Carson football needs help and a win
Appeal Sports Writer
Even though the Douglas Tigers are its arch-rival, the Carson football team will turn into the Tigers’ biggest fans tonight, when undefeated Douglas, the undefeated Sierra League leader, will hit the road to face the Reno Huskies.
If the Tigers, 5-0 in the Sierra League and 6-2 overall, can pull off a win, it will hand the Huskies (4-1, 6-1 overall) a second league loss headed into Thursday’s Carson-Reno regular season finale at Carson High School.
On the other hand, a Douglas loss would end the playoff aspirations of the Senators, who improved to 2-3 in league (3-5 overall) with a 20-12 win over South Tahoe on Saturday. A Tigers win over the Huskies – and a Carson victory over the Wooster Colts on Saturday – would put the Senators’ fate in their own hands.
If Douglas beats Reno and Carson wins its final two games, the Senators would make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Carson finished 4-6 last season and missed the postseason.
“We’ll know our fate before we meet Wooster,” Carson coach Shane Quilling said Wednesday after crunching game film. “Hopefully Douglas will help us out. The bottom line is we have to play better offensively. (Against South Tahoe) we didn’t do the things we have to do.
“The defense did well and held them to 150 yards. (The Vikings) had only one 50-plus yard pass play. We did what we wanted to do defensively.”
Carson dominated the first half against the Vikings, holding them to 10 yards on 13 carries and nine yards passing.
Carson’s first half went well offensively as running back Travis Lamborn rushed for 111 yards and had a 48-yard touchdown run, while quarterback Mitch Hammond went 5-for-9 for 94 yards and tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Will Holbert for a 14-0 first-half lead.
Overall, on the plus side, Lamborn finished with 174 yards on 25 carries and Holbert, who caught four balls for 93 yards (including a 54-yard reception), was able to make a strong return after missing several weeks with a dislocated shoulder he suffered in a practice.
On the negative side, the Vikings (1-5 in league, 1-6 overall) were able to outscore the Senators, 12-6, in the second half. After its defense forced a fumble, South Tahoe quarterback Anthony Stagnaro tossed a 27-yard TD to Kevin Lucero to close the score to 20-12, with 1 minute, 49 seconds to go.
Although it held the Senators to a three-and-out, South Tahoe had only 9 seconds to cover 87 yards and get a touchdown and 2-point conversion to tie the game, but couldn’t get past its own 30 as the clock expired.
Quilling said the Vikings were also able to get to Hammond more than he would’ve liked.
“We didn’t protect our quarterback,” said Quilling of Hammond, who was sacked five times. “He got rattled. Too many times he stepped out of the pocket. He threw 14 times, tried to run 10 or 12 times, and ran into sacks five times. He needed to take three or four steps up in the pocket and throw the ball. It’s not just our quarterback’s fault, it’s everybody’s fault.”
Carson will have a shot to address all of its shortcomings against the winless Colts (0-5 in league, 0-8 overall) at Wooster.
“It’s almost exactly like last weekend,” Quilling said of meeting the Colts. “Wooster should’ve beaten South Tahoe (Wooster lost to the Vikings, 20-10, on Sept. 30). They had five turnovers against South Tahoe.
“The scary thing is Wooster hasn’t won a game. They usually play people tough for one or two quarters and run out of gas. Against South Tahoe, they gave the game away. Like last week, everything scares the hell out of me and nothing scares the hell out of me.”
Quilling is hoping that good scouting will play dividends, as it did in the Senators’ 28-7 victory over Damonte Ranch on Sept. 29.
“In the past, we’ve been able to line up well against them,” Quilling said of the Colts. “Against (Wooster coach Chris Wells), we’ve been able to run the ball consistently the last three, four years. They have nothing to lose. We have everything to lose.”
Quilling said the Colts present several problems.
“They’re big up front,” he said. “Their linebackers run to the ball well. They stunt a lot. We had trouble last week picking up stunts. Against Damonte (a 44-14 loss), they did pretty well. It was a lot closer than the scored indicated.
“They bring a four-front, a five-front, a Cover 3, a Cover 1, they have good size up front. The big thing we’ve been working on this week is the blitz pickup. If you watch film of last weekend, you’d be crazy not to stunt. We have to do a better job of protecting our quarterback.”
Quilling said he hopes the offensive line and Hammond will establish more of a pocket presence this week and be able to throw the ball. He also praised the job of his defense, which has allowed 155 points in eight games.
“We have a shot to give up the fewest points we have in years,” Quilling said. “Giving up yards doesn’t mean anything. It’s how many points you give up. Our goal offensively each week is to score three touchdowns. We don’t always do that. We have two weeks to do that.
“(Against the Vikings) we had seven, eight guys with identical stats (three tackles, two assists each). Six, seven guys are doing a good job getting to the football.”
Quilling said his team is pretty much where he expected it to be at the beginning of the year and could just as easily have been 5-2.
“We coulda, shouda, woulda,” Quilling said. “We should’ve beat Mojave (a 28-14 loss). We had Douglas (a 19-12 loss) right there. We almost had North Valleys (before the Panthers pulled away with two late scores and a 30-14 win). We’re right where we thought we’d be. We need to get our fourth win and have a shot at making the playoffs.
“We have to take care of business this week. If Douglas wins, we’re right where we thought we’d be.”
Quilling said he thinks Douglas could be the team to beat this year.
“Douglas is in the driver’s seat,” Quilling said. “Nobody’s great this year. (The Tigers) have a good shot at taking care of things in the North this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Douglas-Reed (in the regional championship game). I hope Douglas keeps it going this week.”
Carson-Wooster will begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Wooster High School.
Notes: Lamborn was named the Senators’ offensive player of the week. Junior noseguard Aaron Jolcover took the honors for the defense and junior Brian Halverson was named the special teams’ player of the week.