Evart defense slows White Cloud for opening win

EVART -— Evart may be short on numbers this football season, but the Wildcats seemed to get better as the game got longer in Thursday night’s 25-3 victory over White Cloud.

It was the season opener for both teams. Sophomore quarterback Trevin Ladd, making his debut on a team with only 17 players, threw two touchdown passes and passed for 130 yards while the running attack garnered 130 yards also, led by Dillon Danley with 54.

“I thought our kids, with the first varsity game for a lot of them, played hard,” Evart coach Pat Craven said. “We’ve got a lot of areas to improve, but we’re happy to come out with a victory.”

Despite not scoring a touchdown on offense, Evart had a 6-3 halftime lead.

White Cloud was able to move the ball better than Evart early in the game and a bad snap over Ladd’s head in the first quarter gave the visitors the ball at the Wildcat nine.

But the Evart defense held. The offense couldn’t get first downs until the second quarter. Bad snaps stated hurting White Cloud and put the Indians at their own three late in the half. Andrew Maxwell’s hit on Indian quarterback Tito Rodriguez jarred the ball loose in the end zone and Dillon Danley recovered for the 6-0 lead. The extra point try failed.

“I was sent on a blitz and their center went the opposite way,” Maxwell said. “I went in the hole he made and I got to the quarterback before he made the handoff. I hit the ball.”

“That gave our kids a little bit of confidence that ‘Here we are, we can do this,’” Craven said. “Sometimes with a young team, their eyes get huge and they let the game get bigger than it is. But that play helped them settle down and calmed some nerves.”

White Cloud marched down the field, ignited on Allen Asuncion’s 34-yard run on the counter. It set up Bob Watson’s 28-yard field goal with 5.5 seconds left in the half.

The Wildcats put together a solid scoring drive in the third quarter and scored on Ladd’s 18-yard pass to Danny Griffin who fell to the ground as he let go of the ball, but then recovered to catch it while on his back.

The Wildcats put it away with two scores in the fourth. Danley’s 20-yard punt return set up a 1-yard scoring run by Cody Prichard. Ladd passed 16 yards to Nolan VanOrder midway in the fourth quarter for another touchdown.

“I thought we were in better shape (Thursday) and it helped us,” Craven said. “We’ve been working hard on that in practice.”

Evart’s defense held White Cloud to 111 yards rushing and none passing.

His younger players like Griffin and Ladd made some big plays, “but they’re going to have to,” Craven said. “We’re not here to make excuses that we’re young. We’re here to have our young kids help our seniors have an outstanding year. We’ll rely on them to grow fast and learn quickly.”

Evart has another non-league game Sept. 5 at Harrison.