Evart Wildcats prepare for showdown with Lake City

EVART — Evart’s football team is going to the playoffs but the Wildcats first have a major showdown Friday night at home with arch-rival Lake City in Highland Conference action.

The Wildcats and Trojans are both 6-1 with losses to Beal City being the only blemish on their records. Lake City lost 42-35 to Beal City in overtime last weekend.

“I expect them to play their best game Friday night,” said Evart coach Pat Craven said. “I can’t speak for their emotional state. But I would expect them to give us their best game and execute on all levels.”

Drew Marion leads the way for the Trojan attack.

“He may be one of the top quarterbacks in northern Michigan,” Craven said. “There’s a reason he’s all-state. They did a good job with (running back Jacob) Tresdale who came to them from Manton. They’re a very dangerous team. We’ll have to play well to compete with them.”

Jacob Fortune connected for four touchdowns to help Evart clinch a playoff berth in a 31-28 win over McBain on Friday.

Fortune passed for 355 yards and five touchdowns while Hopkins caught six passes for 221 yards to help the Wildcats improve to 6-1 and 4-1 in the Highland Conference. The duo connected on several big plays throughout the game, including touchdowns of 25, 58, 44 and 61 yards.

“They were double teaming Hopkins all game and we threw it to him anyway,”  Craven said. “The coaches have done a great job in identifying areas that they think we can attack opposing defenses. Jacob Hopkins on most Friday nights is the best athlete on the team. He’s a tough matchup with size strength and speed. That certainly makes the difference.”

The Evart defense was led by Larry VanBuren with 14 tackles and a sack and Josh Decator with six tackles and two sacks. Decator added three receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown on offense. Jared Pattee had four catches for 57 yards.

Craven said he was happy to see his team explode offensively, running just 42 plays, while McBain ran 80.

“It was a back and forth game,” he said. “McBain played well and were very physical. We only ran 42 plays but I thought we were pretty explosive with some big plays. We’ve had a rough couple of days with a death in our school family. I thought the kids played well.”

McBain led 14-12 after the first quarter and 22-18 at halftime. Evart was up 24-22 after third quarter and outscored McBain 7-6 in the fourth.

In the first quarter, Fortune passed 30 and 25 yards to Decator and Hopkins for touchdowns. He then connected to Hopkins on touchdowns passes of 58, 44 and 61 yards in the second, third and fourth quarters.

“Offensively I thought we were explosive and the (Fortune to Hopkins combination) was outstanding Craven said. “Fortune threw very well and Hopkins made some tremendous plays. Defensively we had some big plays when we had to but we had some breakdowns. We have to work on that this week.”

Pioneer sports editor Martin Slagter also contributed to this report.