There was nothing secret about the Carson High football game plan on Friday night - just give the ball to Bryan Maffei.
And from the start, Maffei left no doubt that he was going to be in for a good night, as the senior running back carried 17 times for 337 yards and four touchdowns in just three quarters to lead the Senators to a season-opening 31-7 triumph at home against Moapa Valley 31-7.
Maffei scored on a 75-yard touchdown run in the opening minute and later shook loose on scoring runs of 80, 45 and 41 yards to slam the door shut on the Pirates and give Shane Quilling his win season-opening win in five years as head coach at Carson.
"I'm just glad Bryan Maffei is on our team," Quilling said. "He's worked hard the last four years and now all that work is paying off. Pound for pound, he's the strongest kid on the team."
That strength showed on the second play from scrimmage when Maffei took a toss around the left end, ran through one tackle, broke another with a straight-arm and raced down the sideline for a touchdown.
Then in the second quarter, right after Moapa Valley got on the scoreboard and cut Carson's lead to 10-7, Maffei answered on the next play from scrimmage as he took an inside handoff, shook off one tackle and went the distance. Just like that, it was 17-7.
To show how the ball bounced favorably for the Senators, Maffei scored on his last carry of the night when he picked up a fumble in his own backfield and swept the left end for a 41-yard touchdown run that extended Carson's lead to 31-7 with 6:45 left in the third quarter.
"It looked like a fumblerooski, but it wasn't," Quilling said. "The snap just went past the quarterback, we were running a sweep to that side anyway and Bryan just took it in stride."
Just like Maffei seemed to pick up Carson's game plan in stride.
"We pretty much knew we were going to run the ball," Maffei said. "The way their ends were flying up the field, we knew the outside Veer would be open, and it was. It was nice to get those long runs early ... I think it took their momentum down and took ours up."
The key for the Senators was their domination on the line of scrimmage, according to Quilling. Start with the offensive line of tackles Caleb Kondor and J.J. Whitehead, guards Zach Taylor and Jesse Green, center Eric Walther plus tight ends Jason Dittenber and Chris Ames.
"We owned them up front, both on offense and defense," Quilling said. "We thought, from watching film on them, that we could dominate on the line so our game plan was to run the ball."
While Maffei was running wild, Carson's defensive unit quietly put on an impressive performance of its own. Moapa Valley, a team that beat Carson 35-10 in last year's season opener and went on to play for the 3A state championship, was limited to nine yards rushing and 73 yards passing on the night. The Pirates had five first downs on the night, three of which came on fourth down conversions.
Mike Davis, Moapa Valley's talented quarterback, completed eight of 20 passes for 69 yards but was sacked four times on the night. He left the game early in the third quarter after being sacked by Dittenber and Walther.
"Their quarterback is good. He throws the ball very well, they just weren't able to handle our pressure," Quilling said. "Coach (Vito) Perrone came up with a good game plan ... we were coming hard and we were coming hard on every play."
The Senators set the tone from the start. Moments after scoring on his long touchdown run to start the game, Maffei collaborated with Dittenber to sack Davis for a 14-yard loss on Moapa Valley's first play.
The Moapa Valley touchdown was set up by Lance Kirk's blocked punt and recovery at the Carson 27. The Pirates, aided by two fourth-down conversions, scored 10 plays later on Kyle Ozaki's 3-yard pass from Davis.
The Pirates threatened again on their next possession - aided by a fourth down pass interference call - but the drive died on the 17 as Carson defensive back Ryan Jesse batted down a fourth down pass. That was Moapa Valley's last threat.
The only bad news of the night came in the first half when three-year starting kicker Matt Mitchell went out with what was originally diagnosed as a broken elbow. Mitchell had kicked two conversions and a 36-yard field goal before he left.
"That's a tough one," Quilling said. "He might be the best kicker in the North and we may have lost him for the year."
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.