Carter to rely on suffocating defense

Carter’s run to its first winning season since 2006 and its second straight playoff berth last year was predicating on a stifling defense that held opponents to a scant 11.9 points per game. So the Lions’ opponents should be a little worried about Carter coach Alex Pierce’s thoughts on that unit heading into his fourth season at the helm.

“We were one of the best defenses in the division last year, if not the best,” Pierce said. “And we’re going to be better this year.”

The reason for that confidence is eight returning starters to a swarming, relentless unit that almost held Arroyo Valley to negative yards in a win-or-go-home regular-season finale last year. Leading the way is junior defensive tackle Kenny Clark (6-2, 278), a national-champion heavyweight wrestler and a starter on the offensive line as well.

“If there’s a better defensive tackle in the county than Kenny, I really hope we don’t have to face them,” Pierce said. “Kenny is quick, strong, relentless, never gets tired. He’s got very good grades and is going to be a big-time recruit.”

Clark isn’t alone on the Carter defense, as senior defensive end Brandon Chellette (6-1, 230) and senior linebacker Daniel Castro (5-11, 225) return on the front seven. Carter is loaded with experience in the secondary as well, with Kris Brown (5-9, 175) coming back at strong safety while seniors Khayree Sanders (5-9, 186) and Doug Daniels (5-9, 190) alternating at free safety as well as running back.

Offensively, Carter suffered a blow when quarterback Bryan Harper – who committed to the University of Washington over the summer as an athlete – transferred to Colony. But the blow wasn’t as severe as it could have been, as Harper missed much of last season with a collarbone. Junior Brandon DeGelia (6-0, 172) will take the reins this year.

Sanders and Daniels will share duties at running back for the Lions, with Brown and Khalil Sanders (5-9, 172) serving as DeGelia’s primary receivers in the spread offense.

Carter schedule (Home games in CAPS, * indicates league game)

Sept. 9: at Chaffey
Sept. 16: vs. Silverado (Victor Valley HS)
Sept. 23: LAKE ELSINORE LAKESIDE
Sept. 30: ARROYO VALLEY*
Oct. 7: COLTON*
Oct. 14: at San Gorgonio*
Oct. 21: at Pacific*
Oct. 28: RIALTO*
Nov. 4: at San Bernardino*
Nov. 10: CAJON*