In 2013, the Evans High School Knights went undefeated in Columbia County play, clinching the unofficial crown when junior quarterback Matlin Marshall completed the game-winning pass with just 21 seconds remaining in the next-to-last game against Lakeside.
While they would ultimately fall short, that win also kept the Knights in the running to claim the final state playoff spot out of Region 2-AAAAA. With Marshall behind center, head coach Marty Jackson believes the Knights have the chance to take the next step this year.
“We just have to keep on sawing wood,” said Jackson of making it to the state playoffs. “We are very close. I think we learned a lot about ourselves last year. I think that experience at quarterback is going to be a big factor for us.”
Having a quarterback in the system for more than a year has been a rarity recently for Jackson.
“Having a quarterback coming back, that’s the first time that’s happened since 2009,” Jackson said. “First time we’ve had a returning starter (at QB) so that’s real nice.”
Should something happen to Marshall, Jackson has senior Colin Dominy ready to step in, not that he won’t be already contributing.
“Colin (Dominy) will be on the field, he’ll be starting on defense, he’ll be on the field on offense, too,” Jackson said. “I think that’s a big factor, just that experience factor.”
Ronnie Graham, Joacinto Grimes and Stephon Jacobs got the majority of touches at running back a year ago but graduated. Expected to step in will be senior fullback Carlos Dorsey and junior Robert Clay, among others. Dorsey thinks they will be just fine.
“Our quarterback is really athletic, so replacing the running backs wasn’t that hard of a job,” said Dorsey, noting they were in the second year of running their system. “Last year was our first year running this offense. “This year running our offense, everybody is clicking together, getting their job done, so it’s going to be a pretty good year offensively.”
Defensively, the Knights lose defensive backs K’lon Lovett and David Mims and Jackson thinks replacing those two will be a challenge.
“I feel good about our defensive run-stopping ability,” Jackson said. “Our secondary’s got to grow up in a hurry.”
Dorsey, who also starts at linebacker, was even more definitive about upcoming opponents’ efforts to gain yards on the ground.
“Nobody’s going to be able to run on us,” Dorsey said.
Defensive lineman Devin Lampkin thinks attitude can help carry them a long way as well.
“We’re more positive than we were last year,” said Lampkin. “We’re better up front and I believe we have a good chance of making the playoffs this year.”