Carson football looking to get in playoff hunt vs. Wooster
BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
Carson Senators junior kick returner Robert Figuerora had waited since he was in Pop Warner for a moment like the one he experienced in Friday’s game against the Bishop Manogue Miners.
“I kept telling myself it would be my very first one,” Figuerora said of his 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Miners. “I found my hole, put my head down after I broke away from the last guy and I went as hard as I could.”
Arguably the second-fastest player on the team behind tailback Mark Sinnott, the 17-year-old Figuerora gave his team a 13-6 second-quarter lead over Manogue with the return. The Miners would eventually rally for a 27-13 victory.
“The kids in the first row made a block and the second blocking line opened it up for me,” said Figuerora, who also shares time with Steven Fowzer at cornerback when he’s not returning kicks or punts. “Luke Carter, Erik Roberson, Steven Carrera and Levi (Bloxton) put up a good wall.”
Not only did Figuerora’s dash for the end zone get the Miners attention, it also caught the eye of first-year Carson head coach Blair Roman.
“He’s really been coming on strong for us,” Roman said of Figuerora. “I’ve always felt he had the physical ability to be a threat. He’s got good speed. He’s got ability and he’s shown so far he’s fearless, which is half the battle when you talk about kick returners. You’ve got 10 guys looking to knock your head off.”
Against the Wooster Colts on Saturday, Figuerora and the rest of the Senators will be looking to finish what they started against the first-place Miners.
Carson, now 1-1 in the Sierra League and 1-4 overall, will look to establish some momentum in what it hopes is a run to the postseason when it travels to Wooster High School to face the Colts, who are 0-2 and 1-4, after suffering a 27-7 loss to South Tahoe last week.
Roman, who was visibly emotional following the tough loss, said his team will extract the positives from the contest.
“In the final analysis of the (Manogue) game, it’s good to see us step up and play well against a well-respected team,” Roman said. “At the same time we had our chances to come out on top, but we weren’t able to.”
Roman said the Senators’ focus this week in practice has been on the strengths of their offense and defense as it prepares for the Colts, whose only victory this season came against Class 3A Lowry.
“I feel pretty confident in our ability to throw the ball the last game and a half,” Roman said of what he viewed to be one his team’s strong suits. “To balance that off, our offensive line has really developed. I’m pleased with the progress.
“We showed the ability to run the football well at times. When we establish balance, we’ll keep other teams off balance. I hope to see that on Saturday.”
Carson gained 197 yards against Manogue, not including what it added on a good night by Figuerora and the special teams.
The Senators defense held Manogue to 54 yards in the first quarter. The Miners finished with 307 yards offensively.
“Defensively we have progressed every week since Reed (in Week 3),” Roman said. “We’ve had better tackling. Fundamentally, we’ve always been there, but the team is a lot more confident in what they are able to do.”
The Carson ‘D’ will need to carry that confidence into Saturday’s game against the Colts. In Ron Ahonima (5-foot-9, 250 pounds) and Dwayne Johnny (5-8, 240), Wooster boasts a heavy load in its backfield.
At 6-2, 175 pounds, wide receiver Anthonie Wright also gives quarterbacks Hayden McSwiggen and Mike Sitton a big target out wide.
“They like to roll out and get the quarterback out of the pocket,” Roman said of the Colts offense. “They have nice no-back formations. We have to be ready.”
Defensively, Wooster is similar to South Tahoe, which runs a four- and five-man front.
“They have a couple of linebackers that are very active and are tough kids,” Roman said. “We have to focus on finishing blocks.”
The Senators will figure on being a bit healthier overall this week as Sinnott and Maciek Kuroczka, both of whom missed the game against the Miners, return. Sinnott was out with the flu and Kuroczka had been out with a shoulder injury.
Carson will be without running back Erik Roberson, however. Roberson needed 13 stitches after leaving in the third quarter against the Miners.
“The film showed it was a good, clean hit,” Roman said of what at first appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet hit. “It was a situation where he got a bad break. His helmet popped off and when he hit the ground, he fell on it and it opened a gash on his head. He popped right up, but went down after he got dizzy. He’s been feeling better the last couple of days.”
In retrospect, Roman said he was happy how his team competed in a hard-hitting contest with Manogue, but that it has been focused in on the Colts this week.
“It’s the same way we approached the Manogue and South Tahoe games,” Roman said. “It’s a league game. Our goal is to earn the right to qualify for the playoffs with the highest seed possible.
“We’re not going to be able to achieve that goal if we don’t win Saturday’s and other games. Every week in league, we have to be ready to get out there and go.”
Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.
NOTES: Carson has won its last seven meetings against the Colts after snapping Wooster’s 24-game winning streak in 2001. The Senators beat the Colts last year, 14-7.
DOUGLAS AT DAMONTE RANCH
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Damonte Ranch
Players to watch: Douglas ” RB Johnny Pollack, QB Tim Rudnick, WR Zach McFadden, WR James McLaughlin, OL Garrett Tenney, OL Nick Mortenson, DB Nico Barker. Damonte Ranch ” QB Ray Daniels, WR Kyle Brush.
The skinny: Both teams are coming off wins. Douglas, behind Pollack’s 221 yards rushing and Rudnick’s 253 yards passing, beat Galena 42-21. Damonte Ranch kept playoff hopes alive with a 29-13 win over Fallon. This should be a decisive win for the Tigers. The Mustangs barely edged Galena, the same team Douglas beat by three touchdowns. Douglas’ high-powered offense has been held in check only once this season.
DAYTON AT TRUCKEE
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Truckee High School
Players to watch: Dayton ” RB Conner Oliver, RB/LB Nick Bircheff, OL/DL Mitch Gilgert, WR/DB Ryan Tookey. Truckee ” QB Justin Vosburgh, LB Ryan Macken, OL/DL Dylan Crosby, WR/DB C.J. Ackerman, FB Robert Raber.
The skinny: Dayton is coming off what turned out to be a bye week when Yerington canceled its season because of a multitude of injuries. Whether the extra week helped Dayton or not remains to be seen. Truckee is coming off a big win over Fernley, the only team many felt could compete with Truckee. The Dust Devils will need to control the ball and keep the Wolverines’ offense off the field.
GALENA AT FALLON
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Where: Fallon High School
Players to watch: Galena ” RB Jarrod Faust, QB Beau Bickel, TE Luke Hess, LB Taylor Tatro. Fallon ” OL Anthony Tisdale, DL Remy Fabel, QB Dexter Daum, WR Trent de Braga.
The skinny: Both teams are coming off losses. Fallon lost 29-13 to Damonte Ranch while Galena lost 42-21 to Douglas. The key for the Grizzlies is how well they hold up against the run. That has been their Achilles’ heel all season. This is a must win for both teams in terms of staying in the playoff hunt.
– Capsules compiled by Darrell Moody