Two former Carson High football stars who were teammates in the late 1990s are the newest members of the Carson High Football Hall of Fame.
David Krueger, the 1998 Gatorade Nevada Player of the Year and 1999 graduate, is being honored along with Justin Mitchell, a 1998 graduate.
Both played for former head coach Bob Bateman, the current athletic director at Carson.
Krueger was a three-year letterwinner at Carson. He was an all-league performer his junior and senior year and was all-state his senior season.
The 6-foot-2 205-pound Krueger scored more than 50 TDs in his CHS career and gained more than 1,000 yards rushing each of his last two seasons. He averaged more than nine yards a carry as a senior.
“He was 205 pounds of speed and punishment,” said Roman, an assistant on the CHS staff. “He was unbelievable frankly. He’s the best athlete I’ve ever coached, better than Dylan (Sawyers).”
Krueger has the distinction of being the last Carson football player to receive a full ride scholarship, earning an offer from Utah State.
Krueger said he hadn’t been back to Carson for 10 or 11 years. He and his wife, the former Denise Crowl, have a 7-year-old child (Kellan). They live in Missoula, Mont.
Mitchell said Krueger almost ended up not playing his senior season.
“I was questioning my commitment to the sport,” Krueger said. “My dad died when I was a sophomore after football season. We were living in a resort. I was working 40 hours a week and going to school. I know he would have wanted me to play.
“I also knew there was no way I was going to be able to afford college outside of getting a scholarship.”
Krueger said his rangy build may have helped. He said teams underestimated his speed because of his build, and he was able to avoid or run through would-be tacklers all year in leading the Senators to a 7-3 record.
He played well enough to get an offer to Utah State, but when he got to Logan, different coaches were in place, and Krueger was essentially told he wasn’t going to play.
“There were 19 guys on full rides (that were brought in), and I think he cut 18,” Krueger said. “They told me I would never step foot on the field. They told me they had to honor my scholarship for one year. I left at the end of the year and transferred to Dixie State (a junior college).”
Krueger said he ended up in Montana by accident.
“I’d never been to Montana before,” Krueger said. “We drove up (from Utah) to go fly fishing. We loved it. We went back home, packed our stuff and moved to Montana. We didn’t have jobs or a place to stay.”
Krueger worked in law enforcement for 8 ½ years. During the last part of his career he ended up in narcotics.
“It was shift work,” he said. “I knew if I stayed, I’d never have a chance to coach my son’s soccer or football or baseball teams.”
Now, he and his wife have a small business and employ about 80 people.
The then 6-foot-1 275-pound Mitchell led the Senators to an 8-3 record in 1997. The Senators lost twice to eventual state champion McQueen that year.
Mitchell played center on offense and nose guard on defense.
“He was the glue and centerpiece of our line that year,” Roman said. “He was one of the most physical linemen I’ve ever coached at Carson.”
And, Mitchell is a proud honoree. He’s married to the former Nikki Fisher, a former cheerleader at Carson. The couple has three children — Anela, Kekoa and Niko.
“It’s a really great honor not only for myself but for my family,” Mitchell said. “I have three kids and they will all go through Carson High. Hopefully this will give them some inspiration.
“I didn’t even know they had a Hall of Fame. Carson High football provided me a great opportunity in my life.”
Mitchell credits Bateman for getting him on the right track during the early years in high school.
“When I got to Carson High, I didn’t hang out with the greatest of people,” Mitchell said. Mitchell admits he didn’t put out much as a freshman.
“Coach Bateman was the varsity coach, and he told me I’d never play for him, and I wanted to prove him wrong. I hit the weights hard that summer and got bigger and stronger. I was more dominant on the field.”
After gaining all-state honors in 1997, Mitchell went to Cal State Bakersfield. His football career was cut short by a neck/spine injury his sophomore year.
He collided with a defensive player and essentially suffered a disc injury.
“It (the herniated disc) was pressing against my spine,” Mitchell said. “The trainers kept me off the field for a week or so.
“When I came back I did the same thing and broke it in half.”
Mitchell eventually become a firefighter in Reno, a job he has held since 2003.
“I first started as an EMT,” Mitchell said. “In class, I was sitting next to a couple of firefighters. They told me I could be an EMT and a fireman as well.”
Mitchell said he’s followed CHS football a little bit, and has been impressed with the record Roman has forged in six short years.
“He’s done a great job with the program,” he said. “It’s been a bragging point for me at work. I’m a fireman in Reno, and I’m always talking about how Carson is doing.”