Matt Carlyle returned two kickoffs 92 yards for touchdowns and a punt 83 yards for a touchdown in the final four Orange Coast League games. He learned how to avoid contact on special teams three years ago as a freshman at Estancia High.
Carlyle earned a shot to move up to varsity as a ninth-grader after an injury to the starting quarterback. The Eagles wanted depth at the position.
Carlyle did not even play quarterback on the frosh-soph level. The team ran the Wing-T offense, so Carlyle said the varsity coaching staff then asked for the most athletic guy on the team.
They got Carlyle. The football pads and helmet probably weighed more than Carlyle back then.
Classmates called the 105-pound Carlyle "Mr. Varsity" because it is rare to see a freshman on varsity. Carlyle did not play much. He stood on the sideline during games. It was probably hard to spot him there because he was barely 5-foot-4.