PREP NOTEBOOK: Stature on field can't offset Evans' stature off it

Oct. 24, 2013 @ 05:50 AM

An improved Riverside team appears to be a lock for a playoff spot, but a return there for the first time since 2006 will have a lot to do with Pirate running back Joel Evans.

He just might be 5-feet-4-inches tall in cleats. Maybe. But the 185-pound cannonball has rushed for 1,473 yards in eight games including 102 against Hillside, one of the better 4-A teams in the state, on Friday.

Yet there appears to be little room for him on college rosters.

“What more does this kid have to prove?” Riverside coach David Hackney said.

Not much, according to Campbell University, which has extended Evans an offer. But the Camels don’t offer traditional scholarships. Hackney said Evans would be covered financially under grants and other aid the school could provide.

Other schools have shown interest in Evans, Hackney said, but he said he can’t understand why a running back as productive as Evans isn’t getting more love.

“This kid can play football,” Hackney said.

In other words, Evans is not just a workout guy, although the guy can work out, benching 365 pounds, squatting at least 500 pounds, covering 40 yards of real estate in 4.5, Hackney said.

And don’t think that Evans is some dummy who’d get tackled trying to qualify academically for college. He has a 4.5 grade-point average and scored close to 1600 on the SAT, Hackney said.

“My thing is if the kid can play football, then give the kid a shot,” Hackney said.

After working out at a major combine, Evans, Hackney said, was told that the only reason he didn’t get offered a scholarship was because he’s too short.

Former Hillside football player Desmond Scott was a 5-foot-9, 185-pound running back at Duke, where he wrapped up his career as a wide receiver.

“I’m sitting here trying to think at what part of the game does height really come into play at the running back position,” Scott said. “To be honest, I really can’t think of it right now. Maybe when it comes to you taking on a 6-2, 6-4 linebacker that’s trying to blitz you. Yeah, you can hit him low, but he still outweighs you and is taller than you and has longer arms.”

Evans’ superior strength would allow him to compensate for his lack of height, Scott said.

“Strength is a big part of the game, especially for him, because if he’s able to deliver a blow — like that first initial blow to have that impact (to) cause the linebacker to back up,” Scott said. “I know when I got my hands on some folks, it was a wrap, because I was strong. I bench pressed 405 (pounds) at 185 (pounds). And you’re saying (Evans is) short and stocky, so that’s a bigger blow than I was able to deliver.”

 

DEFENSES ON RUN

Northwood and Southern lit up the scoreboard 56-54 in Southern’s win Friday.

Both teams on offense love to spread things out and throw the ball both around and down the field, which is the trend these days.

So where’s the D?

Northwood coach Bill Hall said his Chargers aren’t neglecting the defensive side of the ball.

”We spend as much time now, if not more, on defense,” Hall said. “I have been coaching football for 26 years and have never been involved in a game like Friday’s. At our coaches meeting Sunday night and at practice (Monday), we made changes on D that will hopefully take care of the problems that were taking place in our secondary — and special teams — Friday night.”

The wonder is whether high school defenses are powerless to stop these spread offenses.

Southern coach Adrian Jones said high school players don’t have the same amount of time for film study as college players do, limiting what high school coaches can do to prepare their defenses for wide-open offenses.

It’s common for high school players to go both ways, which also cuts in on defensive prep time, Jones said.

 

SHARP OUT FOR YEAR

Carrboro coach Jason Tudryn said running back Trai Sharp will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

The Jaguars, 3-0 when he went down in the first series of a loss to Northwood, have only won once without him.

The latest conqueror was Burlington Cummings on Friday. Carrboro receiver-turned-back Marlin Johnson, who started at running back in Sharp’s absence Friday, left that game with a bruised shoulder, but Tudryn said he should be fine.

Johnson was also hurt in the Northwood game, missing time with an ankle problem.