Every two years, Cayman Carter and his family go on vacation around this time of the year. This year's trip is a cruise and it has taken the Carter family to the Caribbean islands.
The getaway is a well-deserved one for Carter, who needed some downtime. The year has been a long and grueling one for Carter.
He hasn't had much time off since August, when the Corona del Mar High football team opened training camp. Four months later, his season concluded on Dec. 1.
He started the month leading the Sea Kings to a CIF Southern Section Southern Division title win. Now, he's going to end the month relaxing.
The senior hasn't thought much about his future in football. When he returns home before the New Year, Carter plans to focus on what's next for him.
In the meantime, Carter is going to enjoy everything he set out to accomplish on the field for CdM. In his first year as the starting varsity quarterback, Carter was not only the best player on his team, but also the No. 1 player in the area.
Carter is the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year in football. He beat defenses with his arm and his legs.
The area hasn't really seen a dual-threat quarterback like Carter, who passed for 2,210 yards and 17 touchdowns, with only six interceptions, and rushed for 1,073 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Kevin Hettig, the team's offensive coordinator, described Carter the best.
"He's like a running back that can throw like a quarterback," Hettig said of Carter, who rushed 197 times, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, and completed 167 of 290 passes, setting a CdM single-season completion record.
"He loves to run. I did [worry] at first [about running our quarterback so much], and then after [opening the season against] Laguna Hills, I said, 'This kid, he rules our offense. He's going to put his head down and get yards, do whatever he can.'"
For every play of CdM's 14 games, Carter went all out. The 6-foot, 185-pounder never took a play off and Coach Scott Meyer said Carter's play inspired the rest of the Sea Kings to do their best.
The effort led to CdM's second straight Southern Division crown under Meyer. In the section finale, Carter rushed for two touchdowns and threw for one as the top-seeded Sea Kings capped their season with a 35-10 victory against No. 3 Garden Grove at Angel Stadium.
The win marked the 10th in a row for CdM (12-2) and its longest winning streak in a season in the program's history. It was during that stretch Carter became a force.
In the final 10 games of the year, Carter threw 15 touchdown passes, with only one interception, and rushed for 12 touchdowns. He averaged 158.2 yards through the air and 70.9 yards on the ground during the winning streak.
Defenses never figured out how to slow Carter down after the first four games of the season.
In Pacific Coast League play, Carter led CdM to a 5-0 record, marking the first time the school claimed an undefeated league title. He earned the Pacific Coast League MVP award.
The reasons for his success, Carter credits the offensive linemen (left tackle Nick Storm, left guard Michael Martinez, center Giovanni Gentosi, right guard Brett Olson, right tackle Ian Redman) blocking for him, the wide receivers (Troy Reese, Bo St. Geme, Chris Johnstone) catching his passes, tailbacks (Kai Wilson, Cole Martin) for taking pressure off him, and his coaches (Meyer, Hettig) for believing in him.
"The last game at Angel Stadium was such a great moment, such a great way to end the season," said Carter, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 203 yards and rushed 21 times for 68 yards in the Southern Division title game. "I'll never forget how well the team played overall. The defense was amazing during the playoffs [as it only allowed 10 points]. We all worked really hard to repeat as champions."
As for Carter's reward for the hard work, he gets to take it easy on a cruise ship.