Life isn't getting any easier for the Carson High football team.
Coming off a 53-19 loss at home against arch rival Douglas to open the Sierra League season last week, the Senators now face defending league champion Hug tonight in Reno.
Carson (0-1 league, 2-2 overall) will be out to snap a two-game losing streak against Hug (1-0, 3-1) in a game that kicks off at 7:30. This is going to be a big challenge, literally speaking, according to coach Shane Quilling.
"They are kind of scary," Quilling said. "They're a solid team, and big. They're the biggest team in the league, hands down.
"But they're beatable. It's just going to come down to which Carson team shows up. We can't be making mistakes to give them the game."
Carson has given up 87 points the last two weeks in losses against Bishop Manogue and Douglas. Turnovers and field position were critical last week for the Senators, who lost three fumbles and one interception. Douglas began five different possessions in Carson territory - one on an onside kick to start the game - and the Tigers converted four of those into touchdowns.
The Senators were also hurt by big plays, including a 56-yard run and 83-yard return of the second half kickoff by Douglas junior Tyler Tinstman.
Douglas took complete control of that game in the opening moments after the intermission. First came Tinstman's kick return. Then Carson fumbled the ball away and Douglas scored on the next play. And suddenly, just 37 seconds into the third quarter, the Tigers had extended a 27-19 lead to 41-19.
"We made mistakes to give them the game. You can't do that against good teams," Quilling said.
Speaking of good teams, the Senators now face a Hug squad that features multiple weapons and has scored 111 points in four games (27.75 average). For example, the Hawks rushed for 372 yards while quarterback Darryl Feemster threw three TD passes in a 46-24 win against Manogue on Sept. 2.
Remember, the Hawks are big. Just look at a line that includes Johnny Tonata (6-foot-5, 305 pounds), Uli Kofutua (6-4, 265), Malakai Niko (6-1, 235) and Derek Kosub (6-4, 285).
Darren Shepherd has rushed for 359 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown run against Manogue, and Gabe Dobbins 286 yards. Feemster is 15-for-27 for 167 with no interceptions, while Chris McKinish has eight receptions for 110 yards and has scored four touchdowns.
"They like to go for the quick strike," Quilling said. "First, we're going to have to contain their quarterback (Feemster). He's very athletic and quick. We've got to put pressure on him."
Carson counters with Bryan Maffei, who has rushed for 802 yards and scored 11 TDs in four games. He ran for 138 yards and two TDs against Douglas, though 80 of those yards and both scores came in the first quarter.
Carson scored on three of four possessions to start the game, then lost momentum on back-to-back possessions shortly before halftime. The Senators drove to the 23, ignited by a 33-yard pass from Chris McBroom to tight end Jason Dittenber, but then turned the ball over on downs. The Senators got the ball right back on an interception by linebacker Travis Lamborn, but came away empty handed again as they lost 10 yards on a fumble, Maffei was dropped for a 10-yard loss on a pass reception and McBroom's fourth-down pass fell incomplete as time expired.
"We have seen the enemy, and the enemy is us," Quilling said. "This is going to be a tough challenge, but we're capable of meeting the challenge. The bottom line is, we've got to be disciplined and do our job."
Notes: Senior kicker Matt Mitchell will not play again this season due to an elbow fracture, according to Quilling. Mitchell was injured in Carson's season-opening 31-7 win against Moapa Valley. ... Douglas won last week's JV game 51-12 and also won the freshman game 14-13.
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.