PENDLETON — The Marcus-to-Carlson connection just keeps growing.

Starpoint QB Carson Marcus and WR Joe Carlson both accounted for five touchdowns in the team’s 41-15 win over defending state runner-up West Seneca East. The victory is crucial for the Class A-2 playoff hunt, with the Spartans now sitting atop the standings at 3-0.

Carlson got the scoring going early, picking off WSE quarterback Brady Frys for a 90-yard touchdown return. He would not stop there, adding three more through the air to put the Spartans up 27-0 at the half. He would go on to add another receiving TD in the second half.

With his latest performance, Carlson is now the single-game record holder for TDs scored by a player in a Starpoint football game.

The senior playmaker believes in himself and his talents, and it showed with another big outing (7 receptions, 133 receiving yards, 29 rushing yards, 5 PAT kicks). It all starts from his “killer-instinct” mentality.

“That’s the mentality, you’ve gotta come into a football game saying no one's gonna stop you,” Carlson said. “That’s how you have to play in order to be great.”

Carlson also talked about the defensive performance, which held the Trojan offense down for most of the game, at least until Devare Mathis took things into his own hands in the second half (143 receiving yards, 89 rushing yards, 1 receiving TD).

Carlson said the team’s preparation during the week was key there, mentioning how the Spartans knew who WSE liked to get the ball to and what parts of the field it liked to attack.

The defensive stalwarts were Jake Dean (13 tackles, 1 sack, 1 receiving TD) and Cole Harrington (10 tackles).

The offense was humming all night, behind the dazzling arm of Marcus (10 for 19, 171 passing yards). His five-touchdown pass night will also place him in Spartans lore, being his career-high and one of the school’s greatest single-game passing efforts.

“I’m definitely learning each week. I’m learning the system more and more as the weeks go on,” Marcus said. “My confidence keeps getting higher and higher. When I’ve got a stud like Joe Carlson, I can just throw that ball anywhere. He’s gonna go get it.”

Marcus, a sophomore, shared how he and Carlson have been building this connection since January, adding that Carlson has taught him much in that span.

“Our confidence in each other is very high. And as long as we can keep that up, we’ll be fine," he said.

Offensive coordinator Justin Baumann has the Starpoint offense looking strong, not missing a beat after replacing players like Aaron Chase and Max Bowden. He also believes the unit’s preparation is key, with them not only scouting what opponents run, but self scouting by figuring out what teams would try to run against them.

“We treat this like a college team,” Baumann said.

“We don’t have a set playbook, 60 plays. Every week we’re gonna come out with something different. And tonight was put Joe in the slot and if they’re gonna go one-on-one with him, then we’re taking it to the house every time.”

The key to the Marcus-Carlson connection has been more about the fact that Baumann has built this offense around Marcus’ strengths, particularly with his deep ball.

“Carson was definitely a young bull when we had him," Baumann said. "Obviously we come back from Aaron Chase ... and this aura that we have to replace him. I sat Carson down early and we pretty much said be your own man.”

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