Before football practice most days in Ypsilanti, Mich., Samson Evans enjoys a conversation with Eastern Michigan University quarterbacks coach Mike Piatkowski.
“We always talk, just about life and goofing around,” said Evans, a sophomore running back at EMU.
This season, the topics have included the prowess Evans had as a dual-threat quarterback at Prairie Ridge High School.
“I always bring it up to him,” Evans said. “I’m always chirping in coach’s ear about that. I’m just making sure he knows that at one point I was able to throw a ball in high school. So, if they ever want to go back to any plays like that, I’m always open-minded.”
This fall, Evans has become a triple-threat player for the Eagles (7-4), who are bowl eligible for only the sixth time in school history.
His 11 rushing touchdowns ranks as the third-highest total in the Mid-American Conference, and Evans is enjoying a career-best receiving year.
And, he has thrown for a touchdown in three of the Eagles’ past four games.
“It does feel a little like high school,” Evans said. “I’m glad that the coaches trust me enough to put me in a position like that. I feel like they trust me a lot. They’re putting me in positions to be successful, and that’s all I can really ask for.”
The Eagles can win their eighth game of the season – and the Michigan MAC Trophy – at 11 a.m. Friday against in-state rival Central Michigan on ESPNU. Eight wins would be the most for an EMU team since the 1987 season.
Evans has thrived in EMU’s three-back rotation with teammates Jawon Hamilton and Darius Boone Jr. He has rushed for 260 yards and 4.2 yards a carry while becoming a reliable outlet in short-yardage situations and on third downs – two key aspects of the offense.
“What I like about those situations is third down and short yardage are usually high stress and heavy blitz situations,” Evans said. “I think the coaches trust that I can handle those situations, and I’m more than equipped to succeed in those environments.”
His 17 receptions rank fourth on the team and give Evans extra duties out of the backfield.
“I’m glad that aspect of my game has been improving,” he said. “Any way I can get the ball in my hands, I’m happy with it.”
While Evans’ skill set has advanced this season, he’s seeing plenty of growth from his younger brother, Carter, an EMU freshman linebacker.
“I go against him every day because he’s on scout team,” Samson Evans said. “He gives us a great look each week. The sky’s the limit for him. I’m excited for when he gets his time.”
Loras soccer makes Final 4: Four McHenry County area women’s soccer players are part of the Loras College team that advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four for the first time in school history Sunday.
The ninth-ranked Duhawks (21-0-2) defeated No. 11 Wisconsin-LaCrosse, 4-3 in penalty kicks, to make the national semifinals Dec. 3 in Greensboro, N.C.
Junior forward Abby Eriksen (Prairie Ridge) has a team-high 11 goals and three assists this season. Fellow PR grad Emily Perhats, a senior forward, has seven goals and six assists and scored her team’s first goal Saturday in a 2-0 Sweet Sixteen victory against No. 13 Centre College.
Sophomore defender Rylee Quillen (Dundee-Crown) has four assists, and junior defender Caitlin Scopa (Cary-Grove) has played in five games.
Whitewater duo thrives: Johnsburg grad Alex Peete and Prairie Ridge’s Kyle Koelblinger earned spots on the All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football teams this month.
Peete, a senior running back, was chosen to the first team for the third time in his career. Koelblinger, a freshman defensive backs, was honored as the WIAC Newcomer of the Year and made the All-WIAC second team.
Peete has 18 rushing touchdowns this season for third-ranked Whitewater (11-0), including three in the Warhawks’ 69-7 first-round D-III playoff win Saturday against Greenville College. Koelblinger has three interceptions and ranks fourth on the team with 44 tackles. He had two interceptions in a game earlier this season and made five tackles against Greenville.
CCIW standout at NCC: Cary-Grove’s Dan Gilroy, a junior defensive lineman at North Central College – the nation’s No. 1 ranked D-III football team – was chosen to the All-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin first team this month.
Gilroy leads the team with 8.5 tackles for loss, has five sacks and 23 total tackles for the Cardinals. Gilroy had three sacks in a game against Illinois Wesleyan last month.
North Central (10-0) advanced to this week’s second-round playoff game against UW-LaCrosse after first-round opponent Carnegie Mellon could not compete because of several COVID-19 cases in the program.
FCS playoffs kick off: Jacobs grad Jimmy Wormsley has started six consecutive games at center for the Southern Illinois football team, which was chosen Sunday for the 24-team, D-I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. A sophomore, Wormsley is part of an offense that ranks 17th nationally in scoring.
The Salukis open the playoffs Saturday at South Dakota.
Huntley grad Eric Mooney, a junior defensive back for Northern Iowa, has nine tackles this season. The Panthers face Eastern Washington in a first-round game Saturday.
Holy Cross won its third straight Patriot League title and will host Sacred Heart Saturday. Freshman tight end Jacob Petersen (Richmond-Burton) had six catches for 57 yards this season.
• Barry Bottino writes about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.