Kaneland freshman QB shines in debut
Troyer Carlson found out he was starting at quarterback for Kaneland midway through this week.
Carlson, a freshman, did not appear in last week's overtime loss to Sycamore. But he wasted no time to make his presence felt Saturday, throwing a 13-yard touchdown to Jack McIntire on Kaneland's first drive.
He hardly looked back.
Carlson threw four first-half touchdown passes, two to McIntire, as Kaneland rolled past visiting Sandwich 45-7 in the Interstate Eight Conference.
"[Carlson] was a basketball player, so we didn't get the chance to evaluate him that much," Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said. "We kind of had an idea after our fall contact days that it might be a possibility."
The 6-foot-1 Carlson threw a 32-yard TD pass to Sam Gagne, a 13-yard strike to Abe Guerrero and two to McIntire, the second coming from 35 yards out.
Corey Phillips added a 4-yard rushing TD and Aric Johnson had a 33-yard scoring run in the first half for a 42-0 Kaneland halftime lead.
Carlson, in his debut, was 10-for-12 for 181 yards with touchdowns on all six possessions.
"The way the IHSA calendar worked out, we said we couldn't go into week one with a freshman and not having him with the varsity to prepare," Ryan said. "We said that was an area we had to be better and I'm pleased with the way he played."
Game prep for Carlson was a fast process. Carlson got mental reps and got into the playbook as often as he could.
"I felt like I was [up to the challenge]," Carlson said. "It was a much faster-paced game, but I felt I was there."
McIntire, who had 88 receiving yards and his two TDs, was impressed.
"I think he really adapted well to the varsity pace of play," McIntire said. "Learning the plays well. We like having him around and he's a good kid."
Kaneland did simplify the playbook a little bit, but Carlson seemingly had little trouble with rhythm and timing on screens and processing the field.
"He was good," McIntire said. "During practice this week, we would practice on timing and getting him up to speed [plus] getting everyone else up to speed. [We were] trying to improve from last week."
While the offense clicked, Kaneland's starting defense dominated from the opening whistle.
Sandwich's first possession totaled zero yards on three rushes. The ensuing punt was blocked by Kaneland's Garrison Trebolo. The next Sandwich possession, quarterback Drew Theurer was sacked by Markus Suggs and a fumble was recovered by the Knights. Sandwich then punted its next four first half possessions. Kaneland's starting defense limited the Indians to 27 total yards.
"We've been playing together for awhile now. We have this bond. I mean, that's pretty special. We've got 11 seniors starting on defense," Knights linebacker Erik Teran said. "It comes with a lot of leadership from [defensive end] Sam [Pryor]. Sam brings a lot of intensity to it and we've just got guys stepping up and making plays."
Teran was coming off a 2-tackle performance against Sycamore. His production comes in part due to his preparation.
"It's a lot of film," Teran continued. "Film and knowing what to do watching our breakdown. We get [little scouting reports] so I read those a lot. And [I] just come focused."
"Having a guy like Sam, man, I love that kid to death," Teran said. "He takes up three blockers at a time sometimes. He's always getting double-teamed and it just makes my job a lot easier. That's how I'm able to perform: Because of him and the big guys up front."
The second half featured a running clock and the second-string defense. Sandwich punted its first possession and Kaneland freshman kicker Sebastian Chavez tacked on a 22-yard field goal for a 45-0 advantage.
"[The Kaneland defense is] huge; they're fast. They're very well-coached," Sandwich coach Kris Cassie said. "They're a 6A program. We're a 4, maybe 3A program. The message to our guys this week was just focus on our processes. Focus on our execution. Get some film on you guys and let's just work to get better."
"For the seniors, it's like, this is an experience you're going to talk about," Cassie continued. "This is what I consider an elite 6A program. Kaneland has such a rich tradition and history in football with a couple state titles. Coach Ryan and his staff just do such a fantastic job. It's an opportunity to go out there and test yourself against probably one of the best teams we're going to see. Period."