Carson football travels to Spanish Springs
Appeal Sports Writer
When the Carson Senators and the Spanish Springs Cougars meet on the gridiron today at 7 p.m. at Spanish Springs High School, history should play a large role, both in the event itself and how the game will be played.
On the first count, this will be the first ever meeting between Carson, of the Sierra League, and Spanish Springs, of the High Desert League.
While the Senators will be looking to score their first win of the season after falling in their season-opener to Mojave, 19-14, last week, the Cougars, who lost, 15-12, to North Valleys on Friday, will be trying to end an 11-game losing streak after going 0-10 last season.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Carson coach Shane Quilling said Thursday. “One thing about playing here (in the Sierra League), it seems like we’re always playing someone like McQueen, Elko, Reed, Manogue, Reed and Galena. It’s the first time we will have played Spanish Springs and we’ll do it again next year. It will be nice. I’m looking forward to it.”
History will also most likely play a part in what the Senators can expect from the Cougars, who, in the last several years, have gotten by almost exclusively on the run.
In fact, Carson’s game against Mojave, which passed only six times (all completions and for one touchdown) and ran the ball 42 times for 185 yards, may have been a preview of the kind of game the Senators can expect from coach Scott Hare’s Cougars.
“They totally dominated North Valleys, but lost,” Quilling said of the Cougars’ offense. “They threw a pick and lost 15-12. He (Hare) felt a lot worse than I did. They dominated (the Panthers). They went up and down the field the whole night.”
Quilling said the Cougars still run the ball most of the time – usually from a wing-T, but also from the fly, where the receiver in motion runs behind the quarterback and in between the running backs, leaving him in position to carry the ball, run a reverse, block or go for a pass.
“I haven’t seen that since the early 90s,” Quilling said of the offensive twist. “Not too many people run it. The wing-T offers a lot of motion and misdirection. We have to play assignment football. When they run the wing sweep, we have to execute against it like we did against Mojave (which also ran the wing-T).”
Carson held a 14-13 lead against the Rattlers late in the third quarter and for the most part its defense held its own, with the exception of a couple of gaffes and allowing a time-consuming drive late in the game that essentially enabled the Rattlers to escape with a win.
“I was very happy with our defense,” Quilling said. “We had a couple of breakdowns – two plays that cost us two touchdowns. We have to eliminate costly mistakes, but overall we did a great job. If we eliminate critical errors, we’ll be fine.”
Against Mojave, Senators senior quarterback Mitch Hammond had one of those costly mistake in the first quarter, throwing an interception in his own backfield to linebacker Marcus Carter, who returned the ball 36 yards for a TD to give the Rattlers a 7-0 lead.
Hammond, who picked up 39 yards on the ground, completed 4-of-10 passes for 106 yards, but three of his passes were dropped by Carson receivers and contributed to the Senators’ low score.
“We have to start executing offensively and pass blocking,” Quilling said. “We had three big drops, all for first downs and big plays. We have to establish our own game and give our quarterback time to throw. Then our quarterback has to make good decisions.”
The Senators ran the ball 35 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Hyperkinetic senior running back/wide receiver Will Holbert scored both times – from 2 and 20 yards out.
Quilling said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Holbert, who had been struggling with a hamstring injury, was able to go full speed this week in practice.
“Holbert is athletic as hell,” Quilling said. “He can cut on a dime and play anywhere on the field. We have to get him the ball.”
Senior running back Chris McBroom gained a team-high 52 yards on 10 carries for Carson. Quilling said Holbert and McBroom would also share some playing time in the backfield with speedy sophomore Mark Sinnott, who is 5-5, 150 pounds.
“Mark Sinnott will have to step up,” Quilling said. “We’ll be increasing his reps. He’s the fastest kid on the team. He’s the fastest in the 40 by half a tenth (of a second). With those two guys (Sinnott and Holbert) in the backfield, it will be fun.
“Hopefully the O-line can play better. We did a decent job running the ball. We hope to get 200 yards (rushing) and throw for 150 yards a game every week.”
While no statistics were available on Spanish Springs’ pass yardage against the Panthers, its 57-man roster – replete with 12 running backs and a senior quarterback in Robbie Hanna – could present a problem for Carson, which has less than 40 players and will have to stay fresh to stay in the game.
The Senators will be missing junior wide receiver Jake Madden (broken hand) and sophomore running back Erik Roberson (knee).
Quilling also said the Cougars’ 11-game winless streak is misleading.
“I talked to (Hare) in the summer when his guys went up to the Gold Beach (Ore.) camp,” Quilling said. “I know they’re a lot better this year. After watching film last week, you could see they were able to move the ball against North Valleys. They scored twice and could’ve scored two more times.
“They run the ball and lull you to sleep. Before they only threw a couple times a game. It’s a good matchup. They haven’t won a game in two years and they’re hungry. They gave a game away as players and coaches and we did too. We let one slip away. We’ve got to come out and get a win and get us ready for McQueen (next week). We don’t care if it’s ugly. It’s not about what Spanish Springs does, it’s about us.”