Carson High a decided underdog at Damonte Ranch
It’s not a secret to anyone on the Carson High School football team who the favorite is Friday when the Senators head to Damonte Ranch for a 7 p.m. kick.
The Mustangs are 6-1 on the year and 2-0 in league play after thumping Wooster last week, 55-14.
Carson is coming off a 45-7 home loss to Bishop Manogue, which lost to the Mustangs 27-10 a week prior.
Similar opponents cast aside, head coach Blair Roman is ready for the Senators to hit the final stretch of the regular season, knowing the final three games will decide whether Carson makes the postseason.
“This game is important for us to keep improving and keep grinding away in a positive way for the kids because (we) end the season with teams that we have a chance to be very competitive with,” said Roman. “We’re trying to get the kids’ minds right about how we’ve got a chance to end the season on a really high note.”
This week, the Senators will have their hands full with a Damonte Ranch team that has both shown its offensive prowess and defensive tenacity.
When the Mustangs have the ball, the Senators are going to see a heavy helping of run-pass options designed to confuse defenses and take advantage of defenders out of position.
Damonte Ranch brings in the most prolific running back Carson will see this season in sophomore Ashton Hayes (No. 26), who has 1,405 rushing yards through seven games this season placing his average over 200 yards per game.
Hayes comes at a tough time for the Senators, who have lost another top tackler in Connor Lampert with a broken hand, according to Roman.
“We don’t know yet if he will be able to play with a cast, but it does not appear that way,” said Roman of Lampert.
With a six-week time table, Roman does not foresee the junior linebacker suiting up again the rest of the season.
Damonte Ranch also likes to throw two quarterbacks into the fold in Ethan Kulpin (No. 6) and Weston Smith (No. 7), both capable of throwing and running for yardage.
Kulpin, a junior, will likely get the starting nod having thrown 94 pass attempts so far this season, but Smith likely won’t be hidden on the sidelines as the freshman is 24-of-45 this season when he opts to pass.
“They run a scheme that fits them well,” said Roman. “Presenting pass-run conflicts for your defense is what they do. … No matter who is at quarterback, they’re going to do a lot of the same things.”
Defensively, Damonte Ranch has five of the top 10 tacklers in the Sierra League this season, including the top four.
Christian Jamison has proven to be everywhere this season, averaging 13.9 tackles per game.
The defense doesn’t just wrap up in the open field as the Mustangs also lead the Sierra League with 24 sacks this season an average of 3.5 per contest.
“They’re a bit unorthodox on defense, traditionally,” said Roman. “They like to bring pressure and they like to play a lot of man coverage.”
Along with missing Lampert, Carson will be banged up again this week after the injury bug continued to rear its head against Bishop Manogue last week.
Running back Bradley Maffei is day-to-day and will likely be a game-time decision for Roman and the Senators.
Carson will also be without starting right tackle, Randy Herrera, who missed action last week with a shoulder injury.
“We’re shuffling some guys around,” said Roman.
In order for Carson to make some noise Friday, avoiding injuries and finding red zone productivity will be crucial.