Sports

Evergreen ripe for an upset?

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

Bill Heglar’s desk at his Bellevue home has been a disaster area this week. The head coach of the Decatur High School football program will gladly admit it.

“I have piles of stuff that I’m going through,” he said.

But the first-year coach will undoubtedly take a cluttered desk rather than a spot watching the state football playoffs roll by — like so many Decatur teams in the past have.

The Gators will make their first-ever postseason appearance of any kind against the unbeaten Evergreen Plainsmen at 7 p.m. at Vancouver’s McKenzie Field tonight.

“Getting to play anywhere is a big deal for us,” Heglar said. “It just adds to the glamour to be traveling somewhere. It is kind of exciting for (the kids.)”

Heglar even took a sick day from his teaching duties at Decatur Monday to digest game tape on Evergreen.

“They look pretty good,” Heglar said.

Evergreen finished the 2003 regular season with a perfect 9-0 record and easily rolled to the Greater St. Helen’s League championship.

That has happened before. Last year, Evergreen also finished unbeaten in league play. But the Plainsmen lost their only two non-leaguers to Class 3A Ellensburg (28-26) and were pounded by Lincoln, a middle-of-the-pack team from Tacoma’s Narrows League, 41-14. In the 2002 postseason, Evergreen was bounced 56-28 by Capital — who eventually lost in the title game to Kentwood.

“You never really know about teams outside of your area,” Heglar said. “Some of them look a lot better than you think and some look worse than you think.”

Evergreen has really never been tested during the 2003 season. The Plainsmen have outscored their opponents 405-108 and their closest game was a 28-10 win over Lincoln in the second week of the season. A fact that might bode well for the Gators, who play in arguably the best football league in the state — the South Puget Sound League.

This league is so tough,” Heglar said. “You are playing a quality team every night.”

To illustrate that fact, all you have to do is go down the list of football state champions. Since 1973, no school from the Vancouver area has played in a state title game, let alone won one. During that same time, SPSL schools have won nine state championships and finished second another eight times.

The Gators will attempt to play “SPSL football” when they travel to Evergreen’s home field tonight. Decatur will pound the ball with fullback Kyle Bressler (1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns) on the offensive side of the ball and play solid, hard-hitting defense with linemen Ryan Dowell (5-10, 250), Lance Witherspoon (6-3, 250) and Chris Corey (6-5, 240), linebackers Bressler (5-11, 195) and Taylor McCluskey (6-1, 197) and safety Darin Harris, a University of Washington commit — something the Plainsmen haven’t seen this year. The Evergreen offense’s lowest output of the year — 28 points — came in their non-league win over Lincoln. They scored over 40 points in six of their nine games.

The Plainsmens’ explosive offense is led by senior quarterback Kyle Miller.

“He is a pretty good kid,” Heglar said.

In a game that decided the league title last week against Mountain View, Miller threw for 288 yards and four touchdowns in a 58-29 win.

But the cog that really gets the Evergreen offense rolling is senior Kevin Coad. Evergreen will line Coad up in several different positions during the course of the game, including wide receiver, fullback and tight end.

“They got him all over their offense. He’s the real deal,” Heglar said. “They really go to him a lot and do anything to get him the ball.”

Against Mountain View, Coad caught eight Miller passes for 208 yards and a touchdown.

The Plainsmen rushing attack is led by Taylor Rank, a senior transfer from Georgia who took over the starting role from Corey Fredericks midway through the season. In Evergreen’s last two games, Rank has tallied nine touchdowns and ran for over 250 yards.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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