EVANSTON — Red Devil football returns to Fremont County this Friday night for the second week in a row. The Red Devils will face their third 3A East Conference opponent in as many weeks when they square off against the Lander Valley Tigers at Bill Bush Stadium.
The Red Devils and Tigers have met a total of 17 times dating back to 1959, with Lander Valley owning a 10-7 edge in the series, including the last four consecutively, though the teams have not played since 2004. Evanston last defeated the Tigers in Lander in 1992.
Evanston brings an undefeated 2-0 record into the contest, with convincing wins over Rawlins in Evanston, 35-7, and Riverton on the road, 48-8. Lander lost in week one at Green River, 31-20, and picked up a 28-26 victory in Powell last weekend; this will be the home-opener for the Tigers.
The game will mark the first time Red Devil head coach Pat Fackrell and his staff will go up against a coach whom Fackrell shared the sidelines with at Black Hills State, John Scott. Fackrell was a defensive coordinator for Scott at BHSU. Scott won two state titles with the Kemmerer Rangers in the early 90s and guided the Gillette Camels to their first pair of state crowns in 1998 and 2000. Most recently, he led the Tongue River Eagles to back-to-back state championship games in 2015-16.
“It’s fun. We’ve already been talking this week about the time we spent together,” Fackrell said of Scott.
“He’s comical and we’ve already had some fun conversations through the week. It’ll be exciting to go to Lander and see coach Scott. I’m glad to have him back in the area. He’s good for football,” Fackrell added.
The Evanston head coach reported the week in practice has been a good one, spent working through some processes that needed attention and “throwing in a few new wrinkles.”
Fackrell also described his team as “overall healthy” entering tonight’s 3A matchup.
At quarterback, Lander returns Max Mazurie, who currently ranks second in the Class 3A ranks in passing at 116 yards per game. Fackrell described Mazurie as “a quarterback capable of beating you with his legs.”
Mazurie has spread the ball around to receivers John Fawson, Conrad Swenson and Conner Jay, each with at least one touchdown reception in the early season.
Eli Mazurie has been the leading ground-gainer for the Tigers on the season, with Jack Sweeney, Max Mazurie and Slater Coffee as additional threats out of the backfield.
Defensively, Sweeney leads the charge for Lander, along with Mason Cronk, Jasper Roy and Swenson. Sweeney leads the entire 3A classification in defensive points through the first two weeks of competition with a 22-point-per-game average.
Red Devil Tyus Cornia tops the 3A in rushing at 241.5 yards per game. Cornia also leads the classification in punting, though he’s only booted the ball twice, so far.
Seth Lloyd ranks eighth in passing at 83.5 yards per outing, but Evanston hasn’t had to rely on passing much with such a potent ground game.
Three Red Devils are among the top ten in scoring in 3A football: Cornia with 30 points, Angel Rodriguez with 18 and Pablo Escalante rounding out the leaderboard with 17.
Rodriguez tops the 3A division in punt returns and ranks fifth in kickoff returns, averaging 13.5 and 23 yards per game, respectively.
Escalante is fifth in kickoffs with an average of 50.7 yards per kickoff, in addition to leading 3A football with 5 touchbacks and is 13 of 14 in points-after-touchdowns.
Defensively, Rylie Griggs leads the Red Devils with 16.5 points per game, good for tenth place in the 3A top-50.
Rigden Wagstaff averages 12.5 defensive points per game to rank 27th in the 3A classification, with teammate Jagger Mitchell in the 46th spot, averaging nine points per contest.
Lander will be a run-first team, according to Fackrell, but will display a balanced offensive attack capability.
“Defensively, they’re a zone-concept team, meaning we will have to contend with double teams and find ways to take advantage of what they give us,” Fackrell added.
The Red Devils are ranked fourth in the WyoPreps.com Coaches and Media poll entering week three. This is the first time Evanston has been listed in the top-five this season and also the initial appearance in the poll since dropping down from Class 4A to 3A.
Evanston returns home to battle the Powell Panthers in the first 3A West Conference game next Friday, Sept. 21.