Alan Cohen played football his freshman season, but it wasn’t the best of experiences.
Cohen injured his back and didn’t get to play receiver which is where he wanted to play. So, he stepped away from the sport his sophomore and junior years, electing to concentrate on basketball instead.
When spring practice started in last May, Cohen was back on the field working with the wide receivers.
“A lot of my friends are on the team,” Cohen said. “My freshman year just didn’t work out. I decided I wanted to play again; wanted to try the receiver thing.”
His addition has been huge to the 2013 Carson Senators. He has brought athleticism and length to the position. Heading into Friday’s regional final (7 p.m. at Damonte Ranch) against Reed, the 6-foot-4 Cohen leads the team with 23 catches for 394 yards and five scores. He leads the team in all three of those categories, and has shown to be dangerous in the red zone because of his height and leaping ability.
“Alan has had a good year,” said Carson head coach Blair Roman. “He doesn’t have a ton of catches, but that’s more because we don’t throw the ball as often as some teams, and we spread the ball around to different people.”
Eleven different players have caught passes for Carson this year. Four teammates — Joey Thurman (14 for 223), Andrew Gutierrez (12-247), Chase Blueberg (10-180) and Dilyn Rooker (17-339) — have double-digit catches. Carson receivers average more than 17 yards per catch, which is almost four yards better than pass-happy Reed’s total of 13.3. And, Carson throws a lot to its wingbacks.
Cohen is coming off what he feels was his best game of the season, a 27-10 win over Damonte Ranch. He grabbed four balls for 84 yards from Garrett Schafer, including a 25-yard touchdown.
“I had more yards against Manogue, but I feel I contributed more against Damonte Ranch,” Cohen said.
While Cohen’s numbers have been solid, there have been some growing pains along the way.
“I didn’t know the game,” Cohen admitted. “I had to learn all the plays.”
That wasn’t overly difficult given the fact that Cohen is very intelligent. It was the physicalness of the position that initially concerned Steve Dilley, who coaches wide receivers.
“It was huge,” Dilley said when asked about Cohen’s learning curve. “He didn’t play for a couple of years, so he missed a couple of years of growth. We weren’t sure how tough he was. I’d never seen him play, and you have to be able to block in our offense first and foremost. He’s not afraid to mix it up, though.”
“Also, understanding how to set up defensive backs, what will work and what won’t work. That’s taken some time.”
Cohen believes he is making strides, however, on both blocking and route running.
“Blocking was not something I was used to doing,” Cohen said. “It took some adjusting. I’m getting better. Running routes, I’ve run some good ones and some bad ones. It’s something you constantly work on.”