Carroll opens football season with win over Heights

Solid effort on defense paves way for Eagles’ victory

Published August 30 at 11:49 p.m. | Last updated Sep. 1 at 6:43 a.m.

That Bishop Carroll sophomore Josh Hornback was pulled aside for an interview following the Eagles’ 47-16 win over Heights Thursday night at South’s Carpenter Stadium was nerve-racking for the defensive back. He smiled nervously at an assistant coach when the questions started.

Hornback wasn’t only new to the interview process, but to starting. He was one of eight new starters for Carroll’s defense, a defense that certainly was the biggest question mark heading into the season for the No. 1-ranked team in Class 5A. The offense returned eight starters, including quarterback Zeke Palmer, who threw for more than 2,000 yards in 2011.

Hornback had two sacks and was part of a defense that forced five Heights fumbles, recovering three. Junior Nate Stallbaumer picked up a fumble late in the first quarter, scoring 12 yards later.

“The defense played well,” Carroll coach Alan Schuckman said. “A lot of big stops, a lot of big turnovers and also a scoop-and-score. That’s also huge. We talked about defensive turnovers. We haven’t gotten many in practice. They proved me wrong tonight, and the defense made it happen.”

The Carroll defense was shaky in the game’s opening minute, though.

Heights, which has four returning starters from its 2011 team that finished second in Class 6A., went seven yards on the first play by sophomore Curtis Whitten. Then senior Chris Reed, in his first start at quarterback, ran up the middle and burst out to the right side, juked the final defender and scored on a 48-yard run.

Carroll didn’t flinch. Derek Bongartz returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards and Palmer capped a seven-play drive with an eight-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-four play.

“We wanted to come out strong and physical, and we did that. First quarter, we were all focused and all in,” said Palmer, who was 7 of 8 passing for 83 yards in the first quarter. “… My receivers were doing a great job of getting open and the line was holding.”

Palmer celebrated his birthday on Thursday; his classmates sang “Happy birthday” to him at the school’s pep rally.

“He’s a special player,” Schuckman said. “I’ve been trying to tell a lot of people that.”

After Carroll’s defense forced Heights to punt after three plays, Palmer led Carroll on another scoring drive, capping a nine-play drive with a 25-yard pass to Matt Denning.

On Heights’ second play of its third series, Stallbaumer picked up Alan Garrett’s fumble. On Heights’ next possession, Reed fumbled and three plays later Carroll scored agin.

Carroll had a 28-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Palmer added his third touchdown, a seven-yard run, at the 9:22 mark of the second period.

“We spent most of the next three series (after the opening touchdown), putting the ball on the ground and making penalties,” Heights coach Rick Wheeler said. “We’re such a young, fragile team. We just didn’t respond well to adversity. We’re getting our teeth kicked in before we really know what’s going on.

“… Offensively, we just put the defense in such bad predicaments early. We got whipped in every aspect of the game, offense, defense, special teams.”

Carroll’s offense did little after that scoring burst over the first 15 minutes. Palmer finished 8 of 18 for 93 yards. Tory Smith had runs of 66 and 64, scoring on the latter. He finished with a game-high 167 yards on 11 carries.

“Our offense, just inconsistent,” Schuckman said. “We’ve got to shore it up…. The defense gave us some short fields. We were able to execute. Just our running game went flat in the second quarter and the third quarter, as well. We have to work on that.”

Heights’ offense made some key plays and moved the ball effectively at times. But the Falcons, who were missing senior back Toma King, who tore an anterior cruciate ligament, turned the ball over on downs four times.

Whitten scored Heights’ second touchdown on a 59-yard run with 6:26 remaining. He led Heights with 97 rushing yards.

Yet the Eagles never lost control. They tackled Heights for losses on 11 plays.

“We stopped the run pretty well,” Hornback said. He stopped, looked at a Carroll assistant and laughed nervously.

Nothing to be nervous about. Hornback and the rest of the Carroll defense proved that.

Carroll (1-0)28701247
Heights (0-1)6001016

H—Reed 48 run (missed kick)

BC—Palmer 8 run (Ohm kick)

BC—Denning 25 pass from Palmer (Hernandez kick)

BC—Stallbaumer 12 fumble return (Ohm kick)

BC—Smith 2 run (Ohm kick)

BC—Palmer 7 run (Ohm kick)

BC—Smith 65 run (missed kick)

H—Safety: Heights tackles Smith in end zone

H—Whitten 59 run (run failed)

BC—Hernandez 19 run (missed kick)

H—Safety: Heights tackled punter in end zone

Rushing — Carroll, Smith 11-167, Hernandez 11-85, Palmer 11-43, Goolsby 4-9, Weber 1-(-2), Skilling 2-(-10). Heights, Whitten 17-97, Reed 14-70, Wiley 4-41, Byrd 8-32, Garrett 13-26, King 3-12.

Passing — Carroll, Palmer 8-18-93-0. Heights, Reed 4-8-47-0.

Receiving — Carroll, Denning 4-49, Goolsby 1-21, Linnebur 1-10, Hernandez 1-7, Armstrong 1-6. Heights, Singleton 4-47.

Derby 27, Sal. South 14

Derby (1-0)0761427
Salina South (0-1)007714

D—Shantz 1 run (Moeder kick)

S—Nachbar 20 pass from Stonebraker (Weishaar kick)

D—West 9 run (kick failed)

S—Stonebraker 4 run (Weishaar kick)

D—Sims 30 pass from Shantz (Goolsby pass from Shantz)

D—Shantz 13 run (kick failed)

Individual statistics

Rushing — Derby, West 14-103, Shantz 18-92, Sims 4-20. Salina South, Busby 13-98, Jones 7-60, Stonebraker 19-58, team 2-(-16).

Passing — Derby, Shantz 5-11-88-0. Salina South, Stonebraker 10-16-123-2, Busby 0-1-0-0.

Receiving — Derby, Dunham 3-36, Sims 2-52. Salina South, Nachbar 6-99, Lauffer 2-21, Mar 1-4, Linton 1-(-1).

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