Carson High's football team, which has won or shared the last three Northern 4A/Sierra League football titles, gets the 2012 season under way today with two practices.
The Senators, who went 10-2 and reached the state semifinals a year ago, will work out from 8 to 10:30 a.m., and then come back at 11:30 for another 60-minute workout.
"We're definitely ready to go," coach Blair Roman said in a telephone interview on Wednesday afternoon. "I definitely think that target (on our back) is getting bigger and bigger.
"We've won a lot of games, and teams that didn't beat us last year or the last couple of years ..."
Carson will start the season without returning quarterback Matt Nolan, who is presently academically ineligible.
Nolan will continue to work with the team while trying to make up the schoolwork. Roman said the earliest Nolan could play is at first grade check which is midway through the year. If Nolan doesn't bring up his grade, he will miss the entire season.
It's certainly a disappointing way to start the season. Nolan completed 67 percent of his passes a year ago for 1,475 yards and 11 scores. He also hurt teams with his quick feet and athleticism.
"Matt is an impact player," Roman said. "I had a long talk with him today. He's anxious to get back once his academics are squared away."
But the big question is can Nolan make up his classwork, and if he does, where will he play?
Garrett Schafer, a 6-foot-3 junior, saw limited action with the Senators last year. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 62 yards and a score. He'll hold down the job for at least the first four games.
"A lot of it (where Nolan plays when he comes back) will hinge on Garrett's progress," Roman said. "The other part of it is what's best for the team. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. It's the only way to approach it."
Roman expects the offense to be ahead of the defense because of the depth of the offensive line. The Senators return Joe Zinda, Javier Torres, Levi Carter, Aaron Cowee, Jose Victor, Jordan Woodward, Ramon Marquez and Lee Rusler along with tight end Luke Maher.
Maher, Logan Krupp and Sage Smith all started games for the Senators on the defensive side of the ball. Cody Cunningham, a junior, was a late-season call-up and saw significant action in the post-season.