With the minutes ticking down in the second quarter of a 3A state semifinal game, Palmer Ridge football fans collectively held their breath.
Ty Evans, the three-star quarterback recruit, captain, and leader of the unbeaten Bears was down, writhing in pain on the sideline.
“My whole arm was on fire and I got the wind knocked out of me,” Evans remembers. “It was the first big hit I took all season, so I was just laying there, and I was like, ‘I’m done. This is it.’ ”
After what Palmer Ridge fans will surely recall to be the longest halftime they can remember, Evans trotted out of the locker room with a yellow wrap around his left elbow and began warming up on the sideline.
It only took a few plays from scrimmage for Evans to tear the wrap off - dramatically, as his teammates will remember, and get back into position as if nothing had happened.
Ty Evans doesn’t go down that easily.
“I was trying to get out of bounds, but I got hit by like four guys at the same time,” Evans said. “A facemask hit me right in my funny bone, which I didn’t know at the time, and my arm was on fire. But after I calmed down and got my breath back I realized it was just a stinger, and nothing was going to stop me from playing in that game.”
It’s a family trait, according to Evans.
Get to know your 2017 @gazettepreps 3A-1A Football Peak Performer of the Year - @EvansTy18.— Lindsey Smith (@LindseySquints) December 17, 2017
Find out who his biggest inspiration is, what he listened to before every game, and why he chose Rocky Creed as his #PeakPerformer poster.https://t.co/H9AufKHPPS pic.twitter.com/39SrCoNj8B
“That’s our whole mentality in our family. Unless you’re in a wheelchair, you have to be out there playing and get the job done,” he said.
His fight, raw talent and leadership on the road to the Palmer Ridge Bears’ first football state championship is why he is The Gazette Preps 3A-1A Football Player of the Year.
Evans has always been good. He threw for more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns last season in his first year at starting quarterback, which earned him Division I offers from across the country. He continued his success as a junior, topping the state in passing yards with 3,627.
But it was his leadership that made the most impact on the Bears as they reached a perfect season.
“I think I kind of transformed this year,” Evans said. “Last year I had to focus on me, because as a little sophomore, you have to step up and be that starting quarterback, you have to focus on you. But this year I was able to think and focus on the team to make sure everyone is focused and ready to play.”
It started in the offseason when he transferred some of his incomparable work ethic to his teammates as they aimed to become the best program in the state - a goal five years in the making.
“As a sophomore he executed at a very high level, and coming into his junior year he did a phenomenal job of working hard throughout the offseason with his teammates and putting in time beyond the halls here at Palmer Ridge as well,” Bears’ coach Tom Pulford said. “But the thing that I think gave him the most traction with his teammates is his personal relationships with the guys and the way that he treats everybody on and off the field.”
Evans’ strive for greatness began in spring of 2016 when he decided to dedicate himself to his future on the gridiron.
“I’m trying to go to the Hall of Fame,” Evans said. “I have offers, alright. I have a state championship, yeah. But I haven’t arrived yet. There are a lot of people with state championships out there, and there are a lot of people who play college football. But I’m trying to do bigger things.”
And he’s certainly on his way.