CHS defense looks to continue stingy ways
When most people think about Carson High football, the Senators’ offense usually comes to mind.
The kudos are well deserved on that side of the ball, but Carson High’s defense has been tough in its own right.
Carson enters the season-opener Saturday (6 p.m. at CHS) against Desert Mountain-Scottsdale coming off a 10-2 season and with a defense that returns starters Justin Tschetter, Spencer Rogers, Sheldon Miller and Abel Carter.
Except for the two losses to Reed (44-27 and 56-28), the Senators’ defense was pretty stingy, allowing just 13.9 points a contest in the other 10 games, all wins. Seven times Carson held opponents to 14 points or less, including a 58-0 win over Hug.
Carson High head coach Blair Roman’s biggest job is replacing safety Asa Carter, cornerback Caulin Bartley, Jace Keema (starting QB this year and likely to play just offense), linebacker Ikela Lewis, defensive linemen Connor Sievers and Jacob Drahos.
The unit has already taken a hit with the injury to two-way starter Greg Wallace, who had 12 tackles in limited work on the defensive side of the ball.
Miller, who had 40 tackles a year ago, and junior Blaise Bonomo, a late-season call-up, are the starters at defensive tackle. Sophomore Chandler Tierney, junior Dallon Shaffer and junior Brandon Macias are the top back-ups.
“Sheldon is a force,” Roman said. “He’s going to have to play both ways this season. Blaise has looked real good. He has good size and athleticism, and he could also play outside if we needed him there. He is going to concentrate mostly on defense.”
At defensive end, the Senators have seniors Josh Thompson and Nick Andreas, and juniors Vincent Hershman and Liam Desormier. Thompson missed last season with a knee injury, and Andreas had nagging injuries.
“We are trying to develop depth here,” Roman said. “We may want to move Nick inside. He is a terror there. He is so fast off the ball. Josh is a strong run defender.”
Tschetter, who had 93 tackles, three sacks and one caused fumble, anchors the linebacking corp from his outside spot. The other starters are senior Jordan Aikins, junior Dawson Lamb in the middle. Carter plays the strong side linebacker spot, and he had 30 tackles a year ago playing the hybrid safety-linebacker spot. Connor Quilling will give Carter a rest on the defensive side of the ball. Richard Romero is slated to see a lot of playing time, too.
“He (Tschetter) is a physical player and he should be dominant on the defensive side of the ball,” Roman said. “Abel will play some defense, but will focus mostly on offense with the injury to Wallace. Connor is working hard, plays tough and has a great attitude.
“Neither Jordan or Dawson are the biggest guys around, but they are very instinctive and very active. I’m looking for good things with them, and I expect them both to have good seasons.”
The secondary will have two new cornerback starters with junior Landon Truesdale taking over for the injured Wallace, and Brandon Gagnon replacing Caulin Bartley. Spencer Rogers, a co-captain this year, moves from cornerback, and teams with Sevon Mandoki at safety. Tyler Huling is also working some at free safety and Kellen McDermott is working some at strong safety.
“Landon is athletic, and he gained a lot of knowledge practicing with us during the playoffs,” Roman said. “I think that has helped him make the jump.”
“I like what we have with (Gagnon),” said Steve Dilley, defensive coordinator. “He works extremely hard, and he’s tall (5-11) for a cornerback, so he can compete with receivers for jump balls.”
Depth is in the form of varsity newcomers Kyle Glanzmann, Cole McDannald, Colby Zempf and Terin Keller.
Rogers had 78 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a score. He isn’t big, but he’s physical and fearless.
Mandoki had a blocked field goal and 12 tackles in limited action last season.
“I feel like we found a home for him this season,” Roman said. “He is athletic and tough. He’s athletic enough we can bring him up (and bump receivers) and play man-to-man, and he’s tough enough to come into the box.”