EVART - Larry VanBuren hopes to play a key role for the Evart defense in a key position this season. The 5-10, 293-pound Wildcat Evart junior will be middle linebacker and fullback for the Wildcats. He's in his second varsity season. As a sophomore, VanBuren got his first taste of varsity action. "I feel like this year is going to be a lot better," he said, adding that getting used to the speed at the varsity level is a challenge. "I'm a lot stronger." VanBuren said he's also quicker. He put in plenty of offseason work. Evart conducted a scrimmage last week in preparing for the season opener. "The teams were small but we had a lot of intensity," VanBuren said. He's a returning starter on the defensive side of the ball. As a fullback, VanBuren expects to add to a talented running attack. "Our running game is looking pretty good," he said. "The only person we lost was our fullback (Brady Hasse). The offense will be different in some respects, VanBuren suggested, with the graduation of quarterback Jesse Lang, now that Jacob Fortune has taken over the job. VanBuren hopes to use his strength to be an effective ball carrier whenever his number is called. The Wildcat open the season Friday at home against Suttons Bay. "I know they run splitback and they'll have some quick guys," VanBuren said. "We're confident. In the first half, we need to keep our intensity, be ready the first half."