Shane Yates doesn't want to hear one more word about Evans High's lack of size.
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound junior offensive tackledefensive tackle is one of the bigger linemen on a Knights team with a reputation for gargantuan lines.
Despite Evans having smaller guys on the line, he believes the team will be fine in the trenches.
"We've just been working hard in the weight room and making up for size with strength," Yates said. "We've been lifting a lot more than in the past."
Evans returns a combined 10 starters on offense and defense from last season's 6-4 team. One is senior running back Jamal Jones, who rushed for 1,400 yards last season. Jones also will return kicks and play cornerback.
"I assume he'll do the same for us this year," Evans head coach Jim Connor said of Jones' yardage last season. "We're going to try to get it to him as quick as we can."
Connor also will give playing time to tailbacks Gary Winfrey and Fernando Mickens, as well as fullbacks Jon Lee and Jacob Truan. At quarterback, senior Wes Ward and junior Bobby Connor shared the position last year and will continue to do so this year, the coach said.
"All the skill players are back," Connor said. "All our interior folks are gone. The offense is only as good as the offensive line."
On defense, Yates and 6-3, 255-pound tackle Tony Rouse anchor the interior line, while the end position will be a question mark. Michael Poloney will try to pick up the slack at linebacker, while Evans should be in good shape in the secondary with returners Winfrey, Jones and LeRoy Steele.
"Defensively, we better be quick," Connor said. "We're going to have to pursue the ball."
Heat has been a problem for Evans this summer. Connor can't recall a single practice where everything has run smoothly.
"We haven't had a practice yet where somebody hasn't had cramps or somebody went down," he said. "We're giving more breaks. We're trying to give them more water."
However, Rouse believes that Evans can overcome the scorching temperatures.
"If you work hard, regardless of the heat, I think we'll come out on top," he said. "If everybody gives 100 percent, I think we'll be OK."
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