Red Devils fall to 0-2 with loss to S. Summit
Slow start, turnovers lead to 34-17 loss; Riverton next
A slow start and turnovers against a strong South Summit team proved to be the Evanston High School football team’s undoing Friday at Kay Fackrell Stadium, falling to the Wildcats 34-17.
The loss dropped the Red Devils to 0-2 on the young season, and with Riverton coming to town Friday, head coach Steve Moore said he’s happy to get the Utah teams in the rear view, and start concentrating on Wyoming opponents.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot early, with the turnovers,” he said. “I thought as the game progressed, we settled in a little bit better. But still, mistakes are getting us. We did have fewer penalties, which is a good thing. But some dropped balls, some blocks in the back — those things seemed to set us back. Our self-inflicted mistakes were stopping us. But they’re a good football team, no doubt about it. But we did improve from last week, and that’s what we’re looking for, as a staff. And now, we’ll be fighting Wyoming teams, and that will be good.”
South Summit led 13-0, before the Red Devils got on the board in the second quarter, a 15-yard touchdown run by Brady Roberts with just over nine minutes to play in the first half. Jordan Mendez’s point after made it a one-score game at 13-7, though that’s as close as Evanston would get; the Wildcats scored two more touchdowns in the second quarter — a 4-yard touchdown pass from Bracken Lassche to Britton Woolstenhulme and a 35-yard touchdown run by Troy Stembridge — to take a 27-7 lead into halftime.
Moore and his staff made some adjustments in the locker room during the break, and the defense came out fired up, allowing just one score in the second half, a 31-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter from Lassche to Stranton Stevens to give the Wildcats a 34-7 lead.
The fourth quarter was all Red Devils, beginning with a 35-yard field goal by Jordan Mendez, his first as a Red Devil, though undoubtedly not his last. That was followed by Roberts’ second touchdown of the game — and third of the season — a two-yard plunge with just over two minutes to play in the game. Mendez made it 34-17 with the extra point, and that would be the final score of the contest.
“We didn‘t let up,” Moore said. “I told the kids after the game, it’s not lack of effort. It’s just some things we need to keep cleaning up. We’re asking a lot of some of these kids — on both sides of the ball — and with a whole new offense, it takes a little time to get it all figured out, and get everybody on the same page. Hopefully, we’ll start putting it together here, pretty soon.”
The Red Devils finished with 342 yards — 71 yards rushing, 72 yards passing and 199 yards on special teams, including a 70-yard kickoff return by Kai Barker, who was a shoestring tackle away from scoring a touchdown on the play.
“We were really close on some big plays — and those are the kind of plays that can make the difference in a football game,” Moore said. “Execute a few of those plays, and it’s a lot tighter game, for sure.”
Roberts finished with 59 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 23 carries to lead the team; quarterback Cohen Morrow had nine yards on six carries. Under center, Morrow threw for 51 yards, while Braunson Sims — who came in for Morrow late in the fourth quarter — threw for 16 yards.
“Our offense got into a better rhythm than the week before — obviously not where we need it or want it to be, but definitely better,” Moore said. “That was good to see. Our O-line did better, and that’s what we’re hoping to see every week, is improvement there.”
Defensively, Roberts led the Red Devils with 17 points, including an interception and four unassisted tackles; Kai Barker followed with 16.5 points. Cohen Morrow finished with 12 points, including the Red Devils’ only sack; Cole Robinette rounded out the defenders in double digits, with 11.5 points, including 1.5 tackles for loss.
“Defensively — especially with our linebackers — our pass drops were much better,” Moore said. “They still beat us on the edges, but I really liked the improved play by the linebackers with their pass drops.”
Moore said the team was disappointed after the loss, but kept their heads up, and are already looking toward next week’s matchup against 0-2 Riverton. The Wolverines also have a new head coach this season, so it should be interesting to see which coach comes away with their first win.
“The kids are hard workers, and they understand what we’re trying to do,” Moore said. “Our goals are still there — nothing is out of reach. Obviously, the kids want to win, and their attitude is the right attitude — they’re upset, but they understand it. They’ll be coachable again this week, without a doubt. We’ll coach them hard, and try to get a win on Friday night.”