NORTH KINGSTOWN — When a holding penalty wiped out a touchdown pass on the first play of Saturday’s game, Donovan Carr did what he’s been doing for years when asked to wait.
He went back to work.
On the next drive, Carr threw a touchdown pass that counted, the beginning of a stirring debut for North Kingstown’s senior quarterback in his first varsity start. Stuck behind Gatorade Player of the Year James Osmanski the last two years and stuck with the uncertainty surrounding football the last few months, Carr made the most of his long-awaited first chance, throwing five touchdown passes in the Skippers’ 41-28 win over South Kingstown.
“It was great,” Carr said. “We weren’t promised it. I was just really excited to be out here and so was everybody else.”
It was a long time coming. In every sport, rosters at North Kingstown have long been dominated by upperclassmen, with depth and talent making it difficult for even the most talented young players to get a chance. With the football program’s ascendance into powerhouse status in recent years, the quarterback position became a coveted spot. Joe Gilmartin set a host of school records in leading the Skippers to the 2017 Division II championship but had only become a starter late in the previous season. Osmanski bided his time behind Gilmartin and starred as a junior and senior, taking the team to two consecutive Division I championships.
Carr led the freshman team to a championship in 2017 and competed with Osmanski for the starting job in 2018. When Osmanski won the job, it meant a talented player who could start for a lot of teams around the state would have to wait his turn.
“They do it all for a reason,” Carr said. “It’s tough at points, but I’m just glad I have the opportunity.”
Two years of waiting were a challenge, but the extra few months were even worse. When the pandemic hit last spring, off-season training was put on hold, but it was assumed sports would pick up sooner rather than later. Instead, fall sports were clouded by uncertainty, and football was pushed into a spring season that was far from a guarantee. Fall Friday nights were strangely quiet. Players had to hope football would get the green light.
“We had two separate times when we were practicing in the summer and the fall and our season got canceled,” Carr said. “Even this time, when we started practice, some people were like, ‘Are we practicing for nothing?’”
Carr stayed ready throughout and delivered when the opportunity finally arrived. He connected on 15 of 30 passes for 236 yards and the five touchdowns. The Skippers raced to a 41-0 lead before a late comeback push by South Kingstown.
“I’m sure there are a couple of throws he’ll want back but he managed the game really well,” head coach Fran Dempsey said. “When we needed him to step on the gas a little bit, he did a good job getting guys lined up and putting the ball where it needed to be.”
Carr is slated to play college football at Framingham State, with a fast-approaching season set to begin in the fall. But he’ll squeeze a lot of unfinished business into the next few weeks.
His senior season will be different than what he always envisioned, but he’s hoping it will be worth the wait.
“We finally got our season,” Carr said. “It’s go time.”