DOUGLAS (3-5, 0-3) AT CARSON (4-4, 0-3)
Today, 7 p.m.
OFFENSE: Carson has struggled to score points at time this year. Carson enters tonight's game averaging 20 points per game, and frankly I'd be stunned if it only took 20 points to win this game. It's no secret what Carson wants to do tonight - run the ball and control the clock. That means that Colby Brown (628 yards), Matt Nolan (196 yards), Joey Thurman (152 yards) and Nevin Elliott (133 yards) need to get the tough yards and make sure they hang onto the football while doing it. Garrett Schafer needs to be efficient and accurate, and stay away from interceptions. The junior QB needs to not force the ball. In other words, make smart decisions. Carson needs to keep Douglas' offense off the field. The Tigers, under offensive mastermind Ernie Monfiletto, averaged 40 points per game this year, thanks to the throw and catch combo of Michael Nolting (20 scores) and Dusty Fisher (13 touchdowns), and running back Conner Peterson (1,172 yards, 13 TDs). Nolting was injured against Bishop Manogue, but Carson coach Blair Roman believes that Nolting will play. If Nolting doesn't play. I would expect to see a more-than-normal dose of Peterson.
DEFENSE: Carson, led by ball-hawking Sage Smith, defensive back Andrew Gutierrez, defensive tackle Jesse Knight and linebacker Austin Shaffer, is coming off a solid defensive effort against Bishop Manogue where it forced three turnovers. Carson needs to do three things to win - get Nolting out of his comfort zone, get a lot of hats to the ball whenever Peterson carries and keep Fisher in front of them. Tackles in the open field are vital tonight. Douglas gives up more than 40 points a game. Steve Henning and Zach Kinder are solid defensive tackles. Cody Hayes has 5.5 sacks
Connor Greth kicks for the Tigers, and has a 32-yard field goal to his credit. He's missed just three PATs all season. Casey Wolfe has missed some PATs and has two field goals to his credit. He's averaging more than 40 yards per punt. Kicking could play a big role in today's game, especially if it's a windy night.
Carson has won three straight in this rivalry - 34-6, 16-13 and 31-29. In the latter two games, Austin Pacheco kicked last-second field goals. This is more than a rivalry game. This means sitting out the playoffs, which is something neither school has done recently. Douglas hasn't missed the playoffs since 2000 and Carson since 2008.
Prediction: Carson 28, Douglas 27