Carson High School running back Chris Kotter is flat-out tough. How tough? Just ask coach Shane Quilling, or anyone who plays defense for the Senators, for that matter.
"Chris is just dirt tough," Quilling said. "He runs hard in practice. He runs scout teams and he gives our defense a great look. And that helps them, because if they don't go hard, heck, he runs over them."
No wonder the senior is knocking on the door to surpass 1,000 yards rushing for the Senators, who play their final regular season home game Thursday night against Fallon. The game will feature two of the top rushers in the Northern 4A: Siosa Latu of Fallon, who has gained 892 yards for the Greenwave (1-6), and Kotter, who has 879 yards and 11 touchdowns through seven games for Carson (4-3 overall, 3-2 in Sierra League).
If you think Kotter looks tough watching from the stands, try getting out on the field with him. Jack Brooks, for one, is glad to be playing on the same team.
"Yeah, definitely," Brooks said of Kotter. "He's tough as can be. That kid's got it all. Other than size, he runs hard, he's got speed, he hits hard, he does everything he can do. He's a good back."
Standing in at 5-foot-8 and 160-pounds, Kotter is not an imposing sight on the field. It doesn't matter. Inside or outside, it doesn't matter, Kotter is a threat in Carson's Veer offense. Oh, and by the way, Kotter placed third in the 160-pound weight class at the 4A state wrestling tournament back in February.
"He's a typical Veer back," Quilling said. "You don't need the hulking size, you just need somebody who hits the hole hard. The Veer is quick hitting; the read may be slow, but man, when we give it, it's quick.
"And the thing that's so good about Chris, not only does he hit the hole hard, he hits it fast. He just explodes off the ball. He's past the backers and into the secondary before they know it. When he hits it and there's a hole, he's got 15, 20, 40 or 70 (yards)."
Kotter has averaged 8.12 yards per carry for the season and scored four times from beyond midfield this season, including a 76-yard pass reception against South Tahoe and a 71-yard run against North Valleys.
He has scored nine touchdowns in three games so far in October and rushed for a season-high 215 yards in Carson's 42-14 win against Wooster two weeks ago.
"I'm having a great year with the football," said Kotter, who placed third in the 160-pound weight class at the 4A state wrestling tournament back in February. "Last year was tough because we had (Josh) Carter and we had just put in a new offense. Now this year, we already have some experience with the offense, so it's working for us."
Kotter's numbers could be even greater. He rushed for 145 yards on only had 14 carries against North Valleys, but only had three carries after halftime in a game the Senators won 56-7. He had 73 yards on 10 carries in a 61-8 win against South Tahoe on Oct. 4, although he caught two passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns that night. The only other time all season Kotter has not surpassed 100 yards came in week two against Galena, where he had 75 yards on 7 carries, although one of those carries was a 52-yard touchdown dash in the fourth quarter that carried the Senators to a 20-7 come-from-behind victory.
Kotter was quick to share the credit, too. He wouldn't be able to do any of this with the offensive line.
"We have a lot of younger linemen, and we don't have a lot of size, but those guys work and work. They do what they need to do and that opens it up for me," Kotter said. "If I have a good block for the first 5 yards, I'll gain 10 to 15 yards, no matter what. For me, the first 5 yards are the power yards, to get my body moving. From there on, I can start laying hits and running and doing my moves. But that's why I've been doing so good this year, because we have the first 5 yards already blocked. They just do an awesome job."
Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal