Senior Tyler Huling had some big shoes to fill when Carson High football practice started in August.
Huling was taking the wingback position so ably handled by Asa Carter the past two seasons. Carter, a dangerous runner and receiver, was the Sierra League Player of the Year the past two seasons.
You would think Huling would feel the pressure to put up some Carter-like numbers. Not so.
“Not really,” Huling said as he prepared for Friday’s Homecoming game against Galena. “I don’t compare myself to him or anybody else. Asa was a great athlete, and he helped me out a lot last year. Last year was a fun year. I liked and enjoyed playing with all of last year’s seniors.”
“I don’t think he did (feel pressure),” Carson head coach Blair Roman said. “Tyler was hurt a great deal of the year. I think he’s been upbeat and trying to put last year behind him. Asa was a featured performer in what we did (offensively). We played to Asa’s strength, and this year we’re playing to Tyler’s strengths in what we do.”
Huling got hurt twice in 2015. He sprained his neck in a 45-7 win at home against North Valleys, and then two weeks later separated his shoulder in a 58-0 home win over Hug.
Huling suited up for the regular-season finale against Douglas, but then was pressed into action when Greg Wallace suffered a neck injury in the 27-17 win over Reno. He started the regional championship game against Reed.
“I didn’t even know any of the new plays because I didn’t play Greg’s position,” Huling said.
“He played well the rest of that game against Reno, and he had a good game against Reed,” Roman said.
Huling doesn’t have huge numbers, but he has been productive. He has eight carries for 47 yards and a score, and he has caught five passes or 79 yards and a score. He’s averaging nearly a first down each time he touches the ball.
Against North Valleys, Huling caught a 34-yard first-quarter TD pass from Jace Keema which gave Carson a 14-0 lead. He also added a 6-yard reception in the 56-0 win.
“That felt so good (to get that TD),” Huling said. “I’d love to get a few more chances to run and catch the ball. We haven’t thrown much because our power game is going so well, and we‘ve kept the ball on the ground.”
That’s a no-brainer when you have Abel Carter, who’s averaging nearly 12 yards a carry. A team is going to run until it can’t, and that hasn’t happened yet this season.
“Though his stats don’t show it, he’s our fastest receiver,” Roman said. “We use him a lot in Asa’s spot when we go to a spread formation. We just haven’t had a chance to showcase that.”
Huling has been used more as a blocker than anything else, but he’s a dangerous runner as well, capable of turning the corner for big gainers.
“Blocking is important to me,” Huling said. “That is what playing H back is. You have to be a lot more physical. A lot of times Josh (Thompson) and I work together in the power game.”
It was a Huling block that sprung Carter on his game-opening 51-yard scoring run against North Valleys. Huling was called for a hold which wiped out a 69-yard scoring run by Carter, but Roman said after watching film that it was an incorrect call.
“He is like having a second tight end,” Roman said. “I would give him an A so far in terms of blocking. He brings a lot to our running game, and he has really good technique. If you forget about him in the running game, he’s going to hurt you.”