Carroll made easy work of Homestead Friday in the opening game of the Class 6A Sectional 3 playoffs with a 49-7 victory. The win was the Chargers' second over the Spartans this season after ending a losing streak in the series that dated back to 2003.
Here is how Coach Doug Dinan's team did it.
1. Took what Homestead gave them.
When East Noble and New Haven beat Carroll earlier this season, they capitalized on mistakes while making the Chargers go the full length of the field on long drives. The Spartans attempted to do the same and for the most part succeeded, but Carroll was patient and grinded out scoring drives, wearing down Homestead physically and mentally.
2. Justin Tranquill.
The junior running back did it all on Friday, accounting for a school-record 254 yards rushing and three touchdowns and adding 72 yards receiving. He was everywhere on Friday night. While Homestead made a point to focus on shutting down brother Drue Tranquill, Justin proved he is just as big of a handful.
3. Responding quickly.
Homestead opened some eyes with a 99-yard touchdown drive to open the game. But Carroll responded with a long drive of its own on its first possession of the contest to tie it up. The Chargers' defense stiffened and Homestead never threatened to score again. Not allowing a debilitating drive get them down, Carroll shook off the early Spartans touchdown and dominated.
4. Lack of mistakes.
Carroll limited the penalties and did not turn the ball over once on Friday night. Giving the Spartans any type of positive momentum without them earning it was going to be a key if Homestead had chance to pull the upset. The Chargers did not oblige and ended the Spartans' season.
5. Kickoff coverage.
The game began on a kickoff return that should have been called a safety, but instead was placed at Homestead's own 1-foot line. The Spartans struggled on kickoff returns all night, but Carroll was a big part of that. Good ball placement on the kickoffs was one reason, as well as spectacular coverage. A big play in special teams could have given Homestead some hope, but the Chargers never allowed it to happen.