When you look at Carson High’s 5-5 football season, you wonder what went wrong, and the answer is a simple one.
You can sum it up in one word, and it’s eight words long, starting with an I and ending with an S. If you guessed injuries, go to the head of the class.
The 2016 season was just the third time in Blair Roman’s nine-year tenure the Senators failed to finish above .500.
The first time was Roman’s first year (2008) when the Senators went 3-7. In 2012, the Senators went 4-5, failing to win a Sierra League game, after starting the season 4-1. That team had poor senior leadership and not a lot of buy-in.
This year was different, and the problems started in the summer when wingback Greg Wallace went down with a meniscus injury. He accounted for 982 yards from scrimmage and 12 TDs last season.
Midway through the season came the killer blow when quarterback Jace Keema suffered a lisfranc injury to his foot at Bishop Manogue. That type of injury results if bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments that support the midfoot are torn.
Linebacker Justin Tschetter and Bryceton Schilling also would suffer season-ending injuries during Sierra League play.
“It wasn’t that we had bad attitudes, were overmatched or didn’t work hard,” Roman said earlier this week. “It was unfortunate (the injuries), and that’s what I told the players.
“I don’t like or want to make excuses, but you lose four senior studs to injury, and you are going to feel it. If we have those four for the whole year, I don’t see us losing a game in the regular season. I don’t see us losing to Reed at home.”
The fact is, Carson should have beaten Reed anyway. The Senators had a couple of fourth-quarter defensive breakdowns and dropped a 47-41 thriller.
“Losing Keema at a key part of the season (was key),” Roman said. “We had to play a junior (Daniel Morrison) who didn’t play at all his sophomore season because of an injury.
“Despite losing Greg, we were averaging 400 yards a game offensively (until we lost Jace), and that says a lot about our system and our kids. The other thing that many people don’t know is that we were going to use Jace (some) on defense in the post-season.”
Roman said quarterback play is his No. 1 priority entering next season.
Morrison will be back, and he’ll be competing with JV starter Blake Menzel for the starting job.
Abel Carter played some quarterback when Carson went to a wildcat formation against Reno, but Roman said he won’t hang his hat on that.
“It’s more of a gimmick,” Roman said. “Reno knew we weren’t able to throw the ball that well.”
Carter topped the 100-yard mark that game, and he’s a tough inside runner. He accounted for 1,887 yards and 24 TDs rushing in what was one of the most dominant seasons in recent northern Nevada history. He will be the focal point of opposing defenses next year, even more so than this year.
Another thing that has Roman excited is the offensive line. The Senators lose Schilling and Sheldon Miller, but they return Brandon Macias, Blaise Bonomo, Chandler Tierney and Dallin Shaffer. Also in the mix is Carl Cavner, who was brought up for the playoffs and actually started against Reno. The Senators return Vinny Hershman, who backed up Josh Thompson this past year.
Defensively, Roman said he’s looking at defensive ends and defensive tackles. Landon Truesdale and Kyle Glanzmann return in the secondary, but Spencer Rogers and Brandon Gagnon are big losses. Richie Romero, Carter and Dawson Lamb give Carson a good nucleus at linebacker, and Lamb saw extensive action as a junior.
Another area Roman must fill is finding a punter and place-kicker to replace Gagnon and Johnny Barahona.
Barahona was 21-for-28 on field goals in his career, including four over 40 yards this year en route to a 10-for-12 effort this year. Barahona was 132-for-136 on PATs.
“Johnny had a good career,” Roman said. “I think he has a chance to kick at the next level.”
Roman, who has indicated he will return for a 10th season, feels he has his entire coaching staff from freshman to varsity on the right track. He may have to replace linebacker coach Shane Quilling, who has been talking about leaving at the end of the year. No doubt there may be some arm pulling going to keep Quilling around.
“I’m excited for next year,” Roman said. “I think we’re going to sneak up on a lot of people.”