Here's some advice for anyone who plans to watch the Carson Senators and Hug Hawks play football tonight: don't blink, you just might miss a touchdown.
With an abundance of speed, the two rivals had better be prepared for a good track meet in their Sierra League opener at 7:30 p.m. at Carson. It should be a pretty good football game, too.
"It should be good," Carson coach Shane Quilling said. "Both sides are real well matched. They have some great speed, we have some great speed; they have some great athletes, we have some great athletes."
The game is obviously important.
"The next five games are all imperative, and it starts with this one," Quilling said. "This is what we've been gearing for the last two weeks. The way this league is, If you're going to win it, you can't lose this one."
Carson comes in with a 1-1 record against high caliber opponents -- a 19-13 overtime loss to Elko and then a 20-7 win against Galena last week. Hug is 2-0 after relatively easy victories over Sparks (49-7) and Fallon (54-14).
The Hawks have rushed for 811 yards in two games, led by junior Mitch Moore (270 yards on 25 carries) and sophomore Isaac Porter (267 yards on 21 carries). Porter scored four touchdowns last week against Fallon, including 25- and 32-yard runs from scrimmage and a 92-yard kick return. Moore also broke a 72-yard run from scrimmage.
As for that speed, Hug's Porter placed sixth in the 100-meter dash at the state track and field meet back in May while quarterback/all region defensive back Alan Thomas and wide receiver Daniel Craig placed third and fifth respectively in the 400. Carson counters with wideout/defensive back George Pincock, who placed second in the 400 and fourth in the 200 at state. Pincock and Matt Waterman were also members of Carson's state runner-up 4x400 relay team.
And then there's Chris Kotter, whose 52-yard touchdown run up the middle with 4:54 left to play gave the Senators their first lead of the game against Galena. Kotter has rushed for 178 yards on 30 carries, ninth best in the Northern 4A this season, and speedy quarterback Frank Bleuss has gained 163 yards on 44 carries.
Since Hug has exploded to score 103 points, the Senators will turn to a defensive unit that limited Elko and Galena to a total of 26 points.
"The defense has played very well in both games," Quilling said. "We could have been out of the (Galena) game early after turning the ball over three times, but they came up with a couple of good stands and kept us in the game."
Defensive tackle Mike Moore had two quarterback sacks and one stop for no gain at Carson's 13 late in the third quarter at a time when Galena still led, 7-6. Inside linebackers Nick Shine and John Stewart have stood out, as has outside linebacker Jack Brooks (two fumble recoveries and a quarterback sack in the second half). Sophomores Brian Welch and David Cadwallader have also contributed, according to Quilling.
"It's been a team thing because we've had 16, 17 kids playing a lot on defense and they've all done a good job," the coach said.
The main concern for the Senators is to avoid offensive miscues that have been costly in their first two games.
"We just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot on offense," Quilling said. "I don't know if will be able to get away with making mistakes like we did against Galena."
The Senators will be bolstered on the offensive side by the return of 6-0, 230-pound senior center Andrew Candia, who has missed the first two games due to an injury. That will enable Nathan White (5-8, 160) to move to tackle.