Evart stuns top-ranked Beal City

EVART — It was a huge victory for Evart on Friday night when the Wildcats upset Beal City 17-7.

But Wildcat coach Pat Craven wants his team to focus on upcoming challenges, including Friday’s homecoming game with Lake City.

But the win over Beal City was a sweet one, considering the Aggies are a perennial Highland Conference and state power and were ranked No. 1 in the state in Division 1 by the Associated Press.

Evart was 1-3 entering the road game and Beal City was 4-0.

“Our kids played really well,” Craven said. “They had a great week of practice. We worked to refocus on trying to get better. We wanted to focus on every single play individually, doing our own jobs, and shrink the game down to individual battles. The kids executed the game plan wonderfully.”

Robbie Tapling threw a touchdown pass and scored on a run while Chris Imhoff booted a field goal to lead Evart.

Beal City scored the only touchdown in the first half. Evart scored 10 points in the third quarter to take the lead, including on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Tapling, set up on a 30-yard run by Dillon Danley. That was followed by a 30-yard field goal from Imhoff for a 10-7 lead.

Tapling passed three yards to Danny Griffin on a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter for the clinching touchdown.

“We played a pretty clean game, limited the turnovers, had zero silly penalties and gained more confidence as the game went along,” Craven said. “We really played well to our strengths, which is our team speed. That fit us very well.”

Dillon Danley had 111 yards on 17 carries. Imhoff had six tackles, including four for a loss. Griffin had a sack and interception. Layne Nadig had a fumble recovery.

“Beal turned the ball over,” Craven said. “That interception hurt them and they put the ball on the ground. Our kids capitalized on their turnovers. Defensively, our kids played well. They slipped one in there in the second quarter. Other than that, our kids shut them down defensively.

“It’s a big win for our kids. We have to use this to catapult us and get us ready for Lake City, which will be a good opponent. We have to be prepared. It’s a nice win, a big win. But at the end of the day, it’s only one win. We have to be ready to move on.”

Tapling remains at quarterback replacing Trevin Ladd, who is still out with injuries sustained in an automobile accident last month.

“Robbie has done a nice job for us,” Craven said.

Lake City “will be physical and well-coached,” Craven said. “They’ve been a tremendous rival of ours. So we expect a high intensity, very physical football game.”

“There’s obvious hope that the huge win over Beal City “is a confidence booster for our kids and they’ll see their potential as a team,” Craven said. “We also don’t want to have a Beal City hangover. What we did Friday night, Lake City doesn’t care much about that. We have to prepare for Lake City and be focused on them.”