Carson looks to avoid injury bug
In some ways, the 2016 football season was a bitter one to swallow for the Carson Senators.
After posting a 28-8 record over the previous three seasons, Carson made the playoffs, but stumbled to a 5-5 record, including three straight defeats to end the season.
Carson head coach Blair Roman isn’t one to make excuses, and he knows injuries are part of the game. The injury bug hit the Senators in a big way.
“A lot of factors outside our control that didn’t help us,” Roman said earlier this week. “The first was losing (running back) Greg Wallace to a knee injury, and then we lost Jace Keema (quarterback). The injury bug got us bad last year.
“Last year for me was a success because even though the odds were against us, the attitudes of the players was awesome and their effort never deteriorated. As a coach, you can’t ask for more.”
The Senators, who were 5-2 before their late-season slide, do return star running back-linebacker Abel Carter, arguably the best two-way player in Northern Nevada. Carter gained 1,887 yards and scored 24 rushing touchdowns a year ago.
One of the biggest question marks is to find a running back who can take a little pressure off Carter.
“Everybody knows about Abel (Carter). We need to find somebody who can compliment him at running back so teams can’t key on him,” Roman said. “At the top of that list is Kyle Rudy, Zach Glanzmann, Tucker Nichols and maybe Bradley Maffei (the only sophomore on the team).
“He looks leaner than last year and quicker. He is quicker and stronger.”
The 5-foot-7 150-pound Rudy is the only one in the group to see any varsity action last year. He gained 89 yards on 15 carries with one score, and he also caught a 22-yard TD pass.
Carter said he would love the help, but feels he is also up to the challenge.
“I’ve been working hard,” Carter said. “I’m ready for it. I’ve grown as a back. I’m not worried. I’m ready for the challenge. It’s kind of cool. It’s a compliment (when you know teams are keying on you). They have to do what they have to do.
“It’s very important (to get some help offensively). If somebody has a couple of big games it gets eyes on them and not on me.”
Three seniors anchor the offensive line — center Ben Macias (6-0, 230) and tackles Dallin Shaffer (5-9, 220) and Blaise Bonomo (6-2, 260). Right now, the guards are junior Carl Cavner (5-10, 270) and junior Clayton Greene (6-1, 315). James Purdy (5-9, 180) is pushing Greene for playing time.
“We have pretty decent size,” Roman said. “Greene is the biggest lineman I’ve ever had; ever coached. We’ve always relied on schemes where we rely on our quickness. Clayton and Carl are north-south guys. It requires slight adjustments. I’m happy with the progress of the seniors.
“Purdy is your typical Carson guard. He is quick and strong. We have four or five other kids led by Garrett Clampitt that are developing now.”
The next biggest question mark is at quarterback. After Keema was injured in the Bishop Manogue game, Daniel Morrison took over. Morrison struggled down the stretch, throwing one TD pass but getting intercepted five times.
According to Roman, Morrison has made some big strides in the spring and summer. Ditto for junior Blake Menzel, who started on the JV team last year. Both are unproven, however. Morrison is being pushed hard by Menzel.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been in that mode,” Roman said. “I feel like both are ready to take teh mantle. I’m very happy with both.”
The wide receiver position is also up for grabs. Last year’s starter Luke Myers graduated, and he got the lion’s share of reps in the practice.
“Right now it’s by committee,” Roman said. “We have Terin Keller, Tanner Kalicki can play out there, Ben Granados from the track team and Lucas Van Brow. He hurt his knee last year and didn’t play. We will see who steps up.”
On defense, Carson struggled at times, and its turnover ratio was a minus-3. Not a good stat.
Carter and fellow linebacker Dawson Lamb lead the defense. Carter had 70 tackles last year and ran back two interceptions for scores in the season-opener against Desert Mountain. Lamb finished with 49 tackles a year ago.
Seniors Vinnie Hershman, Richie Romero and Dawson Breuer are also in the mix at linebacker. Hershman shifted over from defensive end in part to be able to give Carter an occasional breather.
“We have a lot of depth at linebacker,” Roman said. “We have five senior linebackers. Breuer has impressed so far.”
Chandler Tierney is expected to anchor the inside defense with Jon Acosta. Tierney, a junior, played a lot of snaps as a sophomore. Liam Desormier and Jesse Case are the defensive ends. Both saw limited action from scrimmage last year. Case played well on special teams. Senior Ty Evans also is in the mix on the line.
“Acosta is a running back in a defensive lineman’s body,” Roman said. “I’m very impressed. Jesse has gained weight and looks good. We can move Blaise in there once in a while on defense.”
Kyle Glanzmann, who grew five inches and gained 20 pounds last year, starts at one corner. The other cornerback spot is up for grabs between Rudy, Sherman Smith and Kalicki. Nichols will battle for snaps there, too. Darryll Heyward, Zach Glanzmann, Maffei and Chance Smith are the safeties.
“Kyle has added strength and confidence,” Roman said. “Rudy looks solid, Heyward is an outstanding athlete. He is quick and has a great vertical. The whole crew has a chance to be impressive as a unit.”
Acosta handles the punting and Kalicki the place-kicking.
“Jon has a heck of a leg,” Roman said. “Coach D (Jim deArrieta) has done a great job with him. Kalicki’s leg is almost as strong as Austin’s (Pacheco). He kicked a 55-yarder this summer, and his kick-offs are getting to the back of the end zone.”