The weather at John Robb Stadium should be miserable when Carson High plays undefeated McQueen in a first round playoff game tonight at 7. Shane Quilling couldn't be happier.
"I hope it rains. I hope it's awful. Anything that can muddy them up can only help us," said the Senators' second-year coach.
It might be the only thing that can slow down the Lancers. Nothing else has. McQueen, the defending zone champion, has outscored its opponents 468-15 this season. But if there is a team that can score and move the ball on the Lancers, it might be Carson. The Senators are second in the Northern 4A in total offense, averaging nearly 365 yards per game. Who's first? Yep, McQueen (384.3).
"Obviously we're going to have to play a picture perfect game," Quilling said. "If we play defense like we did last week (43-32 loss to Douglas), we'll lose by 50. But I think we have the type of offense that can cause some problems for them, you know, quick hitting. We might lose some physical battles but I think we can run the ball. How good? I don't know. But we're the last team that really has had any success against them."
Quilling's talking about last year's first round playoff game, which Carson lost 28-6 despite out gaining McQueen on the ground 181-83 and ended up with 250 yards of total offense. The Senators (5-4) ground game is even better this year behind Chris Kotter, the Northern 4A's second leading rusher who's also first in scoring (1,271 yards, 17 TDs). Quarterback Frank Bleuss has rushed for 616 yards and nine touchdowns and could be the X-factor in tonight's game because he's just as much a threat to throw the ball as run it.
"We're going to have some great pass protection because they're going to come hard," Quilling said. "Their front seven is as good as I've seen in coaching. They're tough."
McQueen has big-time players all over the field. Running back Ed Cortez has 14 touchdowns and has rushed for 964 yards on 67 attempts, a 14.4 yard per carry average. Matt Marner has rushed for 556 yards and 14 TDs and Fallon transfer Chris Warner has three touchdowns and 397 yards on the ground. Quarterback Zach Borba has thrown for 806 yards and 13 TDs and tight end Mohu Otuafi has caught 21 passes for 390 yards and seven TDs. So who do you focus on?
"I told the kids today that you still got to play the game," Quilling said. "On paper they're probably the better team but the best teams don't always win. Look at what happened last week in college football. If we can weather them in the first quarter, then let's see what happens. They look to jump on you early. They live on taking advantage of your mistakes. We're just going to have to step up defensively and play big. The kids know it's going to be a tough haul. But if we can keep it close, we have a chance, obviously."
That in itself has been difficult as the Lancers' closest game this season was last week against Galena (33-0). In last year's playoff game against the Senators, McQueen (9-0) scored on two of its first three possessions and never really allowed Carson back into the game. This season, McQueen's defense has allowed 620 yards in total yards for the entire season.
Something else not in Carson's favor is that its had its season the past two years end against the Lancers in the first round. And this easily could be the third time.
"I never imagined going into the season that we'd play McQueen in the first round," Quilling said. "I knew we'd have to play them eventually but I thought we would (No.) 1 or 2. But we didn't take care of business early in the season."