Carson High’s second bye week of the season couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Senators were mired in a three-game losing streak, and they desperately needed to re-group heading into the regular-season finale against the rival Douglas Tigers.
The two weeks of practice paid huge dividends. The Senators, thanks in big part to the offensive line that opened up enough holes for Abel Carter to gain 421 yards and score five times, pounded the Tigers, 59-28, to earn a first-round playoff game at Reno Thursday night (7 p.m.).
Despite constant changes to the offensive line, the Senators are still averaging a respectable 267 yards rushing per game, which is respectable when you consider the passing game has been lacking.
The current group of center Brandon Macias, tight end Vinny Hershman, guards Carl Cavner and Jonathan Acosta plus tackles Dallin Shaffer and Nikolaus Desormier have done a solid job despite a plethora of injuries and personnel changes.
“The bye week was really beneficial,” said Vic Castro, Carson’s line coach. “We’re on our ninth different line-up of the year. We are starting to get dialed in. The Thursday of the bye week, the kids stayed an hour extra to work on individual things and to work together as a group.
“Brandon and Dallin felt bad about losing to Douglas last year. They felt they didn’t play well in the red zone. I think the offensive line felt they owed Abel a big game, and they did that.”
It was all about execution, according to Shaffer and Macias.
“We worked in practice during the bye week on their blitzes,” Macias said. “We were able to pick them up, and when they didn’t come, we were still able to pick them (defenders) up and we were able to run our scoop zone; inside zone game and open things up for Abel.”
“We worked on execution last week (during the bye week),” Schafer said after the Douglas game. “The coaches pushed us to execute.”
The great thing about Carter is he doesn’t need huge holes. He has great vision, and he hesitates, taps his feet, and then jets through the smallest of openings. And, once he gets to the second level, he’s often gone. He has the ability to run away from linebackers and defensive backs. That makes the line’s job a little easier.
A big key according to coach Blair Roman and Castro has been the addition of Acosta, who started the season on the defensive line. He’s now starting on the offensive line and filling in on the defensive side of the ball.
“He has been a great addition to the mix,” Roman said. “He played offensive line last year. He started the season on the defensive line, but because of injuries we had to move him to the offensive line. He played there last year, so it took a couple of weeks to piece things together and learn the ‘rules.’ He is a very aggressive 1-on-1 blocker. He runs well and pulls well.”
“His (Acosta’s) technique is not where it needs to be yet, but he has a different level of nastiness,” Castro said.”Coach Roman has already told Jon that he is so good on both sides of the ball that he is going to be a two-way player.”
Moving forward, the offensive line has a chance to excel next season, too.
Starters Cavner, Desormier and Acosta all return, and the offensive line is always a good place to start. Cole Ashton, Clayton Greene, Garrett Clampitt and Aiden Maldonado also return.
Ashton got some extended time earlier this year. Greene has started several games this year, but he has had nagging injuries. He came out of the Douglas game with an ankle injury on the first drive of the game.
“Cole (Ashton) has improved his technique,” Castro said. “Clampitt has the technique, but he needs to get stronger. Figuring out who will be center is the biggest thing. Clampitt is about the same size as the Damonte center.”