Roman honors Carson seniors
Carson High football coach Blair Roman has had nearly three weeks to look back on the Senators’ 10-2 season, which included a share of a third straight league title.
Roman bid farewell to his senior class Monday night at the annual season-ending banquet at the Carson Nugget. Traditionally, it’s a night where the entire senior class is honored, and this was a very special class.
It was Carson’s third straight winning season under Roman, who after a 3-6 first year has put together two 10-2 seasons and a 9-3 season. It’s safe to say that the Senators’ program has turned a corner and is on a definite upswing.
“As I look back, we accomplished all three of our main goals – we beat Douglas, we won the league championship for the third year in a row and we advanced as far as we could in the post-season,” Roman said. “Why I’m so proud of the seniors is over the last two years they went 8-0 in league for the first time in school history and 15-1 over the last two years. There is no way you can do that unless the kids buy into what you are doing as a coaching staff, and I feel we accomplished a lot of positive things in that regard.
“It was a good year, unfortunately the last game (49-0 loss to Reed at UNR) left a bad taste in our mouths the way the score turned out and the fact we didn’t play our best. As a program, we have to find a way to play a lot better if we get there again.”
It was a difficult way to end the season, and no doubt Roman will use it as a motivating tool.
“Most good programs don’t arrive overnight,” Roman said. “Take coach (Ernie) Howren at Reed. It took him 10 years to get to the state championship game. When you get to that high level, it’s different than the league season.
“I’m very proud of the season. A 10-2 record is very good. It was not too long ago that 10-2 would have been unthinkable here.”
This was a team, compared to the last three years, that depended heavily on its offense for success. The Senators averaged 33 points per game and gained 360.8 yards a contest.
Dylan Sawyers capped off a stellar career with 1,770 yards total offense and 27 touchdowns (24 rushing, 2 receiving, 1 passing). Brock Pradere turned into one of the top receivers in 4A football with 38 catches for 749 yards and six scores. He also added 62 tackles and a 100-yard interception return. Chance Quilling gained 394 yards on the ground and scored four times, and he also caught 22 passes for 325 yards and two scores. He also threw a halfback option pass for a score against Manogue.
Austin Pacheco averaged more than six yards a carry and 12.3 yards per reception in accounting for three scores. He kicked nine field goals, averaged 38 yards a punt and had more than 30 touchbacks. He had back-to-back game-winning field goals to beat Manogue and Douglas. The kick to beat Manogue was a 64-yarder, which helped get him named to the national Blue-Grey high school all-star game in January.
Two skill-position underclassmen made big contributions on the offensive side of the ball – Joey Thurman and quarterback Matt Nolan. Thurman, a sophomore, accounted for 350 total yards and three scores. Nolan completed 67 percent of his throws this year for 1,475 yards and 11 scores. Also back is junior-to-be quarterback Garrett Schafer, who played significantly in the wins against Hug and Galena. He is a traditional dropback passer.
“Matt was very productive this year,” Roman said. “I expect Matt to be a team leader next year and to have an exceptional year. I have a high confidence level with Matt as our quarterback.”
The offensive line, which went through constant changes a year ago, should be solid next year. Joe Zinda, Levi Carter, Aaron Cowee and Jordan Woodward all saw a lot of playing time. They will be a year older and a year stronger.
This year’s defense allowed an average of 20 points a game, an average that went up three points after the Reed game. It’s a unit that gave up a lot of yards, but did a solid job of keeping teams out of the end zone.
Seniors dominated with Logan Peternell (131), Patrick Hesse (112), Pacheco (85), Patrick Cooke (74) and Quilling (72) leading the team in tackles.
What will next year bring is a long way from being known. The JV team did go 8-0 this season, and Roman said there are some talented players coming up.
“People always ask me how I think we’ll be,” Roman said. “I think we’ll be a good team. We’ll be trying to find guys to fill the shoes of Dylan, Chance, Austin and Brock on offense. We’re losing good players, but we’ve lost good players the last three years. I expect the young kids to fill those shoes.”
The big concern will be on the defensive line, according to Roman.
The coach has linebacker Luke Maher, linebacker Logan Krupp and linebacker Sage Smith, all of whom played quality time this year, back on the defensive side of the ball. That is a solid group to start with. Also in the mix is Cody Cunningham, who started the regional championship game at linebacker.
Dexter Cummings, Gunnar Harper and Jacob Connell are the top three candidates for the secondary next year, though Nolan is capable of doing double duty.