Carter expects improvement in year two under Pierce

I’ve gotten a bit sidetracked between covering games, working on features, doing rankings and an assignment covering the Angels tonight, but I haven’t forgot about the rest of the teams I haven’t previewed. There are a few I still haven’t gotten to that start this week, starting with Carter.

The Lions came into 2008 having earned playoff berths in 2006 and 2007, the third and fourth years of the program. But the 2007 Lions, despite having a lot of senior talent, underachieved with a fourth-place finish and corresponding 4-7 record, causing head coach Brian Kidd to be removed.

In his stead came Alex Pierce, an assistant of current Riverside North coach Scott Pearne at Yucaipa. Pierce brought the spread offense over to Carter and like with most implementations of that offense, the first year saw the Lions struggle to a 2-8 record and an average of 17.8 points per game.

Even though the Lions lose most of their starters from a year ago, there’s a lot of confidence in year two under Pierce. A lot of that confidence comes from a Citrus Belt League that is wide open after Redlands East Valley, the familiarity that comes from being in the system and the unlimited, if not somewhat raw, talent at Pierce’s disposal.

Senior running back Damian Robinson, who ran for 447 yards and three touchdowns while catching 16 passes for 124 yards, will be a key cog in the Lion attack. But much of the focus will be on sophomore quarterback Bryan Harper. Harper, a transfer from Etiwanda, possesses the dual-threat capability to make Pierce’s offense go.

Defensively, the Lions had their moments last year, but will be looking for a more consistent effort this year. Robinson and Calvin Stewart provide athleticism and experience at linebacker while Ryan Coleman will captain the secondary at safety. Coleman will also see some time at wide receiver for the Lions, who have a golden opportunity to get back on the playoff track.

Carter’s schedule (Home games in CAPS, league games with *)

Sept. 11 – vs. Alta Loma (Chaffey College)
Sept. 18 – RANCHO CUCAMONGA
Sept. 25 – at Riverside Norte Vista
Oct. 2 – at Redlands*
Oct. 9 – EISENHOWER*
Oct. 16 – at Rialto*
Oct. 23 – MILLER*
Oct. 30 – vs. Redlands East Valley (U of Redlands)*
Nov. 6 – FONTANA*
Nov. 13 – at Yucaipa*