Steele having fun for Carson
Chris Steele is having a lot of fun playing football this year.
That’s because the 6-foot-3 180-pound senior linebacker-wide receiver has gone from playing mainly special teams last year to being a solid two-way player for the Senators, who host Spanish Springs in the quarterfinals of the NIAA 4A regional football playoffs at 7 p.m. today.
Spanish Springs brings back good memories for Steele. In the first meeting, Steele had a 41-yard interception return that led to a big score right before the half, and Carson went on to post a 23-13 win over the Cougars.
It was a good feeling for Steele. It gave him a sense of belonging.
“You always feel like you help the team, but it’s not the same feeling as when you make a key play,” Steele said. “I’ve been playing about the way I expected. I’m just trying to do my job like everybody else.”
And, coach Blair Roman is more than happy with the results he’s seen.
“You don’t see many wide receivers tough enough to play outside linebacker,” Roman said. “He’s a tough nut. He does a great job for us.
“He’s a lot like Ty (Collins). He usually knows what play is coming before it’s run. He’s not the fastest guy in the world, but he makes plays. He’s tall and rangy, and that helps him get into passing lanes and reach balls that other people might not get.”
That’s what happened on the interception that Steele made against Spanish Springs. Tanner Oates tried to throw it over the top of Steele, but was unsuccessful.
It was Steele’s only interception, but he’s been in on 33 tackles this year. He said he prefers defense only because Carson doesn’t throw a lot so there isn’t as many chances to make plays in a one-receiver set in what is basically a running offense.
Steele started the first game of the year at outside linebacker, but Chance Quilling started the next couple of games there as Steele focused on wide receiver. When Dylan Sawyers went down with a hip injury, it forced Roman to shuffle players around, and Steele found himself playing a lot at outside linebacker again. He feels comfortable there after playing that same spot as a freshman and sophomore.
Steele’s size also helps at wide receiver where he uses his basketball skills to make plays.
“I’m bigger (and taller) than most defensive backs I play against,” said Steele, who has 12 catches for 144 yards and a score. “I’m 180 pounds where a lot of guys are 160. I can get up higher than most guys. I can box out defenders like I do when I’m rebounding a ball.”
“He’s a possession guy,” Roman said. “If you look back, most of the throws were for first downs or he got real close to the sticks to get us a first down.”
His biggest moment this year didn’t come by making a key play. It came when the Senators pulled out a 16-13 overtime win over rival Douglas earlier this year.
“Beating Douglas was a big thrill,” he said. “A win versus Douglas in any sport is a big thing. I probably played the best against Damonte Ranch.”
It was against Damonte that he scored his only TD of the season, an 81-yard pass-and-catch play from Trey Jensen.
“It wasn’t even supposed to go to me,” Steele said. “It was supposed to go to Jon (Parker). Trey rolled out and I ran a fade along the sideline.”