Barahona, Gagnon are something special
Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series on Carson High football. Today the Appeal takes a look at special teams.
When you talk about specialists, Carson High’s 1-2 punch of placekicker Johnny Barahona and Brandon Gagnon don’t take a back seat to anybody in northern Nevada.
The 5-foot-8 Barahona went 7-for-10 on field goals and averaged 53 yards per kickoff with 21 touchbacks in 83 attempts last season, and Gagnon averaged 37 yards a punt en route to honorable mention honors.
Barahona is a weapon with 50-yard potential, which is something you rarely see at the high school level. His longest field goal last year was 42 yards.
“I think this is going to be Johnny’s year,” Carson coach Blair Roman. “He has worked really hard the last three years with coach (Jim) deArrieta. Between 40 and 45 yards, he is a weapon. I have all the confidence in the world in him.
“He has a great attitude for sure. The kids can count on him, and I think he has a lot of respect from his teammates.”
Barahona’s best game last season was against Galena when he booted field goals from 20, 29 and 32 yards in Carson’s 51-21 victory, which clinched the league title.
“If needed 50 and in,” Barahona said when asked about his range. “I prefer (and more confident) kicking 40 and in early in the season, and then expanding the distance as the season goes on.
“On kick-offs, I’d prefer to try to put the ball through the end zone. There were times last year where coach (Vic) Castro (special teams coach) wanted me to put it inside the 10 and on the left or right hash depending on who we were playing and how they had their return set up.”
Barahona said he’s gotten stronger, and a lot of that has to do with track. He ran everything from the 100 to the 400 last season, and also ran relay events.
“I think track helped a lot because we do a lot of stretching,” Barahona said. “I hurt my back a while back, but it’s OK now. I did some leg presses (over the summer), but not a whole lot because I was afraid I would hurt my back.”
Gagnon worked extremely hard with deArrieta over the summer, rarely taking a day off.
“Most of the time I would come down and kick in the morning,” Gagnon said. “Last year I started out pretty nervous. I did better as the season progressed. Hopefully I can be more consistent.
“I had a couple of bad kicks; shanked kicks that ruined my average. I think I can be between 40 and 45 yards. There is no way I shouldn’t be that high. I’ve been working on my leg strength.”
Gagnon’s goal is to lead the league in punting (average, not attempts), and Roman and deArrieta believe that’s possible. His longest kick last year was 56 yards. If he’s injured, Barahona could step in. Barahona averaged a respectable 37.7 a kick in the only game he punted in last year
“He is a lot more confident,” said Roman about Gagnon. “He has worked extremely hard with coach deArrieta.”
“He is dedicated and wants to get better,” deArrieta said.
Most of Gagnon’s recent work has been on technique, which certainly can add distance to a kick. Carson’s No. 1 snapper Adam Domitrovich has graduated, and the job belongs to Jake Roman, who did an admirable job filling in when Domitrovich was injured last season. Backing up Roman is Gabe Gabica, a junior.