Evart coach reflects on 7-3 football season

EVART — Evart’s football program was scheduled to have its season-ending banquet earlier this week.

But coach Pat Craven and his players obviously would have preferred playing another football game this week in the playoffs.

The Wildcats ended the season at 7-3 and a solid 7-2 regular campaign, losing only to Beal City and Lake City, a pair of teams still in the state playoffs.

Evart had hoped for a longer playoff stay, falling 21-6 to Carson City-Crystal in the first round.

“I thought we found out a lot of good things about our kids as the season rolled through,” Craven said. “I was really impressed with how some of them matured and progressed from last year and the year before. At the same time, we’re feeling disappointed we let that Carson City game slip out of our reach. It felt like we had a good enough team to make a deep run in the playoffs. I thought we let one go there.”

Craven points to the 33-27 homecoming victory over Pine River as a win most Wildcat fans will remember for a long time. Evart was down 27-0 with five minutes to play in the third quarter and scored 33 unanswered points.

“That’s something that not too many schools in the state of Michigan or anywhere can say they’ve done before,” Craven said. “I thought that was kind of a defining moment for our offense, for (receiver) Jacob Hopkins, (quarterback) Jacob Fortune and our passing game. They continued to play pretty well the rest of the year after that game.”

The Wildcats graduated 15 seniors and an exchange student.

“It’s kind of an odd year in the sense we had a handful of juniors not play this year because they were concerned about playing time,” Craven said. “A lot of those 16 kids gave us a lot of playing time. We have a lot of work to do this offseason. If our kids want to continue to compete at a high level and push for a qualifying spot for the players and compete for conference championship...we have to find ourselves and find out intensity and know that anything in life that’s worth having, you have to really work for.”

Beal City and Lake City have been league powers in the most recent seasons.

“Beal City never rebuilds, they just reload,” Craven said. “Lake City is losing key people and I look for them to be solid. I look for McBain and Pine River to be very formidable next year. Manton had a group of young kids. Our league is going to be tough.”