Carson football to take on Hawks |

Carson football to take on Hawks

Appeal Sports Writer

The Carson Senators haven’t beaten the Hug Hawks in 10 years and it doesn’t look like things will be any easier when the Senators meet the Hawks on the Hug High School gridiron today at 7:30 p.m.

Carson, who last beat Hug in 1997 (31-0), has not only lost its last eight games to the Hawks, but got the news that it has lost perhaps its best player – senior running back/cornerback Will Holbert – for the rest of the season with lateral compartment syndrome of his thigh (see sidebar).

Holbert suffered the injury in the third quarter of last week’s 14-7 victory over the Wooster Colts, which improved Carson to 2-1 in the Sierra League and 2-4 overall.

The Hawks, who beat the Senators 30-14 last year, are in a three-way tie for second place in the Sierra League and are 2-4 overall after its 26-25 victory over Damonte Ranch last week.

Reno is in first place, followed by Carson, Hug and Douglas – all of which have identical 2-1 league records.

“Meeting up with (the Hawks) has been a problem,” said Carson coach Shane Quilling. “They have great athletes. The last four or five years they have been so dominant on the offensive and defensive lines. They played for the state championship two years ago. They are a solid team. They’ve been tough for everybody to play the last four years. We haven’t been able to match them physically on the offensive line or defensive line.”

The Hawks are led by double-threat junior quarterback/free safety Michael “Duke” Williams, who has completed 22-of-62 passes for 392 yards and two touchdowns and has rushed for 247 yards and five touchdowns on 45 attempts. He has thrown one interception.

Williams’ primary target has been 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior wide receiver Courtney Gardner, who has 19 receptions for 301 yards. Gardner, who also doubles as a defensive back, has averaged 15.84 yards per reception and has caught both of Williams’ touchdown passes.

Quilling said the Hawks run out of the Power I formation and are led by sophomore David Knowles and junior Tonio Burton. Burton is seventh in the Northern 4A in rushing – 481 yards on 49 carries and five TDs – and Knowles is eighth with 447 yards on 80 attempts and three touchdowns.

Hug ranks third in team rushing, with 1,237 yards, behind Spanish Springs (1,289) and McQueen (1,261). Carson is fourth, with 1,230.

“They rushed for over 300 yards against Douglas and Damonte Ranch,” Quilling said of the Hawks. “Douglas beat them (32-28 two weeks ago) and Damonte Ranch almost beat them. Hopefully we can come out and be excited and do the things we need to do to score and need to do to win.”

Hug’s other win came against South Tahoe (20-0) and its other three losses have been against Galena (32-13), McQueen (45-6) and Clovis (Calif.) East (45-20).

In addition to the loss of Holbert, Carson will be missing another starting cornerback in junior Jake Madden, who suffered a concussion while making a tackle on the fourth play of the game against the Colts.

“Those are the last two people you want to lose to injuries,” Quilling said of Holbert and Madden. “Both are physical and come up to hit.”

Senior linebacker Philip Maier, who has been out with a neck injury, was due to return, but “kinked up his neck again” during this week’s practice and is doubtful, as is second-string quarterback Gabe Ramirez, who also re-injured his separated shoulder in practice.

Junior defensive end Danny Gould is also out this week with a broken finger, as is starting noseguard Aaron Jolcover (mononucleosis).

“We’re not going to worry about who we don’t have; it’s about who we do have,” Quilling said. “One door closes, one door opens up. It’s a chance for other kids to step in.”

After a much improved game against South Tahoe two weeks ago (a 28-21 win), Carson once again rivaled its opponent – Wooster last week – as its own worst enemy, committing an unofficial 10 penalties.

The Senators also got off to a slow start offensively and defensively against the Colts. Carson had only five first-quarter plays and was outgained on the ground in the first half 161-68.

Carson’s defense stepped up big in the second quarter when a quartet of defenders – including junior Jeff Butler and sophomore Erik Roberson – stopped the driving Colts on a fourth-and-goal on the 2-yard line to stay in the game.

Junior Blake Davidson recorded two sacks and Butler blocked a Wooster punt (recovered by Steve Fowzer), which subsequently led to a Holbert touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

Holbert had 91 yards and senior running back Chris McBroom, who has been playing with a torn ligament and torn muscle in his back, added 75 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

McBroom is the Senators’ second-leading rusher with 366 yards on 57 attempts. He also has four rushing touchdowns.

If Carson has had one consistent bright spot, it’s been its offensive line, led by left guard Daniel Faiella, left tackle Caleb Gradert, center Mitch Brantingham, Ernesto Cortez, Robert Higgins, Trent Simpson, Bryce Evans and tight ends Davidson and Nick Cutunilli, who have led the way to time-consuming drives even in a 44-12 loss to McQueen.

Senior quarterback Mitch Hammond has completed 28-of-57 passes for 303 yards and one touchdown (he has three interceptions) and is the team’s leading rusher with 383 yards on 107 carries with one TD.

Quilling said some teams have been able to move the ball against Hug, an encouraging sign since he will be using two sophomores in the backfield – Mark Sinnott and Maciek Kuroczka.

“If we can be more consistent offensively, we can move the ball against any team,” Quilling said. “We can score on anybody. It’s a great time for us to play four quarters of football – offensively and defensively. We need to figure it out. It’s a big game.”

Quilling also said he and his team wouldn’t mind a little help from Mother Nature. It is expected to snow in Reno tonight.

“We hope it’s a blizzard,” Quilling said. “We hope it snows, rains and is cold. Our kids don’t mind that. With the wind and cold here, it’s not a big deal for us. We’re going to have to play well to beat them. They’re a solid team. We’re capable. We just haven’t (played well) for four quarters yet.”