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Thurman, Senators host Reno tonight

Darrell Moody
dmoody@nevadaappeal.com

When you ask Carson High sophomore Joey Thurman what his best game of the season has been, it takes him just a split second to answer.

“It was definitely Douglas,” said the Carson running back, who leads the Senators (7-1, 7-0) into tonight’s showdown with Reno (6-3, 6-2) at 7:30 p.m. “That was the best game I’ve played. I remember I was really nervous before the game. It was my first varsity game against Douglas.”

And, he played like a champ. Thurman carried the ball 11 times for 74 yards and two scores in the 31-29 win over the Tigers. He scored on a 4-yard run and then added a 70-yard fumble return for a score which snapped a 14-all tie and gave the Senators the lead.

“I happened to be in the right spot at the right time,” Thurman said. “I had scored earlier in the game, but stat-wise it was the best I played.”

Thurman, one of three sophomores on this year’s varsity squad (Aaron Cowee and Andrew Gutierrez are the others), has been a starter since the second game of the season, and he’s more than held his own.

Carson coach Blair Roman explained his philosophy of moving players through his program. He said he wants to keep all freshmen together an entire year because it’s the only year they may all play together.

“Generally it’s two things,” Roman said. “Number one is he is physically ready to play at that level, and obviously a lot of that is the evaluation process during the freshman season and off-season before the sophomore year, and Joey has that.

“The second part is the mental part. That’s huge. It’s (going from freshman to varsity) the equivalent of going from high school football to college football. It’s not being intimidated mentally. Joey has been a solid player for us. Attitude-wise, he’s been extremely coachable.”

Thurman, who inherited the job after Jacob McClelland broke his foot in the season-opener against Highland, has carried 58 times for 293 yards and three scores. He has three receptions for 31 yards.

“I was a little intimidated against Highland,” Thurman admitted. “They were so big. I was really nervous that first game. I still get pre-game jitters, but not like that first time. I knew I had to step it up (after McClelland’s injury).

“I think I’ve played pretty well so far, not including the Manogue game. There was a fourth-down play and I was on the wrong side of the play and missed my block.”

Despite being the starter almost the entire season, Thurman knows he’ll be back in a scuffle with McClelland for the starting job next year. McClelland gives Carson some straight ahead power running, while the smaller Thurman gives the position a little more quickness.

“Joey reminds me a little of Mark Sinnott when Mark was a sophomore,” Roman said. “There’s a chance we could move him to halfback (where Dylan Sawyers plays) next season.”

Thurman said he would welcome that with open arms.

“It would open the field more,” Thurman said. “That position would be more than just ground-pound up the middle.”

Thurman isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but he’s shown he can get some of the tough yards up the middle. He’s also shown that he can pass block and run block. One of Carson’s best running plays this year has been the fly sweep, and Thurman has big blocking responsibilities on that play for Sawyers and Chance Quilling.

NOTES: The JV game has been moved to 4:30 p.m. because of Senior Night activities prior to kick-off … Roman said the Senators are as healthy as they have been all season … Carson will either be a second seed or third seed when the playoffs begin a week from Friday, which puts the Senators and McQueen on a possible second-round collision course.