Carson High's offensive unit has gotten the bulk of the headlines this year for the team's 9-1 record and rightfully so, but the coaches believe that the defense deserves more credit than it has received.
Entering Friday's second-round playoff game against visiting Bishop Manogue, the Senators are allowing 17.7 points per game, which is the seventh-best scoring defensive average in the state. The unit is also a plus-19 in the takeaway-giveaway stat.
"We've been opportunistic," Carson defensive coordinator Jim Franz said. "We've been able to get a lot of turnovers this year and we've cashed in a lot. When you have numbers like that it usually means you're having success.
"The kids are working hard and have given us great effort."
Despite the gaudy win-loss record, the coaching staff continues to make changes, maybe more than expected from a team that has won nine straight games since the opening week debacle in Idaho against Highland.
Three weeks ago, Luke Maher moved into the middle linebacker slot, and is now a two-way starter. Chance Quilling was moved to his old linebacker spot from the middle, Logan Peternell was moved from inside linebacker to defensive end as was Patrick Hesse, who started the season at outside linebacker.
Carson, which shut out North Valleys and Hug earlier this year, played one of its best halves of football last week against Damonte Ranch when it forced three turnovers and held the Mustangs scoreless. Peternell was in on 15 tackles, one of his best games in his three-year varsity career.
"We haven't made that many (changes)," Carson head coach Blair Roman. "Luke has actually been 'repping' at linebacker all year. He just wasn't ready to go both ways yet. We put Chance back at his old spot. Patrick is the only one who truly has moved, and we're anxious to see how that works out.
"I don't think it's abnormal. We're at a point where we're trying to get the best 11 players. It's all about winning the game."
True enough. Roman and Franz know that defense ultimately wins championships at any level, hence the mixing and matching recently. They are matching up based on the opponent and what they see on film study, according to Roman.
"It's been tough (this year)," Franz said. "We're trying to find the right pieces to make us better. Some weeks a kid has stepped up and we've given him a shot."
In five of Carson's 10 games, the team has allowed 17 points or less. Against Spanish Springs (57-14) and Damonte Ranch (44-17), Carson allowed just two TDs and Galena just one TD (35-10). Only once has Carson allowed more than 30 points, and that was in the season-opening 34-0 loss.
There have been times, however, when Carson appears to be getting pushed around at times, and has trouble getting off the field on third downs.
"I don't think we've been pushed around," Roman said. "There are games where we've given up a lot of yardage.
"We've always had the bend don't break philosophy. We haven't given up a lot of big plays this year."
Franz added, "We haven't given up hardly any one or two-play touchdown drives. We're forcing people to drive the ball on us."