the Cardinal coaches. He says that he talks regularly with area recruiter Clayton White, as well as offensive line coach Chris Dalman.
"I've met both of them in person, and I think they're great people," the recruit relates. "Coach Dalman played in the NFL, has a great knowledge of the game and is very personable, too. He's very approachable, and some coaches are not as approachable as he is. You can talk to him. Coach White has been helping me with everything, from recruiting to the application. He's just one of the greatest guys I've met."
"Coach Dalman really liked my feet," Schwartzstein adds. "I don't know what offense they run. They have a new coach and system. But I do know that right now in high school he doesn't want me to gain too much weight. He wants me to maintain my speed."
Though he has no stated timetable for a decision, the Southlake standout has a good idea of what he wants in a college.
"Education is the number one priority for me," he says. "The coaching staff is another big priority; I want to be somewhere that feels good to me. And then the facilities they have are also important."
Schwartzstein has completed and recently submitted his Stanford admissions application. He carries a 3.6 weighted GPA in all honors courses at Carroll High School. As a junior he also took AP calculus and AP U.S. history. He has also scored a 1740 on the SAT (640M, 550V, 550W).
"I'm taking it again because I didn't feel that I did my best on it," he laments.
With that attitude and approach to academics, it is little surprise that Sam Schwartzstein has his eyes set on Stanford. Stay tuned as his story unfolds in his fast-approaching senior year at Southlake Carroll.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!