Sitting in the stands Thursday night, I overheard a discussion about the Booster Club meeting held earlier in the week. Supposedly, a challenge was issued to running back Jamaal Evans of Irving High School. He was challenged to rush for 200 yards in an important game against Coppell. With a must-win game and a playoff berth at stake, Evans stepped up the challenge and then some.
His first touchdown was a carry up the middle that bounced outside about five yards downfield. Once he made it around the linebacker, Evans kicked it up another gear and turned on the speed. A cornerback from the left and safety from the right looked like they had a good angle on him, but Evans' burst of speed left both of them looking at the soles of his shoes. Fifty-five yards later, Evans had scored his first touchdown of the night.
He would eventually score five more touchdowns later in the evening as he led Irving to a 45-38 victory over Coppell. He finished with 36 carries for 332 yards and those six touchdowns. Challenge accepted and challenge achieved with an exclamation point!
Evans is a 5' 8", 180-pound running back with very good speed, but the one thing that was personally noticed was his vision. On numerous occasions, the line didn't give him a good hole to run through. So he would bounce off one of his lineman and start looking for a way out, usually around either end. On a few occasions, he would run into the back of one of his lineman, take a quick lateral step and shoot through a small hole.
He had a very similar running style to some other guy named Barry Sanders. Another strength was his durability with 36 rushes in a game. As a sophomore, he rushed with the ball 387 times for 2453 yards for a 10-4 team that lost twice to the eventual state runner-up Southlake Carroll. He also scored 28 touchdowns as a sophomore.
So far this year, in nine games, Evans has rushed 212 times for 1620 yards and 22 touchdowns. With Irving tied for third place in the district with Coppell and South Grand Prairie, they will make the playoffs with a win over cross-town rival Irving Nimitz because they own the tiebreaker against both teams with a win in head-to-head competition.
Everyone knows that it takes more than one person to make a team successful, and Irving has a distinct advantage in this area. Not only do they have an offensive lineman who has verbally committed to SMU (Chris Hall), but also they have another weapon on the outside named Adron Tennell.
Tennell is a 6' 5", 195-pound wide receiver who has also started for two years. Last year, Tennell caught 21 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore. This year, he has used his reported 4.5 speed and skilled hands for 31 receptions, 735 yards and seven touchdowns.
On a night when Evans rushed for over 300 yards, Tennell was able to catch four passes for 125 yards. The best looking reception of the night came when Tennell was lined up in the left slot. He ran the route 10 yards downfield, and it looked like it was going to be a crossing pattern. After the second step in, Tennell cut back to the outside and ran a flag pattern.
The quarterback for Irving threw a solid ball about 30 yards downfield and dropped it over the outside shoulder of Tennell, who caught it in stride and turned up down the sidelines. The 52-yard pass play would set up another of Evans' touchdowns a few plays later.
Another good play made by Tennell was during one of those rushes by Evans where he bounced to the outside. Tennell noticed that the play was coming toward him, so he turned toward the play and took out a linebacker who was chasing Evans down the line. The block freed Evans for an additional 7-8 yards on the play. Tennell also served as the deep returner on the kickoff team. In fact, the 6' 5" player returned a kickoff 45 yards after bouncing off a tackle around the 20. It was interesting to see someone so tall returning kicks.
However, both players weren't perfect on the night. Evans did fumble one time inside Irving's 30-yard line, which set up a touchdown for Coppell. Tennell also dropped a pass on the sideline that was very catchable. However, these players made up for the lapses many times over, and you have to remember that they are still only juniors in high school. But they have already made the recruiting list for the Class of 2006 on this website. These two players will be very high on the recruiting lists from the state of Texas next year.