As he watched Ben Fiscus lay on the turf with a knee injury late in the first half of an eventual win Sept. 21 against Lock Haven, Clarion football coach Jay Foster had the natural concerns.
Was his successful fourth-year starting quarterback OK?
How would this impact the senior's career?
What about his team?
There was, however, one uncertainty that did not cross his mind -- who would replace Fiscus? For Foster, that question had a simple answer that carried a certain level of confidence -- redshirt freshman Darelle Carson would be the Golden Eagles' quarterback.
And since Carson took over, Clarion has continued to win while the Perry graduate has played a prominent role. In roughly 100 minutes of action, Carson has thrown for 239 yards and rushed for 123, helping the Golden Eagles attain their first 3-0 start since 1996.
"With Ben being a senior this year, our expectations for Darelle were to work him in and give him an opportunity to get some experience, but obviously not putting the outcome of the game in his hands," Foster said. "I don't know if anyone ever plans for that."
After starting one season at Perry, Carson was lightly recruited. While redshirting in 2012, he worked as a scout-team quarterback, regularly pitting him against the first-team defense and giving the Golden Eagles coaches a chance to get a look at what they saw as a promising talent.
Foster is dubious of any team that relies too much on inexperienced players, but he had few doubts about Carson.
Unlike many young quarterbacks that get easily excited and flustered, Foster lauded Carson's even-keeled personality, something Carson was quick to acknowledge.
"I'm just a type of person that doesn't let the hype surround me," Carson said. "I just come and play football."
Against a Mercyhurst team picked to finish near the top of the PSAC, that much was evident. In a 20-13 victory against the Lakers, Carson led the way with 294 total yards and a touchdown.
Though Carson's potential seems vast and his success has been hard to ignore, Foster knows that, for both his quarterback and his team, there is a lot of work left.
"Right now, we're evaluating Darelle on a game and a half, and it's been a good game and a half," Foster said. "But until he does it on a consistent basis week-in-and-week-out, game-in-and-game-out, there's a lot of room yet to go."
Days away from their much-anticipated matchup, IUP and California will take the field Saturday as top-30 teams.
In the most recent AFCA Division II poll, the Crimson Hawks moved up to No. 7 while the Vulcans are the first team outside the top 25.
In the Division III ranks, Washington & Jefferson and Waynesburg are both listed in the "other receiving votes" category.
Charity game at CMU
Carnegie Mellon announced Wednesday that its homecoming game Saturday against Geneva will be the second annual Cindy Lackner Memorial Football Game with the program using the game to raise money for breast-cancer research.
Cindy Lackner, late wife of Tartans football coach Rich Lackner, passed away in Aug. 2012 after a prolonged battle with breast cancer.
Grove City set for big game
The 2013 season has been a difficult one for the Grove City women's soccer team, with a 2-4-1 mark through its first seven games, but it will get an opportunity to face arguably the top program in Division III Saturday when it plays host to Messiah College.
The Falcons, who feature freshman defender Maddy Heistand (North Allegheny), have won four of the past five NCAA championships.
Craig Meyer: email@example.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.