Evart football players earn all-Highland Conference honors

EVART -- The all-Highland Conference football team this season includes eight Evart players

Derek Bowen, Robert Burge, Jacob Fortune, Jacob Hopkins, Dean Marsh and Larry VanBuren were on the first team

Josh Decator and Jared Pattee were  on the honorable mention list.

Bowen was a senior linebacker for Evart. He had 81 tackles, three sacks, and one interception that was returned 85 yards for a touchdown.

“Derek is a very cerebral linebacker,” said Evart coach Pat Craven. “ Week in and week out, he was able to strongly execute the defensive game plan and really set the edge for his defense. His toughness and athletic ability made him one of the finest linebackers around. Earlier in the season I mentioned that I felt I had one of the best linebacking cores in the area. Derek was certainly a huge part of that confidence and success.”

Burge was a senior inside linebacker had 126 total tackles, two sacks and two interceptions.

“Robert was the defensive player of the year in the Highland Conference (voted by head coaches in conference),” said Craven. “He was the best defensive player on the field in every game we played this year, including the playoff game with Carson City. Robert’s ability to quickly read and anticipate, coupled with his speed and strength, helped him to be the dominant player that he was.”

Fortune, a senior quarterback, was 95-of-167 for 57 percent with 1,684 yards, 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“Fortune did a great job for us this year,” said Craven. “He was fearless in throwing the ball this year. He continued to improve and make better reads as the year progressed.”

Hopkins, a senior receiver, had 46 catches for 1,017 yards with 22.11 per catch plus 16 touchdowns.

“Hopkins is by far the most gifted and talented receiver Evart has ever seen,” Craven said.”Both his yards and touchdown receptions are school records. His size and speed provided mismatches for defenses every Friday night.”

Marsh was the senior center for Evart.

“Dean anchored an offensive line that only allowed three sacks the entire season,”  Craven said. “He was responsible for making protection calls at the line of scrimmage and assisting the quarterback with audibles. Pattee was a senior defensive back.

“Jared may be the top defensive back in the Highland Conference,” Craven said. “He was targeted just under 10 percent of the time by opposing quarterbacks and coaches. That means one out of 10 passes were even thrown Jared’s way. His ability to anticipate and play man coverage is unique.”

VanBuren, a senior inside linebacker, had 122 total tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries including one returned 60 yards for a TD.

“VanBuren was a three-year starter at inside linebacker for us,” Craven said. “He was solid. Week in and week out teams were all very impressed with the two middle backers from Evart.

Decator, a senior defensive tackle, had 70 tackles, four sacks and two fumble recoveries.

“Josh was able to play multiple positions for us on the defensive line this year, including our nose tackle position in our 3-4 scheme,” Craven said. “His size, speed, and strength was a match up problem nearly every Friday night.”