Same leg, different field for DWU’s EversLeif Evers entered his first college football game loaded with nerves.
By: Chris Aarhus, The Daily Republic
Leif Evers entered his first college football game loaded with nerves.
The placekicker from Mitchell had plenty of experience kicking a ball around as he played soccer for most of his life.
However, Evers got a little uneasy in the Dakota Wesleyan football team’s season opener at Dordt College (Iowa). He missed two extra-point tries in the first half.
“The first (half) of my first game was kind of a trip,” Evers said. “After that, I was fine as far as the transition goes.”
Since then, Evers has been perfect on extra points and has drilled seven of his 10 field goal attempts including a season-long 46-yarder in a win over Hastings College (Neb.) at home on Oct. 16. All three of his misses have come from around 40 yards, but he’s also made two 40-yarders.
“It’s been fun; it’s been different,” Evers said. “It was something new.”
Evers and the Tigers host Briar Cliff (Iowa) in a Great Plains Athletic Conference clash at 1 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field.
DWU (4-4) has relied on Evers’ leg for consistency, but coach Brad Pole admits the team hasn’t used Evers as much as they could.
“We probably haven’t kicked enough field goals because he’s a pretty good weapon,” Pole said. “He’s a nice addition to the club. He’s done a good job.”
Defensive back Jordan Gau knew Evers while he was on the DWU men’s soccer team. Gau convinced Evers to give kicking a football a chance.
“Gau called me up and said they needed a kicker,” Evers said. “The only time I’ve ever kicked (a football) in my life was in a homecoming game my sophomore year when they needed me. That was six years ago.”
Evers started kicking and eventually, the two convinced Pole to come watch.
“He said I could come out (for the team) if I wanted to,” Evers said. “I loved playing soccer. I loved the guys on the team, but I just figured I’d try something new.”
Evers is quick to point out the vast kicking differences between the two sports.
“In football, you kick it as hard as you can all the time,” Evers said. “In soccer, you rarely kick it as hard as you can. You don’t see a lot of guys with huge legs in soccer because you don’t need it. It’s a whole different style of kicking the ball. In football, you want to get the ball up and in soccer, you want to keep the ball down.
“And there’s no goalie between the goal posts.”
Evers’ confidence since his first game continues to rise, and Pole has noticed.
“He lets it go, which is great to see versus your classic kicker-misses-one-and-he’s-in-the-doldrums,” Pole said.
Pole said he thinks some soccer players may have untapped potential as placekickers in football.
“This might be a model for a lot of people to look at,” Pole said. “Find a guy with a great soccer background that has competed. They come in with a different mindset.”
Not that the Tigers have to worry about finding their next kicker. Though Evers is academically a senior, he’ll be back next year to kick field goals as he has one more year of eligibility remaining on the football field.
“I’ve only been kicking for eight weeks,” Evers said. “I hope to get a lot better and help the team (next) fall.”
Evers could see plenty of action against Briar Cliff, which sits toward the bottom of the GPAC standings with a 2-7 record. The game could be exactly what the Tigers need, after falling by a touchdown to Northwestern College (Iowa) last week. The Tigers have lost four of five since a 3-0 start.
“The mindset of the team is really good,” Pole said. “The kids are resilient. We’d like to get these last two (games) and finish on a high note. We’ve been able to finish strong each of the years I’ve been here. I don’t see why this year should be any different.”
When/Where: 1 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field.
Last Meeting: Briar Cliff won 33-7 at Joe Quintal Field in 2009.
All-time Series: BC leads 4-3.
Coaches: BC’s Tom Rethman, third season; DWU’s Brad Pole, sixth season.
Forecast: Clear skies at 56 degrees with 7 mph winds out of the south.
Game Notes: Junior David McGuire gets his first start of the season at defensive back for the injured Marcus Watson. … Despite a sputtering ground game last week, the Tigers are still second in the GPAC in rushing yards per game with 186. … Running back Josh Endres is closing in on the school’s single-season rushing