Carson looks to rebound against Elko
Appeal Sports Writer
Sometimes what a team does well gets obscured by a close loss and that’s what Carson Senators coach Shane Quilling believes was the case in last week’s 28-14 loss to Mojave in Las Vegas.
The game, which was closer than the score indicates, is one reason Quilling says the Senators are optimistic headed into tonight’s nonconference game in Elko against the Indians, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Carson held a 14-13 lead over Mojave last Friday with only 2 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the game when the Rattlers capped off an 11-play, 71-yard drive – followed by a 2-point conversion – to give them a 21-14 lead.
The Rattlers ended Carson’s comeback with a 40-yard interception for a touchdown off junior quarterback Mitch Hammond to seal the victory.
“At times (Hammond) did everything we wanted him to do,” Quilling said Thursday. “We had some mistakes earlier – a fumble on the (Rattlers’ 15) when we were going in to score. As a quarterback, he knows we’re going to do as well as he plays.”
Which, at times, was pretty good – especially when Hammond had a 62-yard run to the Rattlers’ 2-yard line. Hammond finished with 79 yards on six carries.
Quilling was also pleased with running back Travis Lamborn, who rushed for 61 yards on nine attempts.
“Our offensive line did really good,” Quilling said. “(Offensive guard) Jaimie Greene was our offensive player of the game. All of our players up front played real well. We had good pass protection – they only pressured Hammond two or three times.”
With the exception of the 71-yard drive that put Mojave in the driver’s seat, he said the Carson defense was strong as well.
“Except for a 30 to 35-yard drive and (the Rattlers) picking off a ball in the flat for a touchdown, the defense gave up only one drive in the game,” Quilling said. “Against an athletic team, our kids did a helluva job. They gave up 222 yards. That’s damn good. Last year they gave up (on the average) 248 yards, and I thought they did well.”
And Quilling said he wasn’t judging his team’s performance on numbers alone.
“Most of all what I’m proud of was they went hard in 98-degree heat,” Quilling said. “They played hard. We just didn’t execute offensively. We’re better than that. The kids know that. If we do that (execute), we’ve got a good shot to win.”
Carson will have a shot at evening up its record at 1-1 against Elko, which is coming off a tough 17-14 loss to its rival Spring Creek, of the Northern 3A.
The Indians, who have a new coach in Dan Chappuis and a new offensive line, played Carson tough last year before giving up a game-winning touchdown in the last minute to the Senators.
“It’s going to be a big test,” Quilling said. “Elko’s going to send five, six, seven people and try to take away our veer. Elko’s a physical team and they’re hard to run the ball against. They have two or three kids that do special things and they’re tough up the middle. They put nine in the box last year. We weren’t able to run the ball. We gotta get back downfield.
“We’re going to do some different things. We’re going to have to spread things out a bit and make them defend us.”
The Senators have been working on revamping their offense, which will serve as a supplement to its usual ground attack. If run properly, it will give Carson an option attack, something on which the offense – and especially Hammond – has been working hard.
“We ran the ball pretty well,” Quilling said of the ground game’s effectiveness against Mojave. “Lamborn averaged nearly seven yards a carry, (running back) Kyle Banko ran well, Mitch did what we wanted him to do (rushing). We just didn’t throw the ball as well as we wanted to. We expect all three to do well against Elko.”
As is the usual case there’s always the long drive to Elko, but Quilling said after trip to Las Vegas last week, he has no worries.
“It’s a little bit of a shorter trip,” he said. “We traveled well. We had a good time; we just didn’t win. We’ve had a great week (of practice). The kids are looking forward to going up there. They’re excited how we’re going to attack (Elko).”
Although he said his team is still a bit banged up, Quilling said he would dress 31 players, one more than last week against Mojave.
And this week against the Indians, Quilling is hoping how well his team does will be reflected on the scoreboard. There’s nothing wrong with having fun and winning the game.