Reed rolls against Carson
Appeal Sports Writer
SPARKS – With a thick mist rising off the rained-on gridiron, it looked like the football field at Reed High School was doing a slow burn.
And while the Carson Senators were able to hold the High Desert League champion Reed Raiders to a simmer for the better part of a quarter and a half, the Raiders offense and defense ultimately boiled over.
The result Friday was a 37-0 victory by Reed in the first round of the NIAA Northern 4A Regional championships.
With the win, the Raiders improved to 10-1 and will host Galena, an 18-14 winner over North Valleys, Thursday at Reed High School.
The Senators ended their season at 5-6.
“We had our chances,” said Carson coach Shane Quilling, whose Senators trailed only 3-0 before the Raiders onslaught began midway through the second quarter. “Reed has a good football team – no doubt. We played a pretty damn good game for one-and-a-half quarter quarters.”
But the killer for Carson was giving up two interceptions that led to two quick Reed touchdowns and a 24-0 halftime lead.
After Freddy Bernal’s 22-yard field goal put Reed on the board in the first quarter, the Raiders capped off a seven-play drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass from senior Tony Maldonado to Tyler Olivero for a 10-0 lead with 6 minutes, 27 seconds left in the first half.
Maldonado, who led the North this season with more than 2,000 passing yards, was solid, finishing 6-of-13 for 198 yards and three touchdowns through the air and adding 21 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Carson quarterback Mitch Hammond threw the first of his four interceptions to defensive back Brandon Cotter, who returned it to the Carson 18. On the subsequent play senior running back Jerel Clark took a pitch in for an 18-yard score and a 17-0 lead.
The Senators had their best chance to score on the following possession and had a 14-play drive, starting from their own 36. But wide receiver Ryan Eichenberger dropped a 21-yard pass from Hammond in the end zone and three plays later, on a first-and-goal from the 9, Cotter tipped off a Hammond pass to teammate Tyler Bannister, who returned it from the end zone to the Raider 5.
On the first play from scrimmage, with 25 seconds left in the half, Maldonado hit senior wideout Kyle Shaney for a 95-yard catch-and-run for the 24-0 halftime lead from which Carson never recovered.
“Everyone in the house knew that play was coming,” Quilling said of the pass to Shaney. “That’s why we had a Cover 3. The turnovers killed us.”
Reed coach Ernie Howren said the secret to the Raiders success boiled down to great practice.
“The kids had a great week,” Howren said. “We took advantage of the things that came up and applied what we learned in practice. (Maldonado) just reads defenses. When he has opportunities, he takes advantage of them.
“But he’ll be the first guy to tell you how important the offensive line and receivers are. It’s a team game and all three phases did the job. And the defense set it up all night long. That (Carson) offense was averaging 26 points a game (the last five weeks). To shut them out was a huge accomplishment.”
Carson running back Travis Lamborn picked up 98 yards on 20 carries to push his season total over 1,100 yards to go with 11 scores. Hammond, who went 6-of-19 for 40 yards and had four picks through the air, added 59 yards on 13 carries.
“To contain two outstanding athletes (Lamborn and Hammond)…for our defense to be able to contain those guys, they were doing something right,” Howren said.
Robbie Bozin added 49 yards on nine carries for Carson, while Clark finished with a team-high 75 yards on eight carries and added one touchdown for Reed. Shaney caught three passes for 146 yards and a score.
Reed closed out the scoring in the third quarter on a 1-yard TD by Maldonado and a 17-yard touchdown pass from Maldonado to Cory Whitaker. Each score was preceded by a Hammond interception.
Howren said his team looks forward to a rematch with the 7-3 Grizzlies, whom the Raiders rallied to defeat, 40-34, last week at Galena.
“We think the world of their program,” Howren said of the Grizzlies. “They have a great bunch of kids.”
For his part, Quilling thought his players did the best with what they had.
“We talked all season about getting back to the playoffs,” Quilling said. “We lost a ton of talent last year. Honestly, I thought we overachieved. We lost five guys up front (last season). We had only one senior (offensive guard Jamie Greene) up front. We lost two all-league linemen. We lost the entire defensive line and two linebackers.”
Quilling said he looks forward to next season.
“Again, we played a bunch of young guys,” Quilling said. “We have the core of our team back next year on both sides of the ball. I’m excited about that.”
Quilling also said numbers don’t tell the whole truth about his Senators.
“They were a good team,” Quilling said of Carson. “Five-and six is a losing record, but they aren’t losers. They know that. They all are winners. They did the best they could, the whole bunch of them. I’m proud.”