Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) linebacker Zeke Carwile was the only representative from the state of Alabama that played in the 2023 Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game this year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but he represented the Heart of Dixie as good as you possibly could.
“It was a cool experience. I was the lone star from Alabama. I knew that I wouldn’t have known anybody walking in. I got to do my own thing. I was able to get up, do my Bible study in the morning, have coffee, and do my practices and stuff. All of that was really cool. The practices were good. I was able to learn a lot, figure things out, learned a whole new scheme in two days, and of course, I live football and breathe football so I love that part of it.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
On the field, Zeke Carwile is a tackling machine. Representing Team West in the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game, he proved to be the heart and soul of an aggressive and suffocating defense that only gave up one touchdown during the game.
“Regardless, I just care about winning. I hate losing. Whenever we got into halftime, I was thinking to myself that I am not losing this game. I was there to represent me and the name of my jersey as Carwile. It gets to that point in time where the game becomes a business and you lose the joy of it. For me, I go out there and play. Tyler Knighten deserved that MVP. He made the most crucial plays in the game. Whenever he was able to do that, I was the first one there to celebrate with him. Whenever people make a big play, I am so excited for them. Owen and Hutch were there and made big plays. I was just having so much with everybody making all those big plays. I was trying to be the best that I could be out there.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
In the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game, Carwile made a lot of plays as well as he led the team with six tackles, a TFL, a forced fumble, and also a fumble recovery that led to the eventual game winning touchdown for Team West.
“There were some plays that I missed and I needed to go towards the ball more and not wait for the ball to come to me. Looking back on it, those were the plays that I could have reacted faster. Those are those kind of things that you just look back on and there’s never a game that’s a perfect performance. For me, what I grade my performance on is how much effort did I give and how much passion did I play with. Whenever I go back and look to see what kind of effort and passion I played with, then everything else is going to take care of itself. Whenever I play with 100 percent effort and 100 percent passion, that’s the best grade I can give myself. I am a perfectionist at heart. I need everything to go perfectly planned. Whenever I said that I did everything I could to glorify God and have passion that is unlike anything else, then that is what I grade myself on.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
Carwile made a lot of noise at the bowl game not only with his play, but also with his intensity, ferocity, and passion that was just as impressive as his ability to diagnose plays.
“I am two totally different people. Right now, I am this nice guy talking to you over the phone and being able to carry a conversation, but if you give me some football pads and a helmet, I become a different human being. It’s not like that this is Christian Zeke and this is non-Christian Zeke. I stay the same, but I just play like an idiot. I play so stupid and play with so much passion that people have to look at me and say that kid is a little bit different. What does he have that I don’t?”
“I want to say that whenever I step on the football field, I am able to give all the glory to God. I will be the first to tell you that I am not the biggest, the fastest, the strongest, the smartest, etc. I am none of those things, but whenever you give me an opportunity to show you my God given abilities, I am going to show you everyday of the week. Before the game, the coach asked me if I had any energy drinks because I was so hyped up about the game. I responded no. I just have God in me. This is just pure energy because I have an opportunity to impact people with the Gospel and that is how I implement football with my faith.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
One day, I decided to arrive to the team hotel early in the morning to prepare for the day’s events. Being at the lobby for 5:00 in the morning, I thought I wouldn’t see any players maybe for another two hours, but during that time, that is when I saw Zeke grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and read the Bible way before any of the players were downstairs.
Seeing this emotional, big play, and boisterous linebacker in a calm setting shows how God works through him in a variety of unique ways whether it is on the field or off the field.
“My relationship with Christ is not to look at it as a checklist. It is something that I look forward to doing everyday. I am a very old soul as you can tell. Whenever I get a cup of coffee and I sit down and read, I’ve done the same thing for the past four years. I will get on this train where I do a Proverb for the day and I will pick up a verse and apply that to that morning. I am a morning person so that is when I will do my quiet time. I do it whenever I go to workouts in the morning from 6:15-6:45, I will put on some worship music and try to get my mindset ready for that day.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
Whether it is quoting scripture or making a big TFL, everything is a mindset for Carwile. That same mindset has guided him to a prolific prep career for the Wildcats where he has made an impressive 530 career tackles including 205 tackles just this year alone plus 33 career TFLs, 11 forced fumbles, three interceptions, four pass breakups, and three fumble recoveries. At only 5’11, 195 pounds, Alabama’s number one tackler finds creative ways to be one of the productive linebackers in the entire country.
“It’s a mindset. I’m only 5’11, but I play like I’m 6’5, 245. It’s one of those things where I have to tell you to stop me. Whenever I put on those football pads and I realize that it is just a game to have fun, I want you to try and stop me. If you can, I will shake your hand and tip my cap off to you.”
“My freshman year, we went 4-6. My sophomore year, we went 5-5. My junior year, we went 6-5, and this year, we went 11-3. That is a testament because I wasn’t going to quit for sure. I just love the game too much. It was rough those first two years for sure because I couldn’t drive and yet, I was playing grown men, but whenever I was able to switch my mindset for me to tell you to stop me, the sky’s the limit.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
Along with being into scripture, Carwile has always grown up loving to read superhero comics. Like when Clark Kent took off his glasses and became Superman, Carwile feels that putting on a football helmet gives him the same effect.
