PREP: Roman has Carson program on the rise
For the second consecutive season, the Carson High football season ended a little sooner than coach Blair Roman would have liked.
A year ago, Carson won the Sierra League and then reached the regional semifinals before losing in overtime to Galena en route to a 9-3 record. This year, Carson tied with Reed and McQueen for the 4A regular-season title and then made it all the way to the regional finals before losing 34-14 last week against McQueen in posting a 10-2 record.
Roman has the program headed in the right direction as the 19-5 record in two years would indicate. The 10 wins are a school record, and that’s something Roman and the whole program can hang their hats on.
“I told the seniors after the game that obviously I was very disappointed in the outcome,” Roman said. “I told them to take a look at their (varsity) careers, and 19 wins in two years is pretty special.
“As far as I know, that (19 wins in two years) has never been done before in Carson history. I think in 1997 and 1998 when coach (Bob) Bateman was the head coach I think they won 15 games.”
Carson ranked third in points average per game in the Northern 4A, averaging 29 a contest and the Senators had the second-stingiest defense behind McQueen. Until the regional final, the Senators were allowing just 14 points a contest and that ended up at 16.1 a game.
“We were very strong in some areas, but we also had some weaknesses,” Roman said. “One of our weak areas is that teams could line up in double tight end formations and play smashmouth football and we had a hard time handling that.”
Roman was referring to Douglas, Spanish Springs in the playoff game and of course, McQueen.
Carson gave up a lot of yards in many of the games, but somehow, some way, found a way to get a stop or outscore a team and win the game.
“We won two of the three games where are weakness was exposed,” Roman said. “It showed the character the team has.”
The Senators’ ‘bend don’t break’ philosophy became the team’s rallying cry.
“The kids played hard, and they always had confidence that somebody would step up and make a play,” Roman said.
Unfortunately, the Senators broke in that last game, especially at the outset of the second half when McQueen drove the ball 68 yards against the wind to take a 29-14 lead late in the third quarter. The Senators just couldn’t get that much-needed stop and get off the field.
“Coach (Jim) Franz was under a lot of pressure replacing coach Bateman,” Roman said. “We had a fats defense and a good tackling defense.”
Carson will lose some talented seniors such as Danny Gall, Matt Cooper, Colby Blueberg, Trey Jensen, Chris Steele, Gabe Pongasi, Tyler Collins, Zach Hudacko, Darian Goldman, Jon Parker, Caleb Jeffers, Bryce Altus and Dalton Simpson.
“Obviously we’re losing a good senior class, but we lost a good senior class the year before,” Roman said. “In high school football, it’s up to the next senior class to carry it on. That’s the way De La Salle succeeds, the way Douglas succeeds and the way McQueen succeeds.
“I’m excited about next year’s senior class.”
Heading that list is Dylan Sawyers, who led the team with more than 1,300 yards rushing and 14 scores, and he also led the team in receptions with 28 for 265 yards and two more scores. He also intercepted two passes in the early stages of the season before suffering a hip injury which kept him out of four straight games.
Also returning are No. 2 quarterback-safety Chance Quilling, who led the team with 110 tackles and had two interceptions; two-way lineman Logan Peternell (72 tackles); kicker-linebacker-wingback Austin Pacheco, who kicked 10 field goals, averaged more than 40 yards per punt, caught 15 passes and also had 56 tackles despite not getting a lot of snaps at linebacker until midway through the season. Wide receiver Brock Pradere, who caught four passes this year, and running backs Cole Dufresne and offensive guard Jake Myers.
On the offensive front, Myers and Peternell are the only starters coming back, and both figure to handle the guard spots.
Roman said it will be up to the juniors who didn’t get a lot of playing time this year, and possibly a couple of sophomores to get stronger and get better and to step into starting roles on the offensive line.
It will be interesting to see what develops at quarterback. Quilling has a big arm, but he’s also a standout on defense, and Roman doesn’t like his quarterbacks to play defense for obvious reasons. Matt Nolan, last year’s starter on the JV team, and Garrett Schaffer will compete for snaps.
Quilling and Schaffer are more drop-back type throwers, while Nolan is more of a roll-out threat like Jensen was this year. It certainly will be Quilling’s job to lose when spring ball opens.
On defense, Carson will return four starters, which is about what they returned this year. Roman’s task will be to build depth and competition on both sides of the ball.
Another reason for the success of the Carson program is the fact that Roman has a ton of on-campus help in Steve Dilley, Bob Bateman, Shane Quilling, Franz and Pat Houlihan. Kiko Vega, who works with the quarterbacks, and Jim deArrietta, who handles the kickers, are both off-campus.
“It’s huge,” Roman said. “You get to know your kids and you are able to deal with issues; football related and non-football. We’re able to talk throughout the day. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Roman said he was asked whether he was coming back next season. Fair question when you consider he has three young children.
“Some of them knew I was sick last week,” Roman said. “They would have to take me out of here in a box.
“I take it year-by-year, but I tell you I’m very excited about next year’s senior class.”