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Seniors take lead for Evans

Knights off to record start

    There hasn’t been a game of this magnitude in almost 20 years at Evans High.
    The school of about 2000 students in the suburbs of Augusta is off to its best start (5-0) since 1987 when they finished 11-1.
    “We’ve got some guys that have paid their dues,” said Evans coach Marty Jackson, now in his fifth year at the program. “We have some guys that were playing when they were sophomores that had to grow up. Now they’re seniors and it’s helped them. They took their lumps early.”
    In 2005, the Knights finished 1-9, the lone win coming over rival Lakeside by just one point. They finished 4-6 a year ago in seventh place in the 10-team Region 3-AAAA.
    But with the 21 seniors who suffered through 2005, Evans has jumped out to a first-place standing and has high hopes for what could be a special season.
    “We got a good group of leaders out of that bunch,” said Jackson. “They’ve been through the ringer. They really worked hard in the offseason and now we’re just trying to go one play at a time.”
     One of those seniors is quarterback Kevin Millward. Millward was named to the First Team All-State as a punter last season. This year he’s thrown for 815 yards at quarterback and rushed for another 54, totaling 10 touchdowns.
    The Knights run a multiple offense, full of shotguns and spread option looks. Wide receiver’s Jonathan Nicely and David Smith are playmakers on the perimeter.
    The Knights’ undefeated start includes a 34-28 overtime win, on the road, at Effingham County. That win may have signified that Evans is no fluke.
    “That was a great game,” said Jackson. “They just kicked our butts in the first half. But we were only down 14-7. We came out in the second half and played a lot better, did some good things in the third quarter. But Effingham went right down the field on us in the fourth quarter and tied it up with eight seconds left. In overtime we were just able to hold ‘em.”
    That game was two weeks ago. Last week Evans pounded the Academy of Richmond County 35-0, giving them a full head of steam heading into tonight’s homecoming game with perennial power Statesboro.
    “I think everybody here knows that Statesboro’s one of the premier teams in the state,” Jackson said. “They’re just a great football team. Coach (Steve) Pennington and coach (Charlie) Fales — they do a great job. Just a very consistent program with good ol’ smash mouth football. Everything’s just sound — I don’t see a weakness.”
    Jackson also gave praise to quarterback Luke Connell and running backs Nic Lanier, Patrick Jenkins and Jonathan Coleman. He then marveled at the play of defensive tackle Deangelo Tyson.
    “I think we’re going to have to play our best game of the year,” he added. “We don’t need to make mistakes. We don’t need to give them any gimmes. We don’t need a bunch of turnovers or to get a kick blocked or anything like that. We have to play good football. We try to win each play. If we win each play the outcome kind of takes care of itself.”
    Evans is expecting a big crowd for tonight’s contest at Blanchard Stadium, a facility with a capacity of 8,000.

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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