Cross making big plays for stout Marvin Ridge defense

Carson Cross has returned two interceptions for touchdowns this season for Marvin Ridge. (Photo by Greg Arthur)

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Player Profile

Carson Cross

School: Marvin Ridge

Class: Junior

Position: Defensive back

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 160

Notable: Cross has six interceptions on the season and he has returned two for touchdowns. … Has three catches for 64 yards and two more touchdowns. … Also plays lacrosse for Marvin Ridge and broke into the Mavs’ starting rotation as a freshman during the team’s state championship run in 2016.

Opposing quarterbacks may want to think twice about throwing the football Carson Cross’ way.

The Marvin Ridge defensive back is on a tear as the junior has five interceptions the past two games and twice Cross has taken an interception back for a touchdown for the Mavericks (8-0 overall, 4-0 Southern Carolina Conference).

Cross’ first pick-6 was a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Mavericks’ 48-6 win against Parkwood on Oct. 6. The second came last week when Cross returned an interception 65 yards in the Mavs’ 25-18 victory against Cuthbertson on Oct. 13.

But Cross’ interception return for a touchdown against Cuthbertson was just the beginning of a big night for Cross as the junior would record three more interceptions as the Mavericks rallied to defeat the Cavaliers in a key Southern Carolina Conference game.

And Cross is looking for more.

“I was really pumped after I got that pick against Parkwood, especially when I realized it was 90 yards,” Cross said. “I hope more will come as the season goes on. I have been playing well at corner and we have been playing well as a defense. I think with the coverages we run, we will get some more turnovers.”

Cross’ third interception against Cuthbertson setup the Mavericks’ game-winning touchdown and stopped the Cavaliers from possibly running out the clock or taking a two-score lead late in the game.

“I was thinking a couple of plays earlier that we needed to make a play and come up with a turnover,” Cross said. “We wanted to change the momentum. After I made that play, I knew our offense would take care of business and score a touchdown.”

Cross, who also has two touchdown receptions with the Mavs’ offense, only played on the offensive side of the football as a sophomore but he made the switch to defense last summer.

“This year we saw some stuff during the offseason that showed us that he could be one of our corners,” said Marvin Ridge head coach Aubrey Carter. “Carson has played very well for us.”

Cross is part of a solid Marvin Ride defense that has surrendered just 97 points in eight games this season. The Mavericks have 24 sacks on the season and seven interceptions.

“Our defensive line, we have multiple guys that play,” Carter said. “We usually play 10 guys up front and there are six or seven different guys with sacks. That speaks to the guys we have up front.”

Junior linebacker Will Smith leads the Mavericks defense with 67 tackles while junior linebacker Caleb Deveaux has recorded 40 tackles. Cole Hopkins has 11 sacks and 12 hurries while notching 28 tackles.

The road for the Mavericks does not get any easier this week as they host rival Weddington on Friday, Oct. 20. Marvin Ridge also has a road game at Sun Valley on Oct. 27 before ending the regular season at home against Charlotte Catholic on Nov. 3. Through eight games, Catholic is also 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the SCC.

“Weddington is going to be a challenge for any defense,” Carter said. “They have a good quarterback and they have some dynamic kids on the outside. They do a good job with their scheme. We know that we are going to be challenged.”

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Paul Nielsen
Nielsen was a sports writer for what is now the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nearly 32 years before moving to North Carolina in February 2016. At the Democrat-Gazette, Nielsen's primary responsibility was beat coverage for Rogers High School. Rogers is a Class 7A school located in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen, a University of Arkansas graduate, covered the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Minor League Baseball team from 2008-2015. The Naturals are the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Nielsen has experience covering University of Arkansas athletics, including NCAA Tournament basketball games and several football bowl games. He also covered amateur and professional golf tournaments in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen lives in Matthews with his wife, Susan. He can be reached at