Playoffs on the line for Carson
Appeal Sports Writer
Following a week of getting double-teamed by injuries and the flu bug, the Carson Senators football team will have a decidedly different look when it takes the field tonight against the Damonte Ranch Mustangs in a Sierra League battle to remain in the postseason hunt.
With starting quarterback Mitch Hammond likely out after suffering a concussion in the third quarter of last week’s 34-6 loss to the Hug Hawks, senior running back Chris McBroom will be under center tonight as the Senators, 2-2 in the Sierra League and 2-5 overall, look to push the Mustangs (1-3, 2-5) out of the playoff picture.
The Senators backfield, which also lost do-it-all athlete Will Holbert for the season due to lateral compartment syndrome of his thigh, will be filled by sophomore Mark Sinnott and junior Maciek Kuroczka, both of whom will be spelled by junior Robby Barlow and sophomore Erik Roberson.
Sinnott and Kuroczka will also play cornerback for the Senators, a spot formerly occupied by Holbert and junior Jake Madden, who suffered a concussion in Carson’s 14-7 victory over Wooster two weeks ago.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys out,” Carson coach Shane Quilling said. “We’ve had four or five guys gone every day (with the flu). We’ve had coaches miss two days. We lost a kid to food poisoning. It’s a gauntlet of stuff. Our tight end (Nick) Cutunilli is out with a hurt knee (suffered against Hug) – that’s enough. We’re buggered up.
“You know what, we just have to come out and play. With people out hurt and sick, it just gives other people an opportunity to come out and play.”
Sinnott, a 5-foot-5, 150-pound speedster, had his best game of the season against Hug, picking up 76 yards on 15 carries. Sinnott broke lose for runs of 18, 16, 12 and 11 yards in the fourth quarter against the Hawks.
McBroom led all Senators with 94 yards on 20 attempts.
“We moved the ball – we had 250 yards against a solid team,” Quilling said. “We had our opportunities to score in the first quarter. Mark Sinnott has got some good speed. It’s nice to see him turn the corner (and run). He had a heck of a week. He and Maciek are going to pick up the load for Chris.”
As for McBroom, who has a team-high 460 yards rushing on 77 attempts, he’ll make his first start at quarterback since he was a sophomore, when an injury forced him out halfway through the season and made room for Hammond to step up, also as a sophomore.
Junior Gabe Ramirez, who has been battling a separated shoulder, took over after Hammond was injured last week.
“Chris didn’t get any reps in at quarterback last week, so Gabe backed up Hammond,” Quilling said. “Chris got all of the reps and has done some good things this week. He runs the offense well. He knows when to pitch and when to keep it. He’s a little rusty throwing. He knows what we do. I’m sure he’s excited to be our starting quarterback. It’s an opportunity for him to step up and see if he can lead us to a victory.”
After giving up more than 340 total yards against the Hawks, including 247 yards rushing in three quarters to running back David Knowles, the Senators defense will be looking to tighten down against the Mustangs.
“We need to come out and do the things we’re capable of doing,” Quilling said. “Our emphasis this week has been getting out and playing physical. We have to play with intensity and enthusiasm. That’s something we didn’t do last week. As coaches, as players we have to perform at a higher level.”
Carson’s defense should get a boost if starting noseguard Aaron Jolcover is able to play. Jolcover missed three weeks with mononucleosis.
The Mustangs, who are coming off a 41-17 loss to Douglas, took the Hawks to the limit two weeks ago before losing 26-25. Their two victories have come against Elko (47-14) and Wooster (13-10).
Damonte Ranch’s defense is led by junior linebackers Tyler Turk, who has a team-high 41 total tackles, including 19 solo, and Chad Shryer (31 tackles, 16 solo). Senior defensive back Brock Frank has 19 tackles (17 solo) and two interceptions.
“They’ve played pretty damn well the last two games,” Quilling said of the Mustangs. “If they had any luck at all, they could’ve beaten Hug. They’re physical and run the ball well. They play a 6-2 goal-line defense. They put eight men in the box and say, ‘Hey, come after us.’ They play with confidence. They played Douglas really well for a half.”
Junior Ray Daniels has seen the majority of playing time at quarterback (along with Frank) and has completed 49-of-104 passes for 572 yards and six touchdowns. Daniels has also thrown three interceptions.
Senior running back Brian Walsh leads the team with 474 yards and five touchdowns rushing and has caught 15 passes for 138 yards and one other score. Senior Trey Edmunds has gained 308 yards rushing and senior wideout Matt Moyer (14 receptions for 131 yards and three TDs) and 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior tight end Kelton Hall (12 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns) are also threats offensively for the Mustangs.
“We want to make the playoffs,” Quilling said. “We have to get two (wins out of their three remaining games) for four wins. Douglas, Hug, North Valleys, us – you could have four teams with four wins. This game is huge. We have to go 3-2 in league.”
Quilling said injuries and sickness are not excuses to lose.
“The show has to go on,” he said. “We’ve had a great week of practice. We’re looking forward to playing.”
Kickoff is 7:30 tonight at Carson High School.