Looking to regroup from last Friday’s 29-14 loss to Ben Lomond, the Evanston High School football team will square off tonight (Friday, Sept. 3) against Mountain View, the defending 2A state champs.
It will be the first meeting of the two teams since the Reagan administration; according to wyoming-football.com, the Kay Fackrell-led Red Devils beat the Buffalos 43-12 on Oct. 19, 1985, en route to a 3A state championship.
“I didn’t know it had been that long,” said MVHS head coach Brent Walk with a chuckle. “I saw that earlier this morning. Not a lot of history there. But our take is, we just take it one day at a time, one opponent at a time.”
The Buffalos participated in a Zero Week scrimmage last Friday at Green River, and looked like a team anxious to defend its title. Despite the loss of 10 players to graduation — including a handful whose names cluttered the 2A All-Conference and All-State lists — this year’s incarnation dropped 54 points on the Wolves, though their coach said there was a lot to be worked on.
“I think we’ve had a really good week,” Walk said. “We made a ton of mistakes over in Green River. We still came out and got the job done, but we addressed those issues this week, and hopefully things Friday night will be quite a bit better than in Green River.”
As for the Red Devils, head coach Jim Burton said his team knows what to expect Friday night at Kay Fackrell Stadium.
“Mountain View is going to throw the ball,” he said. “They’re going to run it a bit, so they’re kind of the opposite of us. Based on their scrimmage [against Green River], they’re 60-70% throw. We’re kind of the opposite. They did lose a lot [to graduation], but they’re just reloading. They’re still one of the best teams in the state year in and year out, and not just in 2A.”
Mountain View is known for their strong quarterback play, and against Green River last week, platooned a pair of players with successful results. Walk praised the play of both his quarterbacks, though he stopped short of naming a starter for Friday’s contest.
“We’re in a good spot,” Walk said of his two quarterbacks. “I think Tyler [Petersen] threw the ball really well, and Connor [Micheli] threw a long touchdown pass. We’ll see. Both those kids are still competing, so it may be a game-time decision. They both bring good things to the table. And whoever doesn’t get the start will get a ton of reps someplace else.”
Evanston’s defense played well against Ben Lomond, especially in the first half; Burton said that play will have to continue if the Red Devils hope to slow the Buffs’ high-powered offense.
“Our DBs will be a little less help against the run, obviously, and more cover on the back end,” Burton said. “Mountain View — in their scrimmage, anyway — has two quarterbacks [Petersen and Micheli] that can both just air it out. I mean, they can flat throw it deep, and they have big, tall receivers that can run. Our defensive backs are going to have a lot to do, because they’re going to have to cover a lot more. So it’s going to be a challenge, but it ought to be a good time.”
The Red Devils were successful with their ground game last week against Ben Lomond — senior Jagger Mitchell and junior David Perez combined for almost 200 yards rushing against a tough Scots defense, and quarterback Jaxin Moore is a dual threat with his arm and his feet.
“We’ll air it out a little bit, but that’s just not who we are,” Burton said.
“We’re going to run the ball, and try to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers as much as we can. Pretty similar gameplan — when we can, we’ll take advantage of what we can.”
“Jagger should have another big game, David Perez and Jaxin Moore,” Burton added. And I’d like to see a really good game on defense from kids like Cade Francom, Stetson Wiedrich, Derek Johnson. I’d like to find ways to get those guys involved on offense, as well.”
Regardless of the outcome, both coaches agree that their respective teams are in for a battle.
“We have a ton of respect for Evanston, in all facets of the game,” Walk said. “They’re very good athletes, and they’re hard-nosed kids that are going to get after it.”
Because of the teams’ proximity to each other, a capacity crowd is expected for Friday’s contest. Burton said it’s his hope that fans continue to practice social distancing and wear masks.
“The fans did a pretty good job [last week] but, like with everything, there’s always room for improvement, us included,” he said. “We just have to keep focusing on it, and just remember — this is about the kids. It isn’t about anything else. It’s about getting to play. And if we don’t do the social distancing, we won’t be able to have fans, which is a bummer. It’s a big part of the game. But the priority is, these kids get a chance to play, the cheerleaders get to do their thing, the marching band, the Classics — it’s all about them. As long as we keep that in perspective, I think we’ll do an even better job this week.”