The Evanston High School football team knows it hasn’t played to its full potential this season.
But the Red Devils have been making a solid effort to change that.
Evanston (1-2) will look to put together its best game of the year when the Red Devils host No. 1 Star Valley at 7 p.m. Friday for a homecoming matchup.
“We are definitely moving forward,” Evanston senior outside linebacker Nick Kunz said on Wednesday. “We’ll show up to play and we’ll show up to fight. That’s what we’re aiming for this week – to prove we won’t back down and we’re here to make a statement.”
The Red Devils know the challenge that lies ahead. The Braves are the No. 1 team in Class 3A after receiving all 21 first-place votes in the Week 3 poll.
Star Valley has won back-to-back state titles, but has replaced eight starters on the ball from last year’s team. That didn’t seem to slow the Braves down in Week 1 after earning a 55-42 win against Spring Creek ,Nevada, while compiling more than 500 yards on offense.
Star Valley went on to claim a 24-18 win at Preston, and rolled to a 38-14 victory against Torrington, ranked fifth in 3A in Week 3.
“Star Valley is a very physical team, and we want to match Star Valley, physically,” Evanston head coach Patt Fackrell said. “We’re going to be physical right back. I think our kids are excited for a big challenge. They believe and (the coaches) believe that we are a very good football team.”
The Red Devils earned a 21-8 win over Riverton in Week 1, but have suffered back-to-back losses since. Evanston fell 23-20 at Rawlins in Week 2 and are looking to bounce back from last week’s 37-19 home loss to Cody, which received 21 points in the latest poll.
“If we limit our mistakes to none, and we play really hard and have our best game of the year, we can beat these guys,” Evanston senior nose/left guard Beau Lloyd said. “We have a lot of room to grow. Our first games, we made so many mistakes. There were a lot of things we can work on and build on.”
According to the team, Evanston has been more focused on correcting its mistakes – mistakes that have allowed opponents to maintain possession of the ball longer than they should. Practices have been more intense and focus has been at an all-time high.
The Red Devils are shooting for perfection now.
“This is a game that is going to be intense from the get-go,” Kuntz said. “If we don’t practice like it’s a game situation, it’s not going to be a very good showing. The more intense we are, and the more we push ourselves as a team, the better off we’ll be.
“If we make a mistake, we stop and we fix it and we go harder the next play until we get it perfect.”
Fackrell said this has been the best week of practice the Red Devils have had all season.
“I think homecoming does that,” Frackrell said. “I think it kind of brings a whole new level to excitement, to not only our football program, but our school, too. I also think our kids realize the last two games we’ve played, we’ve made some mistakes that didn’t help us try to win those ballgames.”
More important to Fackrell is seeing his team starting to take ownership of past mistakes, learn from them and fix the issue at hand.
“When you watch film and you see the mistake, I think our kids are starting to learn how to correct those mistakes,” Fackrell said. “The kids also have asked (the coaching staff) to hold (them) accountable. If they make a mistake, let’s talk about it and get it fixed. If we don’t fix it now, we’ll continue to make those mistakes Friday night and that’s where it costs us.”
Evanston, which is in its first season playing in Class 3A, and the Braves have not squared up against each other since 2008. The teams have split their last eight meetings, with the Red Devils winning the last two.
They are hoping for No. 3.