Marty Jackson and a productive senior class took Evans back to the playoffs for the first time in five years in 2004.
The Evans Football team takes to the field for practice. Head coach Marty Jackson will replace nearly the entire starting offense including the quarterback, tailback and three receivers this season, but he said it's nothing new for the team to have to prove itself.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The good news: Jackson is back. The bad news: The seniors are not.
Jackson and the rest of the Evans coaching staff will have to replace nearly the entire starting offense including the quarterback, tailback and three receivers.
"There is no doubt we have a lot to prove," said Jackson. "But we had a lot to prove last season, too. But on paper, I can see why we won't be picked as high as some of the other teams in the county."
Although unproven, there is talent at Evans.
Sophomore Kevin Millward and junior Josh McDaniel are battling each other for the quarterback job. Both are more athletic than former quarterback Brad Freeman, but the Knights will miss Freeman's intangibles.
"Brad brought a lot to the team as a leader," said Millward. "He had a presence in the huddle, and everybody respected him. That is the biggest thing I learned from Brad: leadership."
Millward will probably be the starter for the opener because the coaches like McDaniel's athleticism and will play him as receiver, running back, defensive back and punt returner.
The Knights' coaching staff also has to replace tailback Cheng Ho, who signed with Harvard and will go to Avon Old Farms prep school.
Evans football players perform stretching exercises before starting practice at the school. The team lost many of its key players last season and has a lot to prove.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Jackson said he would probably rely on a combination of running backs.
Junior Coley and James Cullen will get the majority of carries, with Coley as the speed back and Cullen the inside runner.
"I think both of those guys will complement each other," said senior guard Tyler Werrick. "It will be big to have two guys that you can bring in so one doesn't tire out."
Ryan Crislip and Tim Steflik graduated and Shawn Ward won't return to football this season, stripping Evans of its top three receivers.
Jackson said he has been impressed with Clayton Thomas and Teddy Leverett during fall practices. Matt Stark and B.J. Savoy will see action as will two sophomores, Jonathon Nicely and David Smith, both of whom are taller than 6-foot-2.
The biggest asset for the young quarterback could be tight end Wes Baxter. The sure-handed senior will be a safety valve for the quarterback.
The Knights' biggest question mark will be up front on the line of scrimmage.
Werrick, Jason Douglas and Josh Warner will return up front on offense, and Will Grooms and Ryan Alford are back on defense.
"I think the key to the season will be how we can perform on the line of scrimmage," said Jackson.
Kyle Golden, D.J. Ketchup and Tyler Leonard all return as linebackers, but the Knights lose intense linebacker Jonathan Amerson.
The defensive backfield will be one of the strongest units for Evans.
Greg Martin, Savoy and Stark will start again this season in the defensive backfield. Millward, a former National Punt, Pass and Kick champion, will handle the punting chores.
"We feel real good about our punting game with Millward," said Jackson. "He contributed as a freshman for us and we are confident in him."
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