Although tonight's 7 p.m. interdivisional football contest at Carson High School between the Senators and Reed won't mean anything in the Northern 4A playoff race, it would be wrong to say the game is meaningless.
The Senators are looking toward the game as an opportunity to continue the momentum they built in last week's 34-17 win against Fallon. They also hope to use it as a springboard for their two final games of the season against South Tahoe and Douglas - two divisional games Carson essentially must win if it's going to advance to the playoffs.
Oh yeah, and did anyone mention it was the Raiders who knocked Carson out of the playoffs last year, 36-29 on a last-minute gimmick play en route to their zone championship appearance?
"It's definitely a pride sort of thing," said Carson quarterback Jordan Payette. "We want to get on a roll, and beating Reed would be a good way to do it."
If the Senators do defeat Reed tonight, it would be in upset fashion. Despite Carson's win over the Greenwave last week, the Senators have struggled this year to a 2-4 overall record, while Reed is 5-1. The Raiders' only loss came to Division I leading Elko.
Carson coach Bob Bateman said the Senators can't help but improve by playing one of the zone's better teams, ranked No. 5 in the state in one Nevada media poll.
"It certainly won't hurt us to play a high-caliber team with great athletes like Reed," Bateman said. "The last three or four games between Carson and Reed have been great games. We're playing with confidence again, and it should be another close game."
A key to the game for Carson will be whether it can contain Raider quarterback Lamar Lee, who has blossomed this season into one of the zone's premier players. This season, he's thrown for 859 yards and 10 touchdowns (with no interceptions), including three last Friday against Galena.
But it's Lee's ability to run as well as throw that makes him so dangerous in Bateman's opinion.
"He can beat you all by himself," Bateman said. "The best way to beat (Reed) is to keep the ball out of his hands."
Defensive end Gonzalo Cavillo said the defensive players know what they have to do to stop Lee.
"Pretty much, we've got to go hard like always and put pressure on him while being smart," Cavillo said. "We know what he's going to do.
"We believe we can play with Reed - we'll see what happens."
In addition to Lee, Reed has a number of other offensive options, including running back Mark Drew (4.9 avg., 3 TDs) and receiver Brian Gorsett (3 TD receptions last week against Galena).
"It will be a case of 'bend, don't break' for our defense," Bateman said. "Their offense has a full package; we've got to play good, sound defense and wrap up and tackle. What we can't do is play sound defense and then give up a 50-yard play."
Bateman said one of the goals for Carson tonight is to execute better on offense for the entire game. Doug Brooks, fifth in the zone in rushing with 543 yard and six TDs on 77 carries, will likely be Carson's workhorse on the ground tonight along with Evan McQuirk, especially with Steve Schofield out with an injured ankle.
Other Carson players missing the game tonight with injuries include: Luke Chavez (out for season with torn quad, MCL), Dan Jones (torn groin muscle), Paul Mack (broken hand), Kyle Troescher (knee ligament), Andrew Maier (concussions), Pat Binder (neck) and Tyrel Armstrong (neck).
Notes: The new stadium lights have arrived but haven't been installed yet Payette ranks ninth among zone QBs with 464 yards on 40 completions and two TDs.