Special teams are the key to success.
That is an adage many football coaches swear by, but most fans just laugh and say that coaches are exaggerating the special teams' impact.
For the Evans Knights, the saying is apropos.
Evans returns the area's most potent special teams unit this year with both Reid Tankersley and Ryan Crislip returning as kicker and punter, respectively.
"Those guys are amazing," Evans coach Marty Jackson says, "They can change the game with their legs."
Tankersley returns for his senior year, boasting possibly the strongest leg in the county. Kicking runs in the Tankersley family, as cousin Ben received a football scholarship to Presbyterian after he graduated from Greenbrier.
With a strong leg like Tankersley's, the Knights will almost always have the edge if a game goes into overtime. Overtime rules allow each team to receive an opportunity to score from the 15-yard line.
"Rarely can a high school kicker make it in from around Reid's range," Jackson said. "If we were to stop the other team in overtime, Reid's leg would give us a great chance to win."
Crislip's punting ability also gives the Knights a chance to win.
When the Knights' offense is struggling, Crislip can easily play the field position game.
"His punts can pin the return team deep in their own territory," Jackson said. "He is great with directional punting. He also is a heck of a receiver."
Jackson also has a security blanket with freshman Kevin Millward.
Millward won the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition for his age group and was named The Columbia County News-Times 2003 Athlete of the Year.
"Kevin Millward will see the field somewhere, be it at quarterback, punter or kicker," Jackson said. "He is just too talented to keep off the field."
Millward's role might come on kickoffs.
"I just wanted to come in this year and put in my time on the junior varsity team," Millward said. "The fact that I'm playing some varsity is a bonus. Ryan and Reid are both great, so I'll just fit in wherever."
However the rotation ends up, Tankersley thinks the threesome will be successful.
"I'll put our specialists against any team around," he said. "We are as deep as you can be."
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