After a disappointing loss last week and missing its starting tailback due to injury, Central Valley needed someone to step up big against a tough, familiar foe.
How about one of the smallest guys on the field?
Chad Carlson – listed at 5-foot-7, 160 pounds – carried the load for the Bears, and then some.
Carlson rushed 21 times for 158 yards to move the chains, Carsen Raab caught two touchdown passes and the Bears rebounded from a lopsided home loss to Coeur d’Alene to beat Mt. Spokane 27-7 in nonleague play at Albi Stadium on Friday.
“He is just a stud,” CV coach Ryan Butner said of Carlson. “He’s been that way all four years for us, just quietly just been in the back side and was waiting for his opportunity. He’s a great player on both sides of the football.”
“Carlson did really good,” CV quarterback Matt Gabbert said. “Having to fill (Ryan) Harper’s shoes is pretty big and Chad has done that very well.”
“Harper is a great running back,” Carlson said. “But when he goes down, we need someone to take his spot. When he comes back, we’ll just have two (running backs), so we’ll get a good rotation and keep us fresh.”
Gabbert finished 16 of 21 for 246 yards with three TD passes.
Mt. Spokane’s Kannon Katzer had another big day, rushing 25 times for 237 yards, but CV managed to allow Katzer only one trip to the end zone – on a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“I mean, you’re not going to stop the kid,” Butner said of Katzer. “He’s an incredible running back. But we felt like we had a bead on him.”
The way the Greater Spokane League schedule was set this season, Week 6 was a slate of nonleague games between 4A and 3A schools. That schedule happened to produce a marquee matchup between teams ranked in the top 10 in their respective state Associated Press poll.
CV entered play ranked No. 8 in the state 4A poll, while Mt. Spokane was ranked fifth in 3A, both averaging more than 25 points per game.
Butner played down the midseason rankings.
“Nobody from the West Side ever watches us,” Butner said, “and we don’t watch anybody from the West Side, so we don’t really know about those rankings until the end of the year. I think we’re two really good programs. I think they’re two well-coached teams.”
CV (5-1) took the 35-13 drubbing by the Vikings the previous week to heart.
“Last week was just, it just wasn’t us,” Butner said. “And so this week we wanted to get back to be executing better and simplifying our game plan on the offensive side and just executing correctly. And we did a much better job with that today.”
“It definitely woke us up a little bit, just because going into the Coeur d’Alene game 4-0 and losing like that isn’t something you take lightly,” Gabbert said. “It definitely put a spark back under us.”
Mt. Spokane (4-2) had little trouble on its first possession, with Katzer ripping off runs of 20 and 17 yards, but the drive stalled at the CV 16. On the Wildcats’ next drive, Jeter Schuerman tried to hit Tommy Madill on a skinny post, but Carlson made a diving interception at the 12.
Carlson broke off a 17-yard run to give the Bears some room, then broke through the line for 13 yards to get to the Wildcats’ 12. An incomplete pass and delay of game penalty set up fourth-and-8 at the 11, where Landon Rehkow drilled a 28-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
On the next drive, Katzer got to the outside for a big gain but was stripped inside the CV 10. The ball went through the end zone for a touchback.
Carlson went for 15 yards and Gabbert connected with Carter Childress for 21 down to the Mt. Spokane 20. On third-and-goal from the 13, Gabbert hit Raab on a slant and the 6-3, 190-pound receiver dragged a defender into the end zone to make it 10-0.
After Mt. Spokane missed a 52-yard field goal, Carlson broke off a 51-yard run. Two plays later, Gabbert found Raab on a diving catch in the right corner to lift the Bears to a 17-0 lead with 3:36 in the third.
Mt. Spokane tried some trickery on fourth-and-1 at its 40, snapping it to upback Connor Marll in punt formation. But Marll got caught up in the line and was tackled just short of the yard to gain.
Gabbert had a 1-yard TD called back on a holding penalty and settled for a 30-yard field goal by Rehkow and a 20-0 lead with 8:52 left.
Katzer got Mt. Spokane on the board. He busted up the middle on third-and-1 for a 33-yard TD to make it 20-7 with 7:34 to go.
But Gabbert hit Cole Vinson on a short out. He slipped a tackle and went 77 yards to push the lead back to 20 with 6:45 left.
Both teams get back to games against rivals in their own classifications next week: CV has a showdown against Mead in the late game at Albi on Friday, while Mt. Spokane faces Rogers in the early game on Thursday.
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