“Whenever I was growing up, my dad always told me that readers are leaders and leaders are readers. That is something I live by and that is really good, but I am such a kid at heart that whenever my dad said that, I said that I didn’t want to read big books right now so I went into comic books. The mask is my football helmet. Whenever I put it on, I am a different person. I have a different identity and I just have fun with it because you never know when you get these times back. Wherever I can make an impact, that is what God really wants me to do.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
Speaking of his dad, Carwile wants to go into ministry like his father Pastor Joel Carwile, who has been a minister for over 35 years. Spending as much time as he can with his father helps him grow even more both physically and spiritually.
“I joke around with a lot of people. He’s not just my dad. He’s my best friend. I look up to him all the time and the decisions he makes is a testament to him being such a godly man. That’s what I want to be. Whenever I have that in my life, I am blessed because I never realized how crucial that is in a lot of people’s lives that don’t have that. I would ask dad how his day was today and we would talk for an hour. Those type of relationships are what really matters. We’ll go workout together and I realize that not a lot of father/sons do that and I say that is pretty cool. We love it. We hold each other accountable. We do the same devotional and ask what did you do today? What did you learn today?What did you apply to your life today? Those things are just special.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
With all of his success on the gridiron to go along with a very impressive 4.12 GPA, there is no doubt that Carwile has plenty of opportunities on the horizon both athletically and academically. Right now, he has received athletic offers from Birmingham Southern, Campbellsville University, Huntington College, and Sewanee University, but for him, his college decision will depend on things much deeper than just football.
“For me, most importantly, I am getting a degree. That is my number one because if football ended tomorrow, would I be able to say if I can get this degree? That’s what I am looking for in a school. I knew that I was called into ministry in someway shape or form so I don’t know if that is me as a coach or as a full time pastor. All of my mentors and people that I look up to have told me to get a degree in something other than ministry so then you can go into seminary and have that certain job. One of the first things that came into my mind was being a coach because a coach mentors more young lives than any pastor ever will. That was said by Billy Graham himself. Do I have an opportunity to make that impact in a young man’s live whenever I am older? Those are the type of schools that I am looking for that will help me answer that question the most.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
The instinctive Alabama tackler and future preacher is pure as he is not afraid to show the emotions on his sleeves even when it may be too extreme in nature. Case in point, this past December in the bowl game.
“Looking back on it, I headbutted a kid with my helmet off. I didn’t realize it until after when I looked at the video. I showed it to my dad and asked if I had a bruise on my head. It was funny because after the fumble recovery, I told Ryan McVay “War Eagle” because he had Auburn gloves on. It was one of those funny moments that I didn’t realize what I was saying until after the fact.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
Despite Team West to victory, the Gridiron Football All-American is going to remember the friendships and the relationships he was able to form with his teammates more than the plays he made in the game.
“It was pretty cool. Even 446 Sports said that it seemed like all of the linebackers played four years together, but we just met yesterday. We had so much fun with each other. Every one of us can make big plays. We played rock paper scissors to see who could go on the field. Lawrence was my roommate. We had Kaden. We had almost everybody that you can think of. We had Lacardias Boatwright and Jaylin Harris as well. Everybody chimed in. All those guys were there and we would be practicing and Coach Markell would look at us and ask us whose turn is it to make the play. It was a lot of fun and when I realized that we would have that type of relationship the next couple of days, it was able to flourish.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
Elevating others to their top of their game both on and off the field is what stands out the most about Carwile. There have been a lot of tackles and awards including making All-Region, All-Huntsville, Defensive MVP, and Team MVP, but when it comes to the impact and legacy that he has left behind at his high school, that is what he is most proud of.
“The passion I played with was something that kids are able to look at and go: I want to be that guy. Whenever they go and say that they want to be like that guy, that gives me the opportunity to make an impact into those people’s lives in a way that a lot of other people couldn’t. It’s pretty cool because at our school, I am able to do a little Bible Study with the 4th and 5th grade at our lowest campus and be able to go up to them and even play recess with them. I get to have fun with that, but I think the coolest part is that every single basketball kid is wearing the number 34. Initially, I asked them why they decided to wear #34 because I thought it was because of Charles Barkley or somebody like that. I would be joking around with them because that’s the jersey number I wore. Every single kid answered that they wear that jersey because of Zeke Carwile.”
“That is a legacy I want to leave. That’s the way I want my jersey to be left behind and that is to be put in a better place. The tackles are great. The TFLs are great. Me playing like an idiot is awesome. It’s awesome because I get to have that other side of me. I carry a race car with me everywhere I go. It sounds stupid, but I carry that race car because it lets me know that somebody is always watching me. Whenever I have that image in my head that somebody is always watching, that is whenever I am sharing the Gospel and be able to do those things with young people. I don’t know if that’s where my heart is set at, but when I look at the basketball court, the baseball field, or with flag football teams, and the reason they have the #34 is because of you, your mindset changes drastically. They are actually watching you. Whenever I can confidently say that the way I want my jersey to be left behind and whenever they think of 34 at Westminster, they are able to say that there is a kid named Zeke Carwile. At football, he was great, but what is even better about him was that he helped my kid get closer to Jesus. He helped my kid see what a young man is supposed to be. That’s what it is all about.”Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, AL) LB Zeke Carwile
When looking at Zeke Carwile the person and the player, one can see how much of a lasting impact he has on others regardless it is him leading his teammates in a football huddle or preaching the Gospel to young children.
The people that are most successful in life are the ones that give 100% in everything they do. When it comes to Zeke Carwile, he gives 110% not only in the game of football, but in his relationship with Jesus Christ.
In the end, that is what everyone should emulate to be.
Read more about the 2023 Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game and watch the full game below!