Carson clinches share of league championship
RENO — Shutouts have been few and far between for the Carson Senators during the Blair Roman era.
Carson posted its second straight shutout and wrapped up no worse than a co-Sierra League championship by virtue of its 34-0 demolishing of Galena Friday night.
The Senators, who have won four straight, improved to 6-2 overall and 3-0 in league play. Galena dropped to 1-7 overall and 0-2.
“I’m so happy for the kids,” said Roman, who has five league or conference titles under his belt in seven seasons on the job. “I’m really happy for this senior class. This team is getting better.
“I think the defense did a tremendous job tonight. They were put in a couple of tough spots. Nolan (Shine) had the interception and we got one or two stops. That was the key to the game.”
The last time Carson posted back-to-back shutouts was during the 2011 season when it stopped North Valleys, 45-0, on Sept. 16 and then battered Hug, 54-0, on Sept. 23. In 2009, Carson posted three shutouts in one season. The Senators could match that mark against Douglas on Nov. 7.
Carson’s defense, led by Brady Rivera, Shine, Ian Schulz and Cameron Radtke, forced two turnovers and yielded just 255 total yards. Rivera pressured Galena quarterback Sonny Robison all night, and although Robison made some plays, he certainly got out of his rhythm.
It appears the Senators are playing with a lot more aggressiveness since Shine has been installed at middle linebacker full time. The unit seems to be in attack mode more often during games.
“He’s extremely aggressive.” said outside linebacker Ikela Lewis, who had a fourth-down pass deflection to stall a Galena drive and recovered a fumble. “Having a beast like that is huge. You saw him against Manogue making all those plays.”
The offense had its moments, too, scoring on five of its 11 possessions. Asa Carter had his best offensive game and his first 100-yard game. The junior wingback rushed seven times for 118 yards, including scoring runs of 16 and 76 yards, respectively.
The Senators drove 77 yards on 11 plays and two penalties, both of which netted first downs. Carter capped the drive with a 16-yard run. Johnny Barahona’s PAT made it 7-0.
That set the stage for the first of many big sequences for the Carson defense.
Sonny Robinson hit big pass plays of 36 and 23 yards to move the ball to the Carson 11. Three plays later, Shine stepped in front of a pass intended for Quintin Mills in the end zone and brought it all the way out to his own 28.
“They lined up in trips to my side,” Shine said. “We were in a zone with seven across. The third guy came across. I read the quarterback and jumped it.”
Carson was unable to capitalize, turning the ball over on downs at the Galena 22 when Joe Nelson threw an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-3 play.
The Senators avoided disaster midway through the second quarter when Carter bobbled the snap on fourth down. He scrambled to his right and got off a kick which went just 2 yards, giving the Grizzlies great field position at the Carson 22. Time for the defense to step up again.
On second-and-6 from the Carson 18, Alec Van Key fumbled the ball on a reverse. Ikela Lewis recovered for Carson.
“That was just a gift from God,” Lewis said. “The ball came right up in my hands. I tried to go, but got pulled down.”
Carson started the drive on its own 35, and went 65 yards on eight plays as Colby Brown (77 yards rushing) capped the drive with the first of his two scores, a 3-yard run to make it 13-0.
The Senators opened the second half with an impressive 80-yard drive capped by Brown’s impressive 39-yard run on a toss play. Barahona’s PAT made it 20-0 with 8:54 left in the third quarter.
Galena mounted another drive into Carson’s red zone, but a sack by Lewis and a deflection by Brandon Maffei forced the Grizzlies to go for a field goal. Mills’ 26-yard effort came up five yards short.
Two plays later, Carter broke loose for his 76-yard scoring run.
“Connor (Pradere) I think got a good block and then Elijah (Fajayan) got a really good block and I was able to get to the sideline,” Carter said.
The Senators’ defense came up with another big stop late in the third quarter at the 25. Robison’s fourth-down pass was dropped.
Carson completed the scoring with 2:48 to go when Shine scored on a 1-yard run after Galena’s Mills got off just a 4-yard punt.
“We’re playing together as a unit,” Lewis said. “Everybody is doing their job. We need to kep doing that.”