The Port Arthur News
NEDERLAND – Carson Raines is 12-0 in his three-year varsity career as a starter in 20-4A games. He has a chance to go undefeated for two straight seasons if his Nederland Bulldogs can beat Lumberton this week and Central next week.
There are a lot of ways to evaluate quarterbacks, but winning is never a bad place to start.
“No 1, it’s the leadership factor he’s developed and the comfort level in the offense,” Nederland offensive coordinator Monte Barrow said. “He knows when to turn that on and when to lay back. We saw it last week and a couple of times this year. Teams will try to do things right before the snap, and he’s faking snap counts and trying to see what teams are doing. That’s all experience right there.”
In talking about players moving from their junior years to their senior season, the biggest thing coaches touch on as improvement is in the mental or preparation areas of football. For Raines, the senior quarterback and leader of the Bulldog offense, it’s been both about how close the offense is and how relaxed that group can be.
“It’s definitely a lot more mellow (this year),” Raines said. “Out there in the huddle, during games and in practice, things have been very smooth. We’ve just clicked out there. This group, I’ve been around for a long time. We’re just so close. The whole team is very loose, cracking jokes. We know the time to be serious, but we’re very loose. Before games, we used to be tensed up, but now we’re listening to music and much more relaxed in the locker room.”
Looking at Raines’ numbers, not much has changed from last season. He’s passing for more yards, rushing the ball more often and scoring a whole lot more running TDs. He’s also winning games in bunches still, but that’s all a product of his work off the field to get better.
This year, Raines has thrown for 988 yards and 10 TDs while completing 57.6 percent of his passes. Only one QB in 20-4A has been more efficient passing than Raines and that’s LC-M’s Caleb Harley. After last season, Raines and the coaching staff identified some of his weaknesses, like pocket presence and scrambling ability. Raines worked on that relentlessly in the offseason and it has paid off handsomely.
“Last year, they preached about it a little bit, but not much,” Raines said. “This year, they’ve stressed it a bunch. I enjoy running the ball, so I’ve been pretty happy about it. Just being out there and wanting to run the ball has helped. With all of us on offense, it’s just clicks. When you want it to happen, sitting there daydreaming about it during school, it can work out.”
Barrow pointed out that Raines’ pocket presence developing is even something he can’t really coach. It’s a feel that comes from a QB maturing into his role.
“He’s gotten to where he feels the rush instead of seeing it,” Barrow said. “I don’t know if you can teach that in practice. It just comes with experience over time. You just see it start developing in games, and he’s definitely done that this year.”
One of the focuses for Raines heading into the season was for him to improve as a runner. Raines is one of the fastest players on the team, but last year, the Nederland coaching staff was still feeling the sting of the 2010 season. That’s when Nederland used four different starters at QB, and that wasn’t a place they wanted to return.
“He hasn’t shied away from pulling it down and running or taking it when we’ve called a run, which we have done more often this year,” Barrow said. “Last year, we were following the year when a quarterback went down every other week. Everyone was a little gun shy, but we talked about it and decided if we’re going to push our chips in this season, we need to have it all out there and him running is a part of that.”
Raines is thriving in his new role. He’s only rushed for 148 yards this season, but has nine rushing TDs. Most of those came in short yardage as he and feature back Kendrick Hopkins have a friendly rivalry on who gets in the end zone.
“It’s all in good fun,” Barrow said. “Kendrick will come running off the field after Carson scores and say, ‘You’re welcome.’ Carson and I kid him that if he hadn’t gotten tackled at the one, he could have scored. We joke around about it, but it’s just one of those things that happen. No one really worries about it.”
This week, Raines’ experience will be put to the test as he goes up against a Lumberton team that loves disguising coverage. That makes preparation tough, but having played against them a number of times, Raines feels ready to make the right reads Friday night.
“(The Raiders) do a really good job of disguising coverage,” Raines said. “It’s really hard to pick up sometimes. But, you can catch them off-guard by doing a fake cadence and reading their eyes. It’s hard, even coach can’t do it all the time. I’ve seen them a lot now. You just have to prepare for it and try to recognize it during the game.”
BULLDOG BITES: The son of Ramon and Darla Raines, Carson was in the Port Neches-Groves school system at one time, but transferred over to Nederland and C.O. Wilson before seventh grade. … Raines said he’s gotten numerous letters from colleges, but nothing significant yet. He’s still weighing his options, which may include baseball, and is undecided on what he’d like to go to college to study. … Raines has scored rushing TDs this season, he’s thrown for TDs and against PN-G, he almost caught one. Raines caught a pass on a QB throwback play that he said should have gone for a touchdown. He was held to a 22-yard gain and was tackled by Dalton Peveto and Corbin Coy at the PN-G 37. … Nederland’s 35-0 shutout of Beaumont Ozen was the first shutout for the Bulldogs since last season against Lumberton. The Bulldog defense has now had three shutouts in its last 15 games. That’s as many shutouts as Nederland had in its previous six seasons over 62 games. … Junior back Kendrick Hopkins became the third back in 20-4A to break 1,000 yards this season. He still trails district leader Montana Quirante of Vidor by 220 yards and second-place Alex Sezer of LC-M by 123 yards.
Five Questions with Carson Raines
Who’s your favorite band? Randy Rogers Band
What’s your favorite movie? Dumb and Dumber
Do you have a secret talent? Blowing bubbles
Do you have any pets? If so, what? Two dogs, Bella is a German Shepherd and Kelly is a schnauzer
If you could play another position, what would it be? Receiver.