A team often transforms into a family. At Goodyear’s Desert Edge High School, the football team embodies this idea under the coaching of twin brothers Mark and Marcus Carter.
They grew up in San Jose, California. Throughout their childhood, they were inseparable.
“If you want to see what twins look like,” said Mark, “hang around my brother and I for a little while and you’ll see it.”
At Piedmont Hills High School, the brothers were not just football players, they were standout basketball players and both ended up playing at Butte Community College in Northern California. After they finished school, however, neither had any clue what they wanted to do with their lives.
“We had just left school and moved to a little town that had nothing there,” said Marcus. “We were walking down the road and saw signs for football sign-ups. We just asked them if we could coach. They said we could but we would not be paid and that practice started Monday.
“That was the day that forever changed our lives.”
They coached in California for a short amount of time together.
Then Mark decided to move to Arizona and eventually got a coaching job at Cactus High School, while Marcus decided to stay in California.
“In a total of 39 years, we were separated probably just that year and a half,” said Mark.
Although they were each succeeding at their own schools, Marcus and Mark knew they wanted to reunite.
The only thing was that each brother wanted the other one to move. They could not compromise.
“We made a friendly wager,” said Mark, “if his team finished best, I would move out to California, but if I finished best, he would have to move out to Arizona.”
With Cactus, Mark helped the Cobras finish with a 14-0 record and win the state championship. Marcus moved to the West Valley to join his brother on the Cactus coaching staff shortly after.
The brothers coached at Cactus until 2010 when they moved to Georgia for a coaching job at Kennesaw Mountain. They were assistants and still looking for their first head coaching job. The brothers thought they found their shot at Coronado High School back in Arizona. The brothers applied and moved back to Arizona but ultimately did not get the job.
“They took the job back and gave it to someone else,” said Mark. “Once we got back, we were kind of like what are we going to do?”
They stayed together and coached at Central High School for two years. With the Carter’s on their coaching staff, Central had their best season in over a decade.
Coming off their success at Central, Marcus and Mark landed the heading coaching job at South Mountain. Finally, they had the chance to be head coaches.
“Our whole premise for us in our first year was to learn how to compete,” said Marcus. “The second year we were going to learn how to win.”
The Carters finished 1-10 in their first season. Every year after that, the team improved. Last season South Mountain went 7-3 and won the division.
Although they were succeeding at South Mountain, Marcus and Mark knew they couldn’t pass up an opportunity to join Desert Edge.
“We wanted to be a part of one of the perennial programs in the state,” said Mark.
The decision wasn’t purely based on football. Desert Edge is also one of 44 schools in the state to receive the highly prestigious A+ Educational Award, which highlights great accomplishments in the state’s public-school programs.
“I wanted to put my children in a good situation,” said Marcus, who has two sons at Desert Edge and a daughter who will attend there as well. “It’s not just about me.”
For the players, the Carters have been everything they wanted from their new coaches.
“The first day they came, they sat us down in the gym and talked about their lives right from the start,” said junior captain and quarterback Adryan Lara. “I guess all of us bought in right from the start. They are like family now.”
“I get to be with my best friend every day,” said Marcus. “Just having the opportunity to be with someone I can trust and someone who has my best interest in his heart is truly a blessing.”
For the Carters, family has always come first in their lives, and now they have extended that family to include the young football players of Desert Edge High School.