It’s Carson-Douglas, and that’s all that really matters
The 73rd renewal of the Carson-Douglas football rivalry has little to do with playoff seeding.
Carson (6-2, 3-0) has already sewn up at least a share of the Sierra League championship and the No. 1 playoff seed, while the rival Tigers (3-6, 1-2) are assured of at least the last playoff spot heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. Senior Night contest at the Jim Frank Track & Field Complex.
It’s a big game for both teams, according to the coaches.
“There is incentive in terms of us winning Friday,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “The kids want to win the title outright. The rivalry speaks for itself. I haven’t had to say much this week.”
“We’re excited about it,” DHS coach Ernie Monfiletto told the Record Courier earlier this week. “You always want to beat your rival. In a rivalry, it’s an important game 365 days a year. We’re excited to have an opportunity to get back at them. It’s ben an open sore since Nov. 1 (2013).”
If recent history tells us anything, this could be a close battle. The last four meetings have been decided by 13 points, including last year’s 19-13 win in overtime by the Senators. Carson won 16-13 in overtime in 2010 and won 31-29 in 2011 before Douglas rebounded to win the 2012 game, 27-25.
Roman is hoping for a better performance than last year when it took a big comeback in the second half and Joey Thurman’s TD run to pull out the six-point OT win.
“I felt last year that the seniors were caught up way too much with the rivalry,” Roman said. “They forgot to go out and play the darn game. Douglas came out a lot more intense than us. The second half the kids woke up. That’s a key. We need to come out ready to play.
“We’ve been working on cutting down on the little mistakes. I feel we’re very close to being an explosive team on offense. I want us to go out there and execute.”
Carson has put up 76 points in the last two games.
Colby Brown is zeroing in on 1,000 yards (he has 917), and could get it as early as Friday. He has done a nice job as a receiver with a team-leading 17 catches for 189 yards and a score. Elijah Fajayan has been a nice complement to Brown with 486 yards. Asa Carter has 266 yards and three scores. Quarterback Joe Nelson is 2-0 as a starter, completing 26 of 49 passes for 374 yards and three scores.
Kaleb Foster leads the Douglas defense, a unit which has three TD interception returns.
“They make a lot of big plays,” Monfiletto said. “They will grind you, grind you and then pop one. That has cost us at times, so we can’t afford to take plays off.”
The Carson defense, led by linebackers Nolan Shine and Ikela Lewis, defensive end Brady Rivera, linebacker Gerardo Lobato, cornerbacks Caulin Bartley and Rooker, and Carter, is coming off two straight shutouts (42-0 vs. Manogue and 34-0 vs. Galena). Roman said there is no talk about three straight.
“We haven’t talked about that,” he said. “We have played sound defense. Ernie is always going to have a wrinkle, a play we will need to adjust to.
”This is a game where you can’t get caught up in stats. This is about each guy doing their job and giving their best effort on each play.”
Douglas’ offense has struggled, scoring just 12 offensive TDs all year.
Roman has big concerns about tailback Cale Kynett and flanker Nick Abreu. Kynett has carried the ball 134 times for 597 yards. He has also grabbed seven passes for 130 yards and a score. Abreu has also played some quarterback this year, going 11-for-30 passing for 203 yards. He has 67 carried for 292 yards and six scores, and 23 catches for 157 yards.
“Kynett at 205 pounds is a bowling ball back there,” Roman said. “He’s tough. We will have our hands full stopping him. Abreu plays like a flanker, and they try to get him the ball in a lot of different ways. he’s a heck of a player, and he was good last year, too.”
This could also be a game decided by special teams. Douglas gave up two kick-off returns for TDs last week. Abreu, meanwhile, has breakaway speed as a return guy.
“That (allowing two returns) was uncharacteristic of Douglas,” Roman said. “I’m sure Ernie has worked hard on that this week. We need to perform well. Abreu has returned two or three for touchdowns. Douglas does a nice job punting the ball; pinning teams inside the 10.”
Don’t be surprised to see Carson try to place kick-offs, a practice that has worked well all season.
Fullback Seamus Burns is dinged up, and his status is day-to-day, according to Roman.
“How much he’ll play we’ll have to see,” Roman said.
Barring any last-second decisions, Brandon Maffei will start at strong safety, but Roman expects Brady O’Keefe to see playing time. O’Keefe played well in his two starts this year.
Roman dreads Homecoming, but welcomes Senior Night.
“It’s a night you get to honor the seniors and their parents,” Roman said. “It’s a nice ceremony.
“Senior Night has never been an issue. Homecoming is an issue because it’s all week with activities, and you worry about the focus of your players.”
Playing in their final regular-season game are: Lobato, Tyler Rogers, Shine, Rivera, Maffei, Brown, Rooker, Burns, Jesse Medina, Jacob Guthrie, Chris Miranda, David Ortega, Jon Davalos, Eric Cumming, Josue Orozco, Maurilio Olivares, Tyus Muckensturm and Corey Reid.