Nov. 24—There has never been anything particularly fancy about Kenyata Carbon's play on the football field for the Owensboro High School Red Devils — hand the guy the ball and he will gain plenty of yards for you, often not stopping until he reaches the end zone.
It was more of the same in that regard this fall, which led to Carbon being selected as the 2022 Messenger-Inquirer Area Offensive Player of the Year — helping OHS win eight of 10 regular-season games and a KHSAA Class 5-A district championship.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior zipped for 1,420 yards and 24 touchdowns; also catching 14 passes for 201 yards and another TD. Out of the defensive secondary, he intercepted two passes.
It's a simple, if highly committed and motivated, mindset that fuels Carbon.
"I just try to play hard on every down and represent Owensboro High School the best I can, that's really what it comes down to," said Carbon, who has been a member of a Class 5-A state runner-up team (2020) and two state semifinalist teams (2019, 2021) during his Red Devil career.
"When I was younger, I knew some of the (Owensboro) players and I looked up to them. I knew back then, watching the games at Rash (Stadium) as a kid, that someday I wanted to do that, to be like them. It was exciting to watch the games back then, and it's exciting to play in the games now — there's nothing quite like it.
"I think the biggest stride I have made in my career is being a better teammate — that's something I'm very proud of."
He's also proud of an OHS offensive line that has helped punctuate his greatness.
"These guys are the best," Carbon said. "One of the things that sticks out about the group is how well they communicate. That communication leads to execution and allows me to do what I do — they create the holes, they create the lanes I run through.
"We work together very well as a unit, and it's been a very good season for us."
Owensboro head coach Jay Fallin, meanwhile, knows a great one when he sees one.
"Kenyata has a lot of tools in his tool box — he is an incredibly dynamic playmaker out of our backfield," Fallin said. "As a runner, he has great vision, he's explosive, he can take the ball inside or outside on gap schemes, and he makes good decisions as the play develops. He gets north on you, he's developed a great stiff-arm, and he's almost always going to gain yardage.
"Beyond all this, he wants the ball in his hands in big situations, he catches the ball well out of the backfield, and he's a very good blocker — Kenyata is the total package back there."
As a junior in 2021, Carbon put up impressive numbers despite missing four games to injury. He rushed for 681 yards on only 69 carries (9.9 ypc) and scored 12 touchdowns, made six receptions for 103 yards and three TDs, intercepted four passes, and registered 47 total tackles. He also returned a kickoff for a score.
Carbon saw limited action but nonetheless impressed as a sophomore in 2020, when OHS reached the state championship game against Bowling Green. For the season, he gained 162 yards on only 13 carries, scoring three touchdowns. He also made 10 tackles as a defensive back.
Also a Red Devils basketball superstar, Carbon was selected Messenger-Inquirer Area Player of the Year in 2021-22, averaging team-highs of 20.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Helping perpetuate the legacy of the school's storied football program, meanwhile, has meant plenty to Carbon.
"Being part of this program has been huge for me, and I've put my heart and soul into it — laid it all out there," he said. "Playing football here has been great. The nerves are still there with the Friday night lights and all that.
"I still get chills every time I step on the field, when it's go-time — oh yeah, I love it."