This was arguably Blair Roman’s best coaching job in his six-year stint at Carson High School, and his peers felt so, too.
Roman, who guided the Senators to the school’s fourth championship in the past five years and a 9-3 record this past season, was named the Sierra League and Northern Region Division I Coach of the Year.
“I’m honored,” said Roman, who received the honor over Reed’s Ernie Howren, whose Raiders won the regional title and reached the state finals. “To be voted by your peers means a lot.”
Reed’s High Desert title didn’t surprise anybody. The Raiders were expected to win. Carson, however, was tabbed for either second or third in the Sierra League behind league favorite Galena depending on who you talked to. Many felt that Carson exceeded expectations, which is a tribute to Roman, his coaching staff, and, of course, the players.
The other big award was nabbed by two-way lineman Andrew Cooper, who was named the Sierra League Lineman of the Year.
Cooper was a two-way Northern Region Division I selection. Senior kick returner Joey Thurman, junior linebacker Nolan Shine and safety Asa Carter also were selected.
Cooper’s blocking helped Carson become one of the most prolific offenses in the region, and he also contributed 20 tackles. Thurman averaged 25 yards per kick-off return with a 98-yard return. Shine finished with 105 tackles, one interception, one blocked field goal and four pass deflections. Carter finished with 94 tackles, two interceptions, six pass deflections and one caused fumble.
The Senators placed 10 players — offensive guard-defensive tackle Cooper, defensive back Andrew Gutierrez, Shine, kick returner Thurman, running back Nevin Elliott, Carter, tight end Chase Blueberg, wide receiver Alan Cohen, kicker Stefan Sobkiewicz and defensive end Ryan Doherty — on the all-Sierra League first team. Seven players — offensive tackle Aaron Cowee, defensive back Aaron Perez, running back Thurman, guard Maurilio Oliveras, wide receiver Dilyn Rooker, linebacker-punter Sobkiewicz, and linebacker Cody Cunningham — were named to the second team. Five more — quarterback Garrett Schafer, center Noah Teixeira, defensive tackles Brady Rivera and Jesse Knight, and offensive tackle Josue Orozco were named honorable mention.
Gutierrez led the team with four interceptions, and he also finished with 64 tackles. Sobkiewicz was second on the team with 107 tackles plus two sacks, and he averaged 35 yards a punt, kicked five field goals and had 31 PATs. Doherty had 36 tackles and led the team with five sacks. Cunningham had a team-leading 120 tackles to go along with two sacks and a blocked punt. Rivera, who played linebacker and defensive tackle, had 90 tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery and two caused fumbles. Knight, who started the year on the offensive side of the ball before moving to defensive tackle, had 22 tackles. Perez had the huge interception for a score against Douglas and he also had 55 tackles.
Elliott moved into the fullback spot after Colby Brown suffered a season-ending knee injury in summer camp, and was an absolute beast. He rushed for 1,040 yards and 14 scores, and he also caught seven passes for 76 yards and a score. Thurman rushed for 901 yards and 11 scores, and he also caught 20 passes for 297 yards and three TDs. Cohen, in his first year of varsity football, led the team with 29 catches for 461 yards and a team-best six receiving TDs. Rooker, who had a 100-yard receiving game this year, caught 19 balls for 397 yards and two scores. Blueberg came on strong in the last half of the season and finished with 12 catches. Schafer threw for 1,744 yards and 19 scores. Cowee, Oliveras, Orozco, Teixeira and Cooper were the glue that held the team together. Once that group started working together, Carson dominated the line of scrimmage.
The two glaring slights if you will were Cowee not making the first team at tackle and Thurman being a second team running back. If there were a utility player in football, it would have been Thurman. He could hurt you with his arm, feet and hands, and he also played well in the secondary.
“It’s tough to get two running backs on the first team,” Roman said. “Joey was essentially unanimous as the kick returner. I was happy to see him get that.
“Aaron’s injury was the deciding factor. He essentially missed half the season, and the other two guys were three-year varsity players like he was. Had he been healthy, I think he would have been right up there for all-league and lineman of the year.”