Time to bounce back: Evart linebacker confident Wildcats will be champs

Graber having powerful junior season

Tanner Graber



Pioneer photo/John Raffel

EVART – It was a tough pill to swallow for the Evart Wildcats, ranked No. 6 in the state, when the final score showed a 26-21 victory for No. 2 Beal City on Friday night on Sept. 23 in a showdown of Highland Conference football powers.

A potential go-ahead Wildcat touchdown was inches short when the officials ruled the ball was fumbled out of bounds prior to crossing the goal-line. Victory was so close for the Wildcats.

It was still a strong effort for players like Evart junior Tanner Graber, a running back-linebacker, who was among the leading defensive players with seven tackles.

“Sometimes, there are things you can’t control,” Graber said. “I think we played a good game. There’s really nothing we can do about it.”

The defense held Beal City to six points in the second half.

“We expected our defense to be able to shut down what they wanted to do from a spread standpoint,” Evart coach Pat Craven said. 

On defense, “I just contain the outside, mainly that’s what I do,” Graber said.

It’s his first varsity season.

“I love it,” Graber said. “Our defense is tough. We make the plays. We need to make the tackles. We need to clean up our penalties for sure. We have a lot of dumb penalties. If we clean those up, we’ll be good.”

Graber also sees some action at running back.

“I’m like a one-cut man,” he said. “One cut and I’m gone.”

Evart will play at McBain on Friday in Highland action.

“We just need to keep pushing,” Graber said.  “We’re going for that championship this year.

“McBain’s a tough team. We just have to be physical.”

It wouldn’t be out of the question for Evart to see Beal City during the playoffs for a rematch.

“We would have to just stick to our assignments, stay focused and play the game,” Graber said.