During the last four weeks, Carson High’s running game has been in high gear, and it just happens to coincide with senior tackle Josue Orozco playing his best football of the season.
Carson has racked up 1,013 yards rushing in lopsided wins over Galena, Douglas, McQueen and Reno. The Senators are averaging 5.6 yards an attempt in that span, as the 220-pound Orozco, Kevin Rusler, Maurilio Olivares, Eddie Duarte, center Corey Jasper and tight end Ian Schulz have meshed together nicely during Carson’s seven-game winning streak which will be put to a severe test Saturday afternoon at Bishop Manogue against defending region champ Reed, 11-2, overall.
In Orozco’s last four outings, three starts and one time coming off the bench, he has graded out with three As and a B. The latter grade came against McQueen, and he redeemed himself from the first meeting between the teams back in early September when he graded out with a D.
“I think I’ve played pretty well,” Orozco said Monday morning. “I think I’m doing better than I did at the start of the season. I’ve been happy with my grades the last few weeks.
“I felt bad that game (against McQueen). I had a terrible game. The first game in the playoffs was against McQueen and I had a chance to redeem myself.”
And, he has done that.
“He has played his best ball the last few weeks,” said offensive line coach Jim Franz. “I worked with him on some technique stuff. We worked some on the fly sweep blocking, and that seemed to help.”
Another thing that helped, according to Franz, was getting pushed by Logan Menzel, who actually started the Galena game ahead of Orozco.
“I give Logan credit,” Franz said. “He really pushed Josue in practice.
“He was learning during the Galena game. He didn’t pout when Logan started. He just continued to work hard and got his job back. That is a credit to him.”
Orozco and Maurilio Olivares have flipped back and forth between tackle and guard this year. Orozco started the season at tackle, was moved inside to guard, and is now back out at tackle. Orozco and Olivares play together on the power side of the formation along with whoever lines up at tight end.
“We were having some trouble on the offensive line, and they decided to switch things up a little,” Orozco said. “I guess they thought Maurilio would be a little better on the outside. We’re both about the same speed. I really don’t know why they switched us. It was Maurilio at guard and me at tackle. We’re used to that. I think coach Franz wanted to try something new. Playing guard was fun, but I like playing tackle more.”
“We were looking at options to make us a better offensive line,” Franz said. “We weren’t getting some of the blocks we needed, and overall his intensity wasn’t quite there. He has come around.”
The experience of starting last year has helped. Orozco and Olivares played opposite Andrew Cooper and Aaron Cowee a season ago, and that quartet along with Noah Teixeira paved the way for a potent ground attack in 2013.
“I’m more intense and getting off the ball better this year,” Orozco said. “The experience I got last year helped. I have more confidence.”
And it has shown in his play in recent weeks.
Orozco didn’t pick up football until the seventh grade, and one of his friends who urged him to play was current teammate Olivares.
“I started playing soccer when I was tiny,” Orozco said. “I was in middle school, and Maurilio and some of my other friends wanted me to come out and play football. I was pretty big (too big for Pop Warner), and I played in Excel Athletics spring league. The league was in Douglas County, but they kept all the Carson kids together so I could play with all of my friends.
“I fell in love with the game and stopped playing soccer. It was the best decision I ever made. It was more fitting to me.”
Orozco knows Carson will have its hands full this week.
“They are a tough team like always,” Orozco said. “They are a good team and they fly around on defense.
“Our offense has been playing well. We’ve been throwing the ball. I like that because it makes us a better overall team; more balanced.”
One guy who Orozco may see a lot of is defensive tackle Nick Gregg (6-1, 260), who has 80 stops, second-best on the team.
Sione Taukiuvea, the Raiders’ middle linebacker, has 63 stops. Both players have five tackles for loss this year.
“He (Gregg) is a big guy,” Orozco said. “He gets off the ball well. He reminds me of the players from Clayton Valley with his size.”