The biggest hurdle for Carson High’s football team in its quest for its first regional title since 1960 has been the Reed Raiders.
The Reed-Carson series has turned into one of the best rivalries in northern Nevada. The schools have met in the regional finals the last three years with Reed coming out on top each time. The regional championship goes through Reed, Carson football coach Blair Roman says before every season the Raiders are the favorite until somebody proves they can beat them.
Guess who’s coming to town on Friday?
Yep, the Raiders (1-1) visit the Jim Frank Track & Field Complex for a 7 p.m. game against the Senators, who are 1-1 after a 34-17 loss to Reno last Friday.
Reed has won seven of the last 10 meetings between the schools, including a 56-28 win in last year’s regional finals contest. Carson’s three wins were 54-27 in 2009 at Reed, a 20-0 win in the 2010 regional semifinals at Carson and a 32-30 regular-season win in 2012 at Carson.
“They are a good team,” Carson quarterback Jace Keema said after Monday’s practice. “Their quarterback (Cameron Emerson) is fast and athletic. I don’t know how good he is compared to their past quarterbacks, but obviously he is pretty good, Obviously it’s a different scheme compared to Reno. It will be a good game.”
Emerson has completed 22 of 32 passes for 237 yards and a score, and he’s run 21 times for 143 yards and two scores. Robert Ferrel has caught 11 passes for 93 yards, and Tre Bussey has carried 30 times for 264 yards and five scores.
“Bussey is a heck of a back,” Roman said. “He is an outstanding player on both sides of the ball.”
A LOOK AT LAST YEAR: The Senators started and finished their 10-2 season with losses to the Raiders, 44-27 and 56-28.
The last one saw Jorden Carter torch Carson for 242 yards and three scores despite the fact the Senators played seven men in the box to deal with Carter and the Raiders’ option attack triggered by Matt Denn.
That alignment left the Senators vulnerable on the outside, and the Raiders exploited that with their triple receiver set.
Shifty wide receiver Ferrell caught nine passes for 102 yards. Carson couldn’t get enough defensive bodies outside, and tight end Parker Houston made several good blocks to spring Ferrel.
“It was a pick your poison sort of thing,” Roman said. “We had to commit seven to stop the run. That opened up their “bubble” game. We’re looking to do a better job against both (bubble game and run game) this year.
“Reed has really good team speed. They have a couple of really big guys, but they don’t have overwhelming size like they had last year. Denn was a special player, but Emerson has looked really good so far.”
CHANGES FOR CHS: The passing game has struggled in the first two weeks, accounting for just 118 yards out of Carson’s 659 total yards.
Keema is 8 for 22 for 118 yards with four interceptions and no TD passes.
Not the type of ratio you like to have. Roman fully expects QBs to complete 60 percent of their passes in his ball-control offense.
Against Desert Mountain, Abel Carter ran well enough Carson didn’t have to throw much. Against Reno, the line was outplayed by Reno’s defensive front, and Keema was under severe pressure most of the game. When he did have time, he missed receivers.
“The first issue is our pass protection,” Roman said. “In the two games, we probably had a dozen instances that we missed assignments. I feel like we have shored that up. Our offensive line is going to get better. Jace can make all the throws we’re calling. All I have to do is flip on the Galena film from last year to see how well he can throw the ball (10-for-14, 159 yards). We need to play to his strength. As the season goes on, we’ll see better things, including better decision making.”
Roman has moved Blaise Bonomo to left tackle and Sheldon Miller is moving to left guard. Brandon Macias starts at center while Dallin Shaffer starts at right guard with Bryceton Schilling at right tackle.
“This is the best five linemen we have,” Roman said. “We have to be careful with Blaise and Sheldon to make sure they get rest on defense.”
INJURY REPORT: Jordan Aikins (elbow) returned last week and played 10 snaps. Reserve running back Kyle Rudy (shoulder) is a game-time decision. Other than assorted bumps and bruises, the Senators are healthy entering the showdown against their High Desert rivals.