Carson football can’t take South Tahoe lightly
Appeal Sports Writer
Following their 30-14 loss to North Valleys on Homecoming Night last Friday, the Carson Senators woke up on Saturday, saw the sun still rose in the sky and, just as important, their playoff hopes were still alive.
Best of all, Carson has its destiny in its own hands and doesn’t have to rely on mathematical possibilities.
With undefeated Douglas in control of the Sierra League and Carson already having lost to Hug and North Valleys, the Senators, 1-3 in league and 2-5 overall, must run the table in its three remaining games against South Tahoe, Wooster and Reno to make the postseason.
It’s a difficult but not an impossible task for Carson, which finished 2005 with a 4-6 record and missed the playoffs.
Reno, which beat Carson victim Damonte Ranch 6-0 last week (the Senators defeated the Mustangs 28-7 two weeks ago), must travel to North Valleys tonight before hosting Douglas next week and traveling to Carson to end its regular season.
“A loss to Douglas or North Valleys gives Reno two losses,” said Carson coach Shane Quilling, who added that head-to-head meetings are the first criteria considered when two teams finish with identical league records. “That would be huge. (Winning all three remaining games) would be a tough seed (No. 4), but you’re in (the playoffs).”
The Senators’ push begins Saturday at 1:30 p.m., when they meet the Vikings, 1-4 in league, 1-5 overall, in South Lake Tahoe.
South Tahoe picked up its first victory of the season with a 20-10 triumph over Wooster two weeks ago, but was savaged by Douglas, 75-7, last week.
“It’s a scary game,” Quilling said. “They beat us, 42-41, two years ago, but we’ve pretty much handled them since then. We can’t turn the ball over and we can’t give them a chance to beat us. We’ve got to get healthy offensively and move the ball.”
To that end Carson, which returned senior free safety Tony Roberts (concussion) and senior outside linebacker/running back Robbie Bozin (high ankle sprain) last week, will get back wide receiver Will Holbert and cornerback Ryan Eichenberger this week from injuries.
Holbert, a junior who has three touchdown receptions, dislocated his shoulder in practice two and a half weeks ago, and Eichenberger, a senior, suffered a fractured rib and punctured the lining of one lung during the 30-14 loss to Hug on Sept. 22.
Carson will be hoping the pair will come back as strongly as Bozin, who returned a fumble 61 yards for a touchdown, and Roberts, who recorded several bone-jarring tackles against the Panthers last week.
Down 15-14 with 5 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the game, Carson had the ball on its own 46 and victory in its sight. But the Senators were unable to get a first down on three plays, which included a dropped pass, and, following a punt, its defense fell apart late, allowing two touchdowns to fullback Tony Castellanos.
Castellanos finished with 135 yards on 20 carries for three touchdowns and do-it-all Archie Kovich torched the Senators with a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown, 161 yards on the ground and many more on punt and kickoff returns.
“Last week was a frustrating loss,” Quilling said. “We put ourselves in a position to win the game. I’m disappointed how it ended. It’s 15-14, then you look at the scoreboard and it’s 30-14.
“We went toe-to-toe with them except for the last four minutes of the game. That one hurt a little bit, especially when we gave (a touchdown) away in the first half. We had it inside the 10, but we didn’t get anything.”
Trailing 6-0 and with a second-and-9 from North Valleys’ 10, Carson was hit with a pair of penalties that pushed it back to the 20 and kicker Johnny Hazeltine subsequently missed a 33-yard field goal attempt.
“Like I said, we have a bunch of young kids,” Quilling said. “I hope they’re ready to come out this weekend and get a win. Our defense did a helluva job except for the last three minutes of the game.”
Quilling said his team is not looking past South Tahoe.
“They beat Wooster,” he said. “(The Vikings) are obviously down a little bit this year. But they’ve got to be looking at it like they’ve got one league win and will be looking for No. 2. They have a chance to win.
“They run a 4-4, 5-5, 3-4, 6-2 (defensive alignment). They run a lot of stuff. They’re athletic and have good size. They have a lot of athletes, but they’re only 24-25 deep. It’s one of those games where nothing scares me and everything scares me. That team has nothing to lose.”
Unlike Carson, which had to put in extra practice time because of the Saturday game.
“It’s a long week, but that’s the way it is,” said Quilling, whose team also has a Saturday game at Wooster next week. “We had Monday’s practice on Tuesday. We have to execute and do the things we’re capable of doing.”
Quilling said snow is forecasted for Saturday night, but not during the game.
“It doesn’t really matter,” Quilling said. “It can snow, rain, do whatever. We’ve done a lot of good things, but we’ve yet to have a breakout game where we score points. We did a good job against Damonte, but it seems like a long time ago and it’s only been two weeks.”
Quilling said he respects South Tahoe, but he’s more concerned about his own players’ performances.
“It’s not about them (the Vikings),” Quilling said. “It’s about us. It’s always about us. We need to get a good win and get ready to play Wooster next week.”
This week the Senators will wake up on Sunday knowing if their playoff hopes are still alive, or if they saw the sun set on them in South Tahoe.
Notes: Junior Mitch Hammond, who is also the Senators’ quarterback, was selected the team’s special teams’ player of the week. Senior wide receiver Richie Norgrove took the honors for the offense and junior defensive linemanDan Faiella took it for the defense.