By LACY LUSK
No matter how talkative and forthcoming Forest Park defensive end/fullback Bryan Evans may seem in person, he says he’s a little different from his brother in one regard.
”No, he’s a little nice, actually,” Bryan joked, when asked whether his game mirrors that of James Madison University starting defensive lineman Sid Evans.
The 5-foot-11, 215-pound younger football-playing brother certainly has a soft, thoughtful side; he’s involved in Forest Park’s integrated technology program and he has already qualified academically to play college football. But in the Bruins’ 4-4 defense and as a blocking back on offense, the 2002 all-Cardinal District selection can be downright mean.
Evans had five sacks a year ago and is looking for his first this fall. The player whom coach Jerry Williams calls perhaps the strongest in the four-year history of the program can bench press as much as 330 pounds and squat 525 pounds five times in succession. He was a force again last Saturday, as the Bruins defeated Woodbridge for the third time in the past five meetings.
”I’d say the greatest moment for me with Forest Park football was the first time we beat Woodbridge [21-19 in overtime in 2001],” Evans said of the program’s first varsity victory. ”That was my sophomore year and we beat them again later that year. It seemed like that was the first time we learned how to win.”
This year, the Bruins (1-3 overall, 1-0 in the district) aim to climb the Cardinal standings after a 35-30 win over Woodbridge. With games at Gar-Field on Friday and at home against Hylton on Oct. 11, they can make a mark in district play.
”After winning last week, it’s been great to be out here this week,” Evans said after practice Wednesday. ”There’s more intensity on the practice field. Everybody’s moving faster. People are actually looking forward to practice.”
Sophomore running back Ryan Lee rushed for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Woodbridge game, and he should be a key player again Friday night at Gar-Field (2-2, 0-1).
”It was fun just watching him,” Evans said of Lee. ”I’d give a little bit of a block and he would just take off. Honestly, I don’t think any kids in the district can outrun him.”
In the preseason, Evans tried playing linebacker but the Bruins’ coaching staff decided he was too valuable on the line. Playing at left-side defensive end, he often uses his strong legs and upper body to power past offensive linemen.
Evans also knows quite a bit about technique, as he has shown on the wrestling mat. At 215 pounds, he won a match in the Group AAA state tournament last season.
As a freshman, Evans attempted throwing the shot put and discus for the Bruins’ track team. That experiment didn’t pan out. ”I barely even competed,” Evans said.
In football, however, he was more of a natural. And he has been able to turn to his brother for advice on occasion. Sid Evans played at Osbourn Park and the family still lives in that school district, but Bryan attends Forest Park for the IT program. The elder Evans is studying integrated science and technology in Harrisonburg.
This fall, Sid played against top-10 Division I-A foe Virginia Tech in a 43-0 loss. ”He said the guys [at Tech] are bigger and faster, but it’s not like JMU felt totally crushed,” Bryan said. ”The little guy can hang in there with the big guy.”
Bryan, meanwhile, has heard from JMU’s coaches this fall but has yet to receive a scholarship offer. He’s hoping to get at least a Division I-AA opportunity by the end of the season.
”Honestly, I’d be ecstatic about Division I-A but I-AA’s probably more like it,” Evans said. ”I just really enjoy playing this game, whether it’s running the ball, blocking or playing defense.”