If you look at the success of the Carson High football program since Blair Roman took the reins, you notice the quarterback play.
First there was Blake Plattsmeier followed by Trey Jensen and Matt Nolan. The trio each led Carson to a division or league championship. Jensen and Plattsmeier won titles as seniors, while Nolan won his junior year.
And now comes Garrett Schafer. He certainly has a tough act to follow, but as he enters his final season at CHS he embraces the challenge of being a starting quarterback for a high-profile program.
“I don’t think about former players,” the 6-3 175-pound Schafer said recently. “I want to finish something they started, which is to win a regional title. I want to finish the job. I have my own team.
“I understand a little more of the playbook. Last year I had problems with the speed of the game. I wasn’t used to playing against players bigger than me.”
Roman believes that Schafer, who saw some back-up action as a sophomore and made several starts last season, is ready to come into his own.
“We’ve had two senior quarterbacks (Plattsmeier and Jensen) in a row that had great seasons,” Roman said. “I believe Garrett can play to that level. He had a good camp, a really good camp. He has a big arm, a stronger arm than the other quarterbacks we’ve had.
“After last season I challenged him to take more of a leadership role. He’s become one of the team leaders. When you have a senior quarterback who is a team leader that is a nice luxury to have as a coach.”
The one big difference for Schafer, who led the Senators to four early season wins last year, is that he knows he is the guy under center this year. Schafer and Matt Nolan split time under center last season, going from play-to-play and series to series.
“I’d never been in a situation where I had to share a spot,” Schafer said. “It made me work a lot harder for this season. Some of the plays I could have done better.”
Translation? Schafer admits he could have been more consistent.
Schafer completed 84 of 179 passes for 1,052 yards and eight touchdowns. He also threw six interceptions. Normally you would like to see a 2-1 ratio between TDs and interceptions. His 46.9 completion percentage definitely needs to improve.
“We need him to be really efficient,” Roman said. “He can hit six or seven in a row and then he’ll miss the next four or five. He should be around 60 percent. Trey was at 66 and I think Matt was at 67 his junior year. There is no reason why he can’t do that.”
When Schafer was at his best last year, he was really good. He engineered last-drive comebacks against both Reno and Reed.
The Carson QB completed 15 of 32 for 181 yards and a score in a 13-10 win over Reno in Week 2. Trailing 10-7, Schafer took the Senators 99 yards in 12 plays for a winning score with 20 seconds left in the game. The big play was a 39-yard strike to Gehrig Tucker which kept the drive alive and gave the Senators a first down at the Reno 15. Schafer was 7-for-12 on the last drive.
Schafer’s next big game came in Carson’s last win, an upset of Reed. Again, Schafer was just average until the last drive when everything came together. He was 13-for-24 for 166 yards and two TDs, including 6-for-12 on the game-winning drive. He completed a 16-yard pass to Nolan on the last play of the game.
Those two drives were the defining moments of Schafer’s year. He wants, and the Senators need, more moments like that from him. He needs to avoid games like McQueen when he threw for less than 100 yards.
“I’m a lot more comfortable now,” Schafer said. “I can check down to different plays. I like the responsibility. I like being in charge of stuff. I know for us to win I have to have more passing and running yards than I did last year.”
Carson’s scheme requires quarterbacks to make plays with their feet, both by design and when the pass rush forces the signal caller out of the pocket.
“I’m not worried about how many yards he makes on the ground,” Roman said. “We need him to do well enough to keep defenses honest.”
Carson practiced without pads on Thursday. The Senators are preparing for a Aug. 24 scrimmage. Carson opens the season Aug. 30 at Hug.