In 2013, Evans went undefeated in Columbia County play, clinching the unofficial crown when junior quarterback Matlin Marshall completed the game-winning pass with just 21 seconds remaining against Lakeside.
While they ultimately fell short, that win also kept the Knights in the running to claim the final state playoff spot out of Region 2-AAAAA.
With Marshall behind center, coach Marty Jackson believes the Knights have the chance to take the next step this year.
“We just have to keep on sawing wood,” Jackson said of making the playoffs. “We are very close. I think we learned a lot about ourselves last year. I think that experience at quarterback is going to be a big factor for us.”
Having a quarterback in the system for more than a year has been a rarity recently for Jackson.
“Having a quarterback coming back, that’s the first time that’s happened since 2009,” Jackson said. “First time we’ve had a returning starter (at QB) so that’s real nice.”
Ronnie Graham, Joacinto Grimes and Stephon Jacobs got the majority of touches at running back a year ago, but all three have graduated.
Expected to step in will be senior fullback Carlos Dorsey and junior Robert Clay, among others. Dorsey thinks they will be just fine.
“Our quarterback is really athletic so replacing the running backs wasn’t that hard of a job,” said Dorsey, noting they are in the second year of running their system. “This year running our offense, everybody is clicking together, getting their job done, so it’s going to be a pretty good year offensively.”
The Knights lost defensive backs K’lon Lovett and David Mims.
Jackson thinks replacing those two will be a challenge.
“I feel good about our defensive run-stopping ability,” Jackson said. “Our secondary’s got to grow up in a hurry.”
Dorsey, who also starts at linebacker, was even more definitive about upcoming opponents’ efforts to gain yards on the ground.
“Nobody’s going to be able to run on us,” Dorsey said.
Defensive lineman Devin Lampkin thinks attitude can help carry them a long way as well.
“We’re more positive than we were last year,” Lampkin said. “We’re better up front and I believe we have a good chance of making the playoffs this year.”