The Carson-Carroll connection |

The Carson-Carroll connection

Former Carson High football coach Russell McCarvel gave Carson City a connection to a national championship this past season when he served as the running backs coach for the Carroll College football team.

That Carson City connection may grow in 2006 as a couple of Carson High football players could be heading to Carroll next season. The NAIA school in Helena, Mont., will be seeking its fifth straight national title next season.

The first day of the national signing period for football is today, but schools like Carroll will be in the process of recruiting players for the next several weeks.

Two Carson lineman, Zach Taylor and Eric Walther, have been recruited by Idaho State. Carson coach Shane Quilling said that Taylor and Walther were on the second tier of linemen who Idaho State is recruiting. Quilling also said that Walther is no longer looking at Idaho State as an option, but that Taylor could still end up at the school.

“They’re still in limbo,” Quilling said. Among other possibilities for Taylor and Walther are Carroll, Southern Oregon, another NAIA school, or Division II Humboldt State.

“I don’t know where to guess right now,” said Quilling about where Taylor and Walther will end up. “It will be somewhere.”

Quilling said Carroll is also recruiting Carson running back Bryan Maffei, a 5-9 175-pounder with 4.4 speed. Quilling said Maffei is scheduled to visit the school on the weekend of Feb. 10.

“Carroll’s after him fairly hard,” Quilling said. “I think Carroll’s going to offer him a pretty good deal. They’re looking forward to having him up there.”

Spring Creek’s James Edwards is another running back being recruited by Carroll. While McCarvel is restricted on what he can say about recruiting, he did talk about the type of running back that Carroll looks for and Maffei fits that description.

“One cut, downhill-type of runner” that doesn’t “do a lot of dancing,” said McCarvel about the type of running back Carroll recruits.

“I’m kind of a phone recruit guy,” said McCarvel on his role in recruiting. McCarvel talks to out-of-state recruits on the phone and also evaluates film of players being recruited.

“We try to recruit obviously a lot of local kids,” he said. “We’re pretty selective of what kind of kid we want to get up here.”

Only one other school, a Division III school, has ever won four straight national titles. Carroll has also advanced to the national semifinals the last six years and is the only NAIA school to do that.

Carroll went unbeaten this past season and under McCarvel’s direction had two 1,000-yard rushers in Ryan Grosulak and Jed Thomas, who are both returning next season. So Carroll was able to match USC, which had two 1,000-yard rushers in LenDale White and Reggie Bush, with one major difference, McCarvel noted.

“We won our last game,” said McCarvel, noting USC lost to Texas 41-38 in the Rose Bowl.

They reall worked hard,” said McCarvel about Grosulak and Thomas. “Pretty much all the credit goes to them and they’re hard work. They really needed to be unselfish.”

But there’s no understating McCarvel’s job as he has to make sure week-in-week-out that his running backs are ready to play in all aspects of the game – running, blocking and catching. He said the biggest difference from high school is the pass protection schemes. “I’m still learning about the nuiances of our offense,” McCarvel said.

“It was a lot of work this year, but it was very rewarding,” said McCarvel about his first season.

McCarvel served as Carroll’s running backs coach while maintaining a high school teaching position.

“It made for a busy fall,” he said. “The payoff was great. It was a special group of players.”