There's no letup for the Carson High School football team. Tonight, for the third week in a row, the Senators will face a test that could determine their playoff fate when they travel to Reno for a Sierra League contest against North Valleys.
Carson (2-2 league, 3-3 overall) will be up against a North Valleys squad (1-3, 2-4) that has been very representative in its first year of competition at the varsity level under the direction of head coach Blair Roman, who formerly coached as an assistant at Carson.
"We're going to have to play well because North Valleys has been playing people tough," Carson coach Shane Quilling said. "They should have beat Wooster; they fumbled inside the 20 and had an interception. But like we told the kids, the last three weeks, we've got to take it one game at a time and get after it. Nobody is going to belly-up against us. Nobody is going to lay down for us so we have to come out and play and do the things we've been doing."
The loser of tonight's game will very likely fall out of playoff contention. Reno (4-0) and Douglas (3-0) are out front, followed by Carson (2-2), Hug (1-2), Wooster (1-2) and North Valleys (1-3).
North Valleys lost its first two league games, 13-6 to Dougla and 14-6 against Wooster, but the Panthers are coming off a 27-0 victory at South Tahoe last Saturday.
South Tahoe missed some scoring opportunities early when the Vikings fumbled the ball away inside the North Valleys 10 and then had a 51-yard touchdown run called back by a penalty. Eventually, North Valleys drove 80 yards on four plays, capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Hanson to Mike Tilton for an 8-0 with 15 seconds left before halftime.
North Valleys, which has been outscored 94-120 in its six games this season, opened the second half with a nine-play, 71-yard march that ended on a 1-yard touchdown run by Vince Knight. Jon Benitez scored on a 20-yard run early in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
In Carson's game last week, Wooster led 14-13 at halftime behind 213 yards in total offense, but was limited to 30 yards after the intermission. The Colts were stopped for losses on nine plays in the second half and quarterback Zac Bryson, one of the league's top offensive threats, was sacked five times. Bryson completed seven of nine passes in the first half, but spent much of the second half on the run from a relentless Carson pass rush.
Just as significant, the Senators had one penalty overall and no turnovers.
"We win 42-14 and we didn't turn the ball over once, that's a big thing. I think we're making a statement now. We have a lot to come back and prove, but I think we can do it," senior quarterback Frank Bleuss said.
Bleuss, in his first game since he sustained a concussion in the first quarter against Hug on Sept. 20, guided the Senators to touchdowns on four straight possessions to start the second half as they came from behind to post an important 42-14 victory against Wooster last Saturday.
"The best thing about this, I was telling the kids, 'Hey, we can play with anybody,'" Quilling said. "I think this sends a message that we're back and we're ready to go the next three weeks, with North Valleys, and then we get Fallon, and hey, Douglas. We just have to take one game at a time and get after it. We've got to come out and do the things we have been."