Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sixth shutout sends Carey into semi-finals

Panthers (9-1) whip Richfield 48-0 in home finale

Express Staff Writer

Carey sophomore Gonzalo Zarate (13 carries, 93 yards) sheds a Richfield tackler during Saturday?s State 1A Division 2 playoff game won by Carey 48-0 over visiting Richfield. Zarate found a little more daylight in the second half with carries of 21, 16 and 18 yards as the Panthers broke it open.Express photos by Paulette Phlipot

The Richfield Tigers have come a long way on the football field after 0-9 seasons in 2006 and 2005, but the State 1A Division 2 eight-man playoffs are a completely different animal.

Winners of four straight games to make the state 1A eight-man playoffs for the first time since 2004, Richfield got a taste of Carey's formula for gridiron success Saturday on a mild November afternoon at Derrick Parke Memorial Field.

Patience, balance on offense, execution at the line of scrimmage, depth, eight seniors and an unyielding defense are the factors that have taken coach Lane Kirkland's Carey Panthers to the verge of defending their state football title.

Carey needed all of those weapons Saturday. After an intense and hard fought first quarter, Carey (9-1) scored 22 points in the second and rolled 48-0 over Richfield (5-5) in the quarterfinals of the State 1A Division 2 playoffs at Carey.

Having finished their home field on a winning note, the Panthers now play Dietrich (7-2) Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at Holt Arena in Pocatello—the same field where Carey won the third state football championship in school history last Nov. 17 over Salmon River.

The Richfield clash was the first step back to the title game.

"It was a hard-fought game, a great competitive first half," said Kirkland. "We never underestimate Richfield. They've really improved a lot and (Tiger coach) Garr Ward prepared his team well. But our kids stepped up and were mentally tough. Football isn't always easy, and today's game was a good example of that."

Winning their eighth consecutive game, Kirkland's top-ranked defending State 1A Division 2 champ Panthers wore down Richfield's defense with 244 rushing yards and 253 passing yards. The Carey defense came up with five turnovers—three pass thefts and two fumble recoveries on the day.

It was Carey's sixth shutout and sixth 45-point mercy rule victory. The game ended with 5:01 left to play in the fourth.

Probably the best player on the gridiron Saturday was junior Heith Adamson, in his first full game since coming back from an ankle injury. Adamson led the defense with 12 tackles, many of them tough sticks at the line, and also scored two big TDs that increased Carey's lead from 12-0 to 28-0 at half.

Kirkland said, "Heith is a force. He's a hard runner, an outstanding blocker and he did a good job on defense. He has a great desire to play football and be rough out there."

Adamson led a Panther defense that took over the game after the tight first quarter.

The closest Richfield came to scoring was in the first quarter. Trailing by only 6-0, the Tigers moved 60 yards in 12 plays before tackles by Adamson and sophomore Trevor Peck and two incomplete passes stalled the drive at the Carey five.

Carey answered with its best drive of the season, a 13-play, 95-yard scoring attack covering five minutes. It featured three catches by senior Scott Ellsworth (5 catches for 142 yards) including a nine-yard touchdown pass from senior QB D.J. Simpson (9-for-18, 218 yards, 3 TDs plus 50 rushing).

That made it 12-0. And Richfield's next seven possessions in the second and third quarters went south after its promising start to the contest.

Carey's defense stopped Richfield three-and-out twice, then intercepted two passes, recovered a fumble and picked off another pass. Meanwhile the Panther offense hiked the lead to 36-0 and it was time for Carey's junior varsity to finish.

Meanwhile, the Carey offense prospered sparked by the game's pivotal play, a 59-yard touchdown pass from D.J. Simpson to Adamson just before halftime for a 28-0 score.

Adamson, who had run over three Tiger tacklers on his first TD run four minutes before, lined up in the slot and sprinted downfield on a post pattern. Simpson rifled a perfect lead pass and Adamson had daylight all the way home.

Speedy sophomore Gonzalo Zarate (13 carries, 93 yards) and senior Blake Whitby (9-for-68, 1 TD) paced the Carey running attack and sophomore back-up QB Dillon Simpson tossed his second TD pass in the fourth period, to soph Trevor Peck. On defense Simpson had two interceptions while Adamson (12) and Whitby (9) led the tacklers.

Richfield sophomore running back Michael Lezamiz burned Carey's bend-but-not-break defense for a game-high 162 yards on 16 carries. Lezamiz (200 all-purpose yards) also had a game-high 15 tackles.

Check the Web site for Carey game stats and a composite score through 10 games, and also see the Nov. 21 Local Life edition for more of Paulette Phlipot's photos from Saturday's Carey-Richfield game.

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