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Senators looking for first victory against ‘South Reno Triangle’

BY MIKE HOUSER

Appeal Sports Writer

Having played linebacker at Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, David Laumea Sr. wanted his son, David Laumea Jr., to fall in love with football the same way he did.

But when it came to getting Junior into Pop Warner, Pop Laumea had to answer to a higher power… or two.

“His mom (Catherine) and his grandmother didn’t want him to play.” says Laumea Sr., who grew up in American Samoa and came to the States when he was 13. “I was out of the picture. Period. Know what I mean?”

But Senior wasn’t entirely out of the scene. He was Junior’s YMCA soccer coach and still managed to teach his son some gridiron basics out in the yard without catching too much heat.

“He was small,” says Senior, a six-footer (“or 5-12, however you want to look at it,”) who wanted to play ball at USC, but says he was too small, couldn’t afford it and went on to attend community college instead.

But small is no longer a word used to describe the 17-year-old Junior, now a 6-4, 230-pound senior defensive tackle for the Carson Senators, who has grown into a game he used to only watch on television.

“Now Junior’s bigger than me and wants to go to college,” Senior says proudly. “I’m all for that.”

And so is Junior, who is also known as “Tavita,” which is Samoan for David.

“I gave it a shot and now I love it,” says Junior, who began playing as a 5-6, 160-pound freshman for the Senators and made the varsity team as a junior.

Junior, who said he was nervous his first year and played because his dad wanted him to, is one of the key cogs on the Senators defense and is coming off a game in which he notched two sacks and recovered a fumble in Carson’s 23-7 loss to Damonte Ranch on Friday.

Laumea, who was voted co-captain for Homecoming by his teammates, will help lead the Senators in tonight’s drive to knock off the Galena Grizzlies for sole possession of fourth place in the Sierra League standings.

Kickoff is 7:30 at Galena High School.

“David’s improved a ton this year,” says first-year Carson head coach Blair Roman. “He’s one of the seniors I feel like has helped me to lay the foundation for what we want to do in the program. He’s played a big role in that this year.”

Laumea has also played the no-frills, old-school kind of ball that his father approves of.

“He maintains his enthusiasm, but he plays a clean game, doesn’t act like he’s all that and has no fancy dances,” Senior says.

He also makes sure to spread the wealth when talking of Carson’s improved defense, which forced two turovers of its own against the Mustangs, but was still overtaxed by five turnovers committed by the Senators.

“Justin Barlow is just an animal (at noseguard on D and left guard on offense),” Laumea says. “(The coaches) work him pretty good both ways. Ryan (A.K.) Hoskins is tall ” he doesn’t have weight, but he’s tough. (Linebacker) Jeff Butler is probably the leader on the defense. He keeps us in line.”

The Senators will need to keep an active Grizzlies offense in check if they are to take the first step to securing the Sierra League’s No. 4 seed in the upcoming Northern 4A regional playoffs.

The Grizzlies, whose 2-2 league record and 2-5 overall mark are identical to Carson’s, are paced by running back Jarrod Faust. The senior has scorched opponents for 990 yards rushing and is complemented by the scrambling play of junior quarterback Beau Bickel and the sure hands of senior tight end Luke Hess and senior wide receiver Nick Dufur.

“Faust is their go-to guy this year,” Roman says of the Grizz, who are coming off a 42-21 victory over South Tahoe and a 42-14 victory over Fallon in their last two games. “We’ve been focusing on trying to slow him down in terms of what we need to do. They’ve got some key cogs on offense (Hess and Dufur) that have done a nice job for them.”

Roman says his team should match up well with Galena, which closes its season against Wooster and first-place Bishop Manogue, while Carson hosts Fallon next week and closes with Douglas (which is tied with Manogue atop the league) on the road.

“We’re kind of similar teams with identical records,” Roman says. “In a lot of ways, we’ve had similar scores against similar opponents. I feel we’re equally matched teams at this point.

“The key is to take care of the football on offense ” we can’t afford five turnovers again. That’s been our focus in practice. The second is to finish drives. We had plenty of opportunities against (third-place) Damonte to add to our point total, but we weren’t able to because of turnovers.”

Tonight’s game wil also mark the first meeting between the teams since Galena came over to the Sierra League after this season’s realignment. So far, Carson is 0-2 in games against the South Reno Triangle, which is comprised of Manogue, Damonte Ranch and Galena.

“(The South Reno Triangle) is definitely an obstacle in front of our program at this point,” Roman says. “As a program, we’re looking to attain that level of success that Galena has had the last couple of years. They’ve had a lot of success.”

Galena was the 2006 Northern 4A regional champion, Manogue was a 3A power that is bringing its success to the 4A ranks and Damonte Ranch is proving to be a program on the rise.

All of which, in addition to making the playoffs, serve to stoke the coals in the belly of Laumea and his teammates.

“It means everything,” Laumea says of the matchup. “I’ve never been to a playoff game (Carson last saw the postseason in 2006). It’s my last year to get it done. We’re going to give it our all. I don’t care who we play as long as I go. If we can go win this game, it will be great for the program. A win could turn our season around.

“It’s going to be a very intense game. (The Grizzlies) have seniors that know what it’s like. They’ll want to go to the playoffs. It’s about who wants it the most.”

As Laumea Sr. can attest to, sometimes you can get what you want.

DOUGLAS AT BISHOP MANOGUE

When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Where: Bishop Manogue High School

Players to watch: Douglas ” OL/DL Parker Robertson, QB Tim Rudnick, WR Zach McFadden, DB Nico Barker, OL/DL Garrett Tenney. Bishop Manogue: RB Josh Dupree, WR Keith Fuetsch,

The skinny: This is a must-see game and essentially for all the marbles in the Sierra League. Douglas must do a good job of containing Dupree. The Tigers have been hit with a rash of injuries which has sidelined Jordan Cruz, Johnny Pollack and James McLaughlin, but they still have some firepower left with Rudnick and McFadden.

LOWRY AT DAYTON

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Where: Dayton High School

Players to watch: Dayton ” OL/DL Mitch Gilgert, RB Conner Oliver, RB Kyle Firestone. Lowry: QB August Ramasco, RB Trevor Grant, RB Joel Barton.

The skinny: This will help decide the fourth and final Northern 3A playoff spot and the right to play Truckee again. Dayton has given up more than 100 points in its last two games ” losses to Truckee and Moapa Valley. Lowry has some impressive skill players in Ramasco, Barton and Grant, while Dayton counters with QB Connor Conroy and RB Conner Oliver.

SPARKS AT FERNLEY

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Where: Fernley High School

Players to watch: Fernley ” RB Mike Kendricks, QB Bryce Baker, DE Reggie Ritchson. Sparks: QB/RB/DE Angel Guillen, QB Joe Puccinelli, WR Bryan Orellana, RB/DB Andre City, LB Moses Daniel.

The skinny: This undoubtedly is a preview of a first-round matchup, so it will be interesting to see if either team shows much of its hand offensively and defensively. Both teams run the ball well, so whoever can play the best run defense will win.

– Capsules compiled by Darrell Moody