Little guy plays big role for Carson defensive unit |

Little guy plays big role for Carson defensive unit

Dave Price

Brad HornAlex Martinez, left, Andrew Rodriguez and Jeremy Gray, right, of Carson combine to stop Galena's Cole Gray.

At a glance, opposing offenses might be tempted to go outside or deep in an attempt to challenge the cornerback who wears No. 14 for the Carson High School football team.

Just a word of warning. Senior Andrew Rodriguez – all 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds of him – has made a pretty good impact for the Senators just two games into his first season as a varsity player.

“You look at him and you go, ‘He’s not a varsity player,’ just because he’s not a very big guy,” Carson coach Shane Quilling said of Rodriguez. “He’s not a physical or imposing guy. He’s just a quiet guy who does his job and doesn’t make mistakes.”

Rodriguez was solid enough last Friday to earn Carson’s defensive player of the game award after contributing five tackles and a deflection on pass defense in a 20-19 nonconference victory against Galena in Reno. He also had six tackles the week before for the Senators in their 26-0 loss against McQueen.

“He’s a great cover guy; he’s had a couple of drops on him, but really, he hasn’t been beat deep yet,” Quilling said. “And while he might not be a big guy, he will come up and hit you with everything he’s got. Hopefully, he keeps that up and plays well this weekend.”

The Senators (1-2) will need a big performance Friday night when they host Hug in the Sierra League opener for both teams. The Hug Hawks are traditionally explosive and this team is no different, especially with Isaac Porter in the backfield. Porter, who has placed in the 100-meter dash at the state track meet each of the last three years, has rushed for 597 yards (9.3-yard average) in three games for the 1-2 Hawks – including 321 yards in a 34-21 win over Tahoe-Truckee on Sept. 3.

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“This is a big game, one of the biggest, if we want to make the playoffs,” Rodriguez said. “It’s going to be a tough game. We’re going to have to fly to the ball because they’re big and fast. Everybody just has to do their job.”

The Senators will need to do more than just contain Porter if they want to slow down a Hug team that has put 74 points on the scoreboard in its three games.

“It’s not just Porter, they have guys everywhere who can score quick,” Quilling said. “They run the Power I and if you miss tackles, all three of those guys can hurt you. They run a great fullback trap and they run a great counter, so all three of them are dangerous if you don’t wrap up.”

Porter rushed for 114 yards in Hug’s come-from-behind 19-17 win over Carson last year in Reno, but the Hawks only managed to rush for 169 yards that night. Four turnovers, several costly penalties and an ill-fated fake punt attempt proved costly to the Senators, who saw a 17-7 lead slip away in the fourth quarter.

“The reason we did so well last year against them, we did a great job of getting 11 guys to the ball,” Quilling said. “We kind of used a comment off the TV over the weekend from college coaches and pro coaches talking – How do you stop good backs? You get 11 guys to the football, and that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got some guys who can run to the ball, we’ve just got to make plays.”

Rodriguez is certainly excited to have the opportunity to make plays at the varsity level. He’s paid his dues after starting as a cornerback at the JV level the last two years, and before that, player as a 5-2, 106-pound wide receiver on the freshman team.

“I’ve got heart, I’ve always heard that from the coaches, but I’m small so I have to play with heart,” Rodriguez said.

The step up to varsity has been a big one, but not surprising, if you ask Quilling.

“He’s not a surprise as far as what we expected he could do,” the coach said. “He might be a surprise to other people who look at him and think he’s too small to be a varsity football player.”

Contact Dave Price at or call 881-1220.