On paper, the Elko High football team had a rough start last Friday night in its 35-14 season-opening loss against Spring Creek in a meeting of Ruby Mountain rivals.
Well, guess who's coming to town now? Elko visits Carson for a 7:30 p.m. nonconference contest tonight, but Shane Quilling isn't paying any attention to last week's score. Instead, the Carson coach expects to have more than a handful against the motivated Indians.
"They're going to come out here and play hard," Quilling said. "They have something to prove after last week, so I expect a real tough game."
Carson, coming off a 31-7 win in its season opener at home against Moapa Valley last Friday, is now ranked No. 7 in the Sierra Nevada Sports Media poll and looking to go to 2-0 for the first time in Quilling's five seasons as head coach. To do that, the Senators need to get past an opponent that is a traditional playoff qualifier (5-6 overall in 2004), although the program is now under the direction of a new coach, Dan Chappuis, who only took over on June 1 after long-time coach Bob Milligan was fired.
So, what does the Carson game plan look like for tonight? According to Quilling, the Senators plan to put the ball in the air more than last Friday, when they rushed for 361 yards and only threw two passes.
"We're not going to do much different, except we're obviously going to have to throw the ball a little more to help our running game," Quilling said. "We didn't throw much against Moapa, but we didn't have to. We'd like to throw 10 to 15 times. We feel confident throwing the ball. We have good receivers and we have a quarterback (sophomore Chris McBroom) who can throw it."
Carson ran the ball against Moapa Valley primarily with Bryan Maffei, who rushed for 337 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior scored on runs of 75, 80, 45 and 41 yards, so Elko will obviously focus on preventing the big play.
In their loss to Spring Creek, the Indians did limit the state's returning rushing leader James Edwards to 159 yards on 30 carries - he ran for a state single-season record 2,992 yards in 2004 - but Bryce Saddoris tacked on 150 yards on 14 carries and scored four touchdowns.
Elko quarterback Kade Anderson ran for one touchdown and passed to Denim Inman (all-league last year as a defensive back and kicker) for another in a game that was tied 14-14 before Saddoris scored on a 43-yard run with 24 seconds remaining before halftime to give Spring Creek a lead it never relinquished.
Whether the ball stays on the ground or goes up in the air, Quilling believes the outcome will be decided in the trenches.
"The bottom line, it's going to come down to who can control the line of scrimmage," he said. "We did a very good job last week and that's our goal again. We want to get after it and play real physical up front."
The Senators will be without the services of senior kicker Matt Mitchell, who had surgery on his fractured elbow on Tuesday. The good news is that there's a chance he could be used in PAT situations as soon as next Saturday's game against Bishop Manogue in Reno.
"They put a pin in a it and he'll get it in a cast next week. Hopefully, we can get him cleared for Manogue, but we'll have to wait a couple of days before we find out," Quilling said.
Johnny Hazeltine has drawn the assignment for PAT and field goal attempts, while Quentin Dankworth will handle kickoffs. Steve Sawyers is the punter.
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.