Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Carey ready to fire up the football offense

Panthers are primed to come out cooking

Express Staff Writer

What's next after an eight-man football season during which your team sets a school scoring record of 50.8 points per game, wins eight games and returns to the playoffs?

That's pretty successful stuff and the loss of eight seniors from that 2005 Panther football team is significant.

But if you're Carey School coach Lane Kirkland, you just go back to the barbecue, fire up the offense and get ready to come out smoking for yet another succulent campaign.

Sixth-year Panther coach Kirkland (32-13) has some concerns with rebuilding his interior offensive and defensive lines. On the other hand, Kirkland and defensive coordinator Lee Cook have flexibility with veterans everywhere else.

"We're going to miss Tyler Cook (26 TD passes, 82 points) at quarterback, but we're faster than last year in all positions and that will help us," Kirkland said. "We'll run the football a little more and develop our passing game as the season goes on."

Carey kicks off its nine-game 2006 campaign Friday, Aug. 25 with a 7 p.m. road game against the Sho-Ban Chiefs at Fort Hall. Sho-Ban (4-4) lost 58-12 at Carey last Sept. 16 but the Chiefs scored a lot of points and won their final three games.

The last time Carey visited Fort Hall, in Oct. 2003, resulted in a 22-20 Sho-Ban triumph that snapped a 10-game Chiefs' losing streak to Carey.

"Sho-Ban is going to be big. We'll try to get a quick block and get them turned," said Kirkland about Sho-Ban's traditional size advantage.

The next week it's on to last year's State 1A Division 1 semi-finalist Raft River (8-2) Friday, Sept. 1 at Malta before Carey ends up with five of its final seven games at home.

Important games for Carey will be early on—Camas County on Sept. 8—and also late—North Gem Oct. 20. Fortunately both are home games at Derrick Parke Memorial Field.

Kirkland said, "Camas is a key game to get our season rolling. A lot of our big conference games are home this year. That should help us."

Last year Carey (8-2) won the Sawtooth Conference West title with a 60-32 victory over Camas County (7-3) at Fairfield but lost big at Mackay 50-14 and at home to North Gem 48-44 in the first round of the State 1A Division 2 playoffs last Nov. 5.

Mackay (11-0, 51.6 ppg) went on to beat North Gem 54-19 in the state semi-finals and the Miners then handled Horseshoe Bend 34-22 in the State 1A Division 2 championship game last Nov. 18 in Boise.

And Mackay with its 6-6 senior quarterback Kelvin Krosch is also coming to Carey this year, Sept. 29.

By that time, junior quarterback D.J. Simpson should have some seasoning with the Panther offense and the coaching staff should have a lot better of an idea about their linemen.

"A year of growing has made quite a difference with D.J. and he's been on target with his passes since we started practicing," said Kirkland, who welcomed 28 players to this year's pre-season camp including six seniors and 10 freshmen.

The coach noted with a laugh that Simpson is one of Carey's most talented actors in drama class, which should help in his football feints.

Second-team All-League running back Cody Baird (17 TDs, 118 points) led Carey in scoring last season and he's one of five returning seniors from last year's roster. Others are James Carlson, Brad Hunt, Jesus Ocampo and Allen Peck. A sixth senior is Nathan Lichuk.

Baird and Peck along with juniors Connor Rivera (11 TDs, 80 points) and Blake Whitby give Carey speed in the backfield. All can be used on the ends, as receivers. Other receivers are Carlson, junior Scott Ellsworth and of course Brad Hunt.

Add up all the veterans, and you can see that Kirkland has plenty of fresh bodies in skill positions and you often need reserves in a long season.

Injured in Carey's sixth game last season at Mackay and sidelined for the rest of the season, Hunt nevertheless caught passes totaling 518 yards and was named first-team All-Sawtooth at end. Kirkland said, "It's nice to have Brad back from the knee injury. He's looking strong already."

Carey's offensive and defensive lines are works in progress, which is why coaches Kirkland and Cook employed a series of long drives and grind-it-out football during Carey's Blue-Gold scrimmage won by the Blue team 28-20 in two 40-minute halves Friday. "It was a lot of fun and very competitive," Kirkland said.

Among the top line candidates are Ocampo at left guard, junior Tyler Parke at center and sophomore Wulf Lebrecht at right. "We're pretty slim as far as our line guys go," said Kirkland, who lost 300-pound sophomore Dan Wilson (moved to Twin Falls) and junior Jordan Surerus (knee).

The defense will "have some experienced players at every position," Kirkland said. He added, "We don't have a lot of 180-pound guys running around Carey so we work a lot on tackling and wrapping up, though we're always been good hitters here."

Players like Baird, Peck, Whitby, Simpson, Ellsworth and Hunt should comprise a solid last line of defense in the linebacking corps and secondary. A key position in eight-man football is defensive end. The coaches are still looking for the right player to make that important point of penetration, possibly Ocampo or Parke.

The punter will be either James Carlson or Brad Hunt.

Other players on the roster are juniors Kyle Brooks, Kade Peterson and Justin Dilworth; sophomores Jared Cenarrusa, Heith Adamson and 232-pound Andrew Carlson; and freshmen Todd Peck, Brad Peck, Dillon Simpson, Trevor Peck, Tyler Chavez, Gonzalo Zarate, Brett Adamson, Jesse Robinson and Wacey Barg. First-year assistant coach is Lane Durtschi.

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