SPARKS - All day long Carson running backs Dylan Sawyers and Connor Beatty carried the load, seeing their openings clearly and executing their plays flawlessly on the way to scoring two touchdowns apiece.
And with coach Ron Pacheco busy addressing his victorious Carson Senators Pop Warner Midget Division team (for 12 to 14-year-olds), it looked like Beatty and Sawyers would succeed in sneaking up behind their coach and drenching him with a bucket of ice water.
But the pair's teamwork fell apart at the last second and Beatty ended up thumping the plastic bucket off the back of Pacheco's head before slipping and having the avalanche of ice cubes fall on top of him as he lay on his back.
Although their postgame celebration needs some work, the Senators were strong on the field, taking a 31-0 victory over the Reno Patriots in the Snow Bowl - the championship game - Saturday at Don Mello Sports Complex
With the win, Carson improved to 9-0 and advanced to the regional championship, to be held Nov. 24 in Santa Clara, Calif.
"We executed great," said Pacheco, who apparently didn't mind getting gonged with a bucket to the melon. "After the first series, I thought, 'Holy cow, we may be in for a big battle.' But we pulled it together and did what we do best, which is play football."
Sawyers put Carson on the board less than three minutes into the first quarter, scooting into the end zone from 32 yards out. Austin Pacheco, Ron's son, added the first of three PATs (each worth 2 points) to make it 8-0.
Beatty followed up on the next offensive series with a 92-yard burst to give Carson a 16-0 first-quarter lead over the Patriots, whom the Senators defeated 30-2 earlier in the year.
Quarterback T.J. Menning hit Beatty for an 18-yard score at 7:33 of the second quarter. He rounded out the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Sawyers at the 3:05 mark and Pacheco's fake PAT and subsequent pass to Beatty made it 31-0, all the points the Senators would need against Reno.
The Patriots finished the season 7-2.
Carson has been dominant up to this point, outscoring the opposition 255-9 this season.
"They're a good team. We got 'em early," Pacheco said. "We knew if we got 'em early and could sustain it, we could do what we started out doing three weeks ago."
Pacheco, in his 18th and final season, said that by far this is his most talented team - including the 2004 squad that advanced to the national semifinals in Orlando, Fla. Pacheco said he is stepping down because Austin - a linebacker, wide receiver and kicker - will be a freshman at Carson High School next year.
"Our coaching staff is phenomenal," Pacheco said. "It's my last year and this is the way to go out."
Carson will get a bye next week before facing the winner of the Peninsula-Redwood City, Sunnyvale-Tri-City survivor in the regional championship game.
Pacheco is having both games filmed, so he, his staff and his team will be prepared when it next plays.
"We'll have four or five films on one (winning team) and two on the other," Pacheco said. "I hope we can win a couple more games and bring Nevada back a national championship."
JUNIOR PEE WEE DIVISION: SPARKS WOLF PACK 14, CARSON SENATORS 0
The Senators couldn't avenge their prior 20-18 loss to the Wolf Pack, which advanced to the regional Junior Pee Wee Division (for 9-11-year olds) regional championship game Nov. 18 in Santa Clara.
After a scoreless first quarter, 10-year-old Sparks tailback Treci Blanton took it around the left end for an 8-yard touchdown run with about 40 seconds remaining in the first half and added a 2-yard score with 2:36 to go in the third quarter to keep the Wolf Pack undefeated at 10-0.
Although the Senators, who ended their season at 8-2, had a strong game defensively from Aca Carter, Kye Catlin, Josiah Pongasi, and Tristan Bakkadahl, their offense was unable to get untracked until late in the game.
After Carson recovered a Sparks fumble on the Senators' 39-yard-line with 4:43 remaining in the game, quarterback Colby Brown gained 31 yards on an end-around to the Wolf Pack 30. On the next play Brown found Robert Carmazzi for a 9-yard completion at the 21. But the Senators could only penetrate to the 15 before being pushed back and stopped by the stingy Sparks defense.
"We came out and played hard," said Carson coach Delbert Bugg, who took the head coaching position for the first time this season after nine years as an assistant. "We had a big win last week against Douglas. It was hard to top that. We were a little flat. But we fought back and rebounded. I'm proud of the effort we showed today. It's a shame to lose, but credit to the Wolf Pack."
Bugg said Sparks was especially effective with its defense.
"They had some good stunts," he said. "We had a hard time picking up our blocks. They're a strong team. They have a tough defense. They have the most complex defense we've faced."
Bugg credited defensive coordinator Paul Harting for his own team's strong performance.
"Our defense played lights out all season," Bugg said. "I couldn't be more proud. Just to get here was incredible. All credit to (the Senators). They played hard."