A year ago, Ty Evans was an unproven, skinny sophomore quarterback just trying to show he could lead Palmer Ridge's offense. He was supremely motivated.
"I had to prove myself," Evans said.
This season, the motivation has only increased.
"I have to prove myself again," Evans said. "I take responsibility for the whole offense."
Let's just say he did a nice job Friday night in taking responsibility. Palmer Ridge bolted to a 46-point halftime lead over Sand Creek and showed mercy in the second half to settle for a 49-3 victory.
Evans threw six touchdowns, but said he was looking forward to what he knows will be a film session full of criticism Saturday morning with coach Tom Pulford.
"I told the coaches to be as hard as you can on me," Evans said a few minutes after the victory. "I expect perfection out of myself. I expect a lot of my team."
Evans, a junior, already has committed to play for Arkansas. He and Pulford frequently use the words "perfect" and "perfection." Both realize they'll never arrive at perfection. Both chase it anyway.
"We'll go back on film and we criticize some of his decisions," Pulford said. "We'll look for ways he can do things a little better."
Evans is not just talking. He believes in, and practices, self-criticism. In other words, he has an extremely difficult time impressing himself.
In the first quarter, Evans threw a bullet of a pass to teammate Cory McLellan. It was a tight spiral. It had tremendous velocity.
"But I left it short and to the inside," said Evans, grimacing.
In the huddle, Evans offered a quick apology to McLellan and promised, "I'll get it to you next time."
He kept the promise. A few plays later, Evans found McLellan in the back corner of the end zone. Evans lofted a pass, and McLellan did a superb job of dragging his foot inside the stripe.
"It worked out," McLellan said, laughing. "That's the kind of guy he is. He'll never settle for anything better than the best. If it's not perfect, then it's not his standard and he'll work for it until he gets it."
FINAL: pic.twitter.com/a6SRUQGpY7— Lindsey Smith (@LindseySquints) September 2, 2017
For Palmer Ridge, the victory served as an announcement to 3A. The Bears' offensive line performed superb work in giving Evans time to throw, which left Sand Creek's secondary without a chance.
If Evans remains well protected this season and has time to scan enemy defensive backfields, there's no limit for Palmer Ridge.
For Sand Creek, it was a bitter start to what coach David Ramirez hopes will be a turnaround season. The Scorpions have lost 20 of their past 21 games.
"We're going to bounce back," Ramirez said. "We're going to be just fine. We're going to learn from this. One half of football is not going to define this team."