Muckers 'Railroaded' as Carlin rolls to win

BY MIKE HOUSER

Appeal Sports Writer

VIRGINIA CITY " Carlin's team mascot may be the Railroaders, but on Saturday its football team came out like a speeding locomotive against new North 1A Division rival Virginia City.

Senior quarterback Kyle Mecham ran for one touchdown and threw for four more as the Railroaders, formerly of the East 1A, jumped out to a 40-0 first-half lead before coasting to a 40-13 win over the Muckers at Virginia City High School.

Mecham went 6-for-8 with 170 yards and the Railroaders outgained Virginia City 338-209 along the way to improve to 3-0 (2-0 in league). The Muckers played in the West Division last season.

"Carlin is a tough team " in my opinion, they're probably the best team in the state," said Virginia City head coach Ron Presley, whose Muckers fell to 1-2 overall and in league play.

"I came out wanting to focus on the pass attack," said seventh-year Carlin head coach Myron Branning. "(Mecham) came out and stepped up to the plate, most definitely."

So, figuratively and nearly literally speaking, did the rest of the Raidroaders, who played their entire varsity and junior varsity squad, including 14 running backs who rushed for a combined 153 yards on 36 carries.

"A lot of those kids don't see playing time," Branning said. "They come to practice. They buy into our program. They know their roles and accept it. The defense did a real good job. We have to work in a few more plays. It's a matter of everyone knowing their assignment "that's what we need to get going."

Carlin junior linebacker Rex Westerwelle got the Railroaders started early, intercepting Muckers quarterback Zach Shell on the third play of the game. Four plays later, Mecham scored on a 4-yard run.

On the Railroaders' next possession, Mecham found J.D. Thuringer for a 40-yard catch and run and a 14-0 lead. The Muckers' subsequent drive ended with a Shell fumble on the Carlin 20.

Mecham made the Muckers pay and hooked up with Jorge Armendariz for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of the series. Mecham added touchdown passes of 2 yards (to Chris Hyatt) and 9 yards (to Thuringer) for a 33-0 lead (kicker Tommy Van Tassel had one extra point blocked and missed another).

Junior running back Chris Salas ripped off a 51-yard touchdown run to round out the scoring for the Railroaders, who under Branning have won two Class 1A state championships and six league titles. Last year, Carlin lost to Tonopah in the state championship game.

"We have some good leaders this year," said Branning, whose Railroaders have also beaten Tonopah and Smith Valley this season. "It's easy to coach these guys. I look forward to getting up every day and coaching these 35 kids."

The Muckers took advantage of a Carlin fumble in the third quarter and five plays later got on the board when junior Luiz Alfonzo picked up a Shell fumble on the 4-yard line and took it in.

Before fumbling, Shell had gained 15 yards on the keeper.

Shell, who picked up 45 yards on 20 carries added 70 yards on 2-for-6 passing, swept in from 5 yards out to round out the scoring with 1:16 remaining in the third quarter.

Virginia City, which committed five turnovers, forced two Carlin turnovers in the third quarter and held the Railroaders scoreless in the second half.

"But Carlin had a lot of their subs in," Presley was quick to add. "I thank Carlin's coach for taking it easy on us. You don't get any better unless you play the best and learn. We did. You play the best teams, learn and pretty soon we'll be the best team."

Salas' 51 yards was enough to lead all Carlin rushers, while junior Colt Dotson's 52 yards on 18 carries led Virginia City.

"We have three seniors who are basically sophomores (because the program is in its second year)," Presley said. "They have 12 seniors on Carlin. Zach (Shell's) class will be our first true senior class. I'm looking forward to that. We're a new program. You have to take your lumps before you play with the big dogs."

Virginia City will next host Wells on Saturday at 1 p.m.

"Their numbers are down. I hear they have 15, 16 players," Presley said of the Leopards. "All we can do is play " strap it up and see what we can do."

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