FOOTBALL: Carson ends spring practice with scrimmage
Carson High School wrapped up its spring season Thursday afternoon with the annual 7-on-7 passing scrimmage.
“(The camp) went well,” said coach Blair Roman, who has guided the Senators to two straight regular-season titles. “We had good numbers. We probably had between 65 and 75 kids out there everyday (freshman, sophomores and juniors). It was about what I expected.
“The last couple of years we’ve had about the same number, maybe a few more this year.”
One player who didn’t participate is wingback Dylan Sawyers, who is expected to be 100 percent healthy when the season starts on Sept. 3 in Pocatello, Idaho. Sawyers suffered a hip injury, which caused him to miss several games. He has yet to be cleared medically.
Roman said he entered this spring with the same philosophy as last year – to lay a foundation for the summer camp. The Senators’ weight program starts July 5 and the first day of practice is Aug. 11.
Roman focused plenty of attention to defense and the passing game.
The defense part is critical. The Senators led the Sierra League two years ago in points allowed per game, and last year had one of the stingiest defenses in Northern 4A when the High Desert and Sierra leagues were combined.
“We spend quite a bit of time on learning defensive fundamentals,” said Roman, whose team lost cornerbacks Colby Blueberg and Gabe Pongasi along with linebacker Ty Collins, defensive end Jon Parker and linebacker Connor Beattie.
The biggest question marks entering the season are at quarterback, and the offensive and defensive lines.
Trey Jensen has graduated, leaving senior-to-be Chance Quilling and junior-to-be Matt Nolan as the top candidates under center. Garrett Schafer, a sophomore-to-be, figures to be the JV starter.
Roman said that Quilling, who backed up Jensen last season and started on defense at both safety and at linebacker, has the upper hand right now.
“Chance has established himself as the quarterback right now,” Roman said. “One thing I will say about Matt is that he’s a very good athlete. I’m confident he can fill the need not only at quarterback but other positions.”
One thing that helped Quilling is that he practiced all year with the varsity, and let’s face it, there is a big difference between JV and varsity in any sport.
“The biggest adjustment is the speed of the game,” Roman said. “Obviously Chance dealt with that last year at a much higher level. By the same token, his maturity has helped him. He has a lot of confidence.”
Roman said a year ago that Quilling was mainly a drop-back passer, but he’s since amended that thought.
“Chance can do it all,” Roman said. “He can throw and run. He can throw on the run, too. We’ll be able to do a lot with him.
“Matt is more in Trey’s mold. He’s a great athlete; played point guard on the basketball team. He’s a hard worker.”
Quilling went 15 for 21 for 162 yards and four scores in the 7-on-7 game. Nolan went 2-for-5 for 4 yards. Schafer went 10 for 20 for 82 yards and a score.
The offensive line lost Danny Gall, Matt Cooper, Dalton Simpson and Zach Hudacko from last year, and that’s huge. In the Senators’ scheme, you have to be strong, quick and smart.
Jake Meyers is the lone returning starter from last year. Star wrestler Nico Garcia is working out at guard and center. Justin Stevens, Aaron Spurlock, Jose Victor, sophomore-to-be Aaron Cowee, Cayze Velez, Jordan Woodward and Brayan Burgos figure in the mix on both the offensive and defensive line.
Brock Pradere returns at wide receiver, and he’ll be joined by Casey Wolfe and Skylar Guimont.
Cole Dufresne saw limited action last year at running back as did Jake McClelland. Kyle Hendee and Clint Page, both returnees, also will battle for playing time. Logan Krupp also is in the mix.
On defense, Carson lost linemen Caleb Jeffers, Parker, Darian Goldman and Mike Bolanos to name just a few.
“That’s where games are won and lost (on the defensive and offensive lines),” Roman said. “You lose a lot of real good seniors every year. It’s up to the returnees to step up. I feel like we have real good kids, but they are going to have to grow up real fast.
“There is going to be a ton of competition for spots, which is a good thing.”
McClelland, a junior-to-be, has been moved to defensive end from linebacker. Logan Peternell, who has played both middle linebacker and nose guard, will start the summer at middle linebacker. Peternell had 84 tackles, four sacks and one huge interception that saved the Douglas game last year.
“He (Peternell) looked great in spring,” Roman said. “He can make a big impact on the game.”
Two other first-year players to the program – seniors Patrick Cooke and 6-foot 240-pound Jeremy Vernon – have caught Roman’s eye. The 6-foot, 230-pound Cooke is a transfer from New Mexico. He participated on Carson’s track team this past spring.
“He (Cooke) is put together well,” Roman said. “We’re happy with what we’ve seen from him. Jeremy is very strong. We’re really pleased with him.”
Spurlock and Tommy Casarella, both of whom saw limited action a year ago, figure to compete for starting jobs on defense. Another returnee, Jordan Siembida, is making a push for a spot on the defensive front.
“He’s (Siembida) really improved,” Roman said. “Aaron also has improved from last year. I think he’ll play nose tackle.”
In the defensive backfield, Cole Dufresne, Clint Page, Austin Pacheco, Pradere and Guimont will battle for time. Sawyers also could see time there when he resumes workouts with the team. He had three interceptions in the first two games last season.
The kicking game is in good hands with Pacheco, who undoubtedly will handle field goals and do the punting. He was especially effective on kickoffs, often kicking the ball into the end zone.