Second place is at stake when Carson hosts arch-rival Douglas Thursday in the 75th annual battle between the area rivals.
Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.
Both teams are 2-1 in league entering the final regular-season contest. Carson is 5-3 overall and Douglas is 4-4.
Carson comes into the contest with a 49-22-3 advantage in the series history, including wins in six of the last seven contests. The Senators also come in without two key starters — quarterback Jace Keema (foot) and middle linebacker Justin Tschetter (knee). Both are out for the remainder of the season.
The Tigers enter the game averaging 329 yards a game compared to 383 for the Senators. This game, at least on paper, is as close as its ever been.
“This game is going to come down to whomever wins in the trenches,” Carson coach Blair Roman said.
Translation. Whomever defends the run the best will likely win the game. Both teams are run heavy, Carson even more so after Keema suffered a lisfranc fracture of his foot against Bishop Manogue.
“They are running the ball more this year,” Roman said. “The have a combination of speed (Dawson Coman) and power (Ryalnd Desomber). Their quarterback (Hunter Hickey) is the type of quarterback who can hurt you with his feet. He’s a solid passer.“
Desomber has gained 668 yards and scored twice, while Coman has 536 yards and one rushing TD. Hickey is the third-leading rusher at 423 yards and three scores. Dakota Lowden has gained 185 yards and Will Williams has 156 yards.
Coman is even more of a threat returning kicks. He has brought back three kick-offs for scores, including a 97-yarder last week in the win over Galena. Roman said his plan is to kick it deep and cover, or better yet get a touchback.
“He (Coman) has brought back two or three,” Roman said. “We have faced three or four teams, including Douglas, with dangerous kick returners.”
Douglas has moved Reagan Roberson to outside linebacker. The returning all-league performer has 32 tackles this year. Lowden leads the team with 64 stops.
PROUD DADS: Thursday will be an emotional day for Carson head coach Blair Roman and assistant coach Shane Quilling.
Jake Roman and Connor Quilling are two of the 25 seniors who will be honored prior to Thursday’s game.
“It started to hit me after the Damonte Ranch game,” Roman said. “The thing about Jake is that he is so coachable. It’s tough to have your dad as a coach, especially the head coach, and he’s handled it well. It says a lot about him as a person.”
“It’s pretty awesome,” Quilling said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be able to coach both of my sons (Chance and Connor) because they were both linebackers, and we have had the opportunity to experience a lot of success; win a lot of games.”
Roman has been the Senators’ snapper for punts and field goals/PATs, and he has carried the ball eight times for 40 yards. He also has four tackles on special teams. Quilling, meanwhile, has chalked up 15 tackles in action as a linebacker and on special teams.
LINEUP CHANGE: With cornerback Landon Truesdale still not 100 percent, Roman is moving Spencer Rogers back to cornerback where he will team with Kyle Glanzmann. Brandon Gagnon takes over at safety.
Gagnon has 27 tackles, has caused a fumble and deflected seven passes. Rogers is a solid tackler and was one of the team’s top tacklers last season.
AT STAKE: The winner of Thursday’s game will host a first-round playoff game on Nov. 4 against Spanish Springs. The loser will travel to Reno to face the powerhouse Huskies.