Evart crushes Baldwin to earn playoff spot

EVART — The Evart Wildcats punched their ticket to the Michigan High School Athletic Association football playoffs on Friday, with a dominating 54-0 win over the visiting Baldwin Panthers.

Coach Pat Craven was proud of his players’ focus on the game plan.

“I thought we played well,” he said. “Our focus was on three things. We wanted to win every play; wanted to win the mental aspect of the game; and win the line of scrimmage. As a team, we thought if we could win in those three areas of the game we would be fine.”

Cody Pritchard’s 215 yards and two touchdowns led Evart’s ground assault, as Craven credited the offensive line for being able to open up holes for the senior.

“I was really pleased by the effort of our offensive line,” he said. “Cody Pritchard was able to hit the 1,000-yard mark on the season. We were able to help him accomplish that personal goal. We were able to get the team win and remain healthy.”

Pritchard opened the Wildcats’ scoring with a 62-yard touchdown run with 5:11 left in the first quarter. A little more than two-and-half minutes later, Pritchard broke through a wall of Baldwin players to scamper 40 yards to paydirt.

Less than a minute later, Evart capitalized on a Baldwin fumble as quarterback Carter Pritchard completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Layne Nadig. Following an interception by Evart’s Garrett Johnson, Carter Pritchard found Trevin Ladd for a 15-yard touchdown. Hakan Karakoyien kicked 4-4 for in point after touchdowns, making it 28-0 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Danny Griffin intercepted Baldwin’s quarterback Blake Dockery to put the Wildcats back on the offense. Seconds later, Cody Pritchard broke free for a 77-yard touchdown run, making it 34-0 with 8:41 left in the second quarter.

Evart’s defense was able to force the Panthers to a three-and-out in less than a minute. Griffin quickly broke through the defense and rumbled for a 40-yard touchdown.

Nadig added a five-yard touchdown with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half. Evart’s running back Billy Conklin added a 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, making it 54-0.

Knowing the score, Baldwin coach Lee Vickers said the focus for the second half for the Panthers was to have fun.

“We had a few guys get in and play positions they normally don’t get to play,” he said. “We are a young team, we have to find ways to keep the younger guys engaged.”

With a 1-8 record on the season, Vickers said the off-season will allow the players to grow as players.

“We have a lot of things we have to work on,” he said. “Conditioning is going to be really important as well football IQ. We definitely have to bring up the football IQ. They need to learn the game and know the ins and outs. It’s so much more important.”

With a 6-3 record, Craven said the focus now for the Wildcats is getting ready for the playoffs.They play at Frankfort (9-0) Friday night in Division 8 predistrict action.