If defense does indeed win championships, the Carson High football team looks like a club that could achieve its goal of winning the Sierra League title.
The Senators shouldn't reserve a place for that league championship trophy just yet, particularly since they haven't even begun conference play. But when Carson hosts Hug at 7:30 p.m. Friday in its league opener, the Senator defense will be expected to come up big as it has in the first two games of the season.
Carson's defense was impressive in a season-opening 19-13 overtime loss to Elko and last week's 20-7 win over Galena.
The Senators really didn't allow a legitimate drive for a touchdown against two of Northern Nevada's better teams. One of Elko's scores and Galena's scores came after turnovers deep in Senator territory.
Elko's other score in regulation came at the end of the first half when it went 77 yards on just two plays. The Indians' score in overtime came when they started with the ball at the 10-yard line.
Carson's defensive play has been particularly impressive since the Senators held Elko and Galena scoreless numerous times after turnovers deep in their own territory. Galena could only take a 7-0 lead after three turnovers in Carson territory in the first quarter.
"They've played well," said Carson coach Shane Quilling about his defense. "They've played very well. They've been put in a lot of situations where they could have given up a bunch of points.
"They're doing a great job of keeping us in the game and giving us a chance to win."
Carson was a bend, but not break defense at times against Elko as the Indians were able to mount -- but not sustain drives. Quilling, though, doesn't want a bend, but don't break reputation for his defense. "I don't really like that philosophy," he said.
Against Galena, Carson only gave up 160 total yards. Still, Quilling knows his defense can become better.
Taking nothing away from Elko, the Indians' big plays were more due to his team's breakdowns, Quilling said.
"That was more our fault, not tackling," he said. "We can play better. We're still growing."
Junior outside linebacker Nick Shine, who had 14 tackles against Elko, agreed.
"There's always room to improve," Shine said. "We keep getting better and better.
"I think our defense is doing a pretty good job. We've got to keep it up to win all of our games. If everyone's doing their job, we stick people."
Shine is a big reason why Carson's defense has "shined," Quilling said.
"Nick Shine is a big-time player," Quilling said. "He's a very, very physical player that finds a way to the ball. He makes things happen."
But Quilling was quick to note that his entire defense has been a force. Outside linebacker Jack Brooks has four sacks and inside linebacker Jon Stewart has been solid.
Against the likes of top Division I prospects Pete and Jeff Cavander, Carson's defensive line led by Mike Moore, Allen Wooldridge, Brian Welch and David Cadwaller has held its own.
"We played pretty well against them," said Quilling about the Cavenders.
Team speed is the defense's strength. "Our overall speed has really helped," Quilling said.
The defense also has plenty of leadership, including team captains, Wooldridge and defensive back George Pincock. "We've actually got a lot of leaders on defense," Shine said.
The ultimate goal obviously is a shutout. "I don't like it when offenses score on us," Shine said. "Every defense wants a shutout and that's our goal every game."
Quilling said Hug could be Carson's toughest challenge, yet, because of its team speed. He said Hug is much like his team in that respect.
"If you miss us, we're gone, too," Quilling said. "It might be a little tougher than Elko.
It's a different type of challenge. They give their athletes the ball and put them in a situation to make plays."
Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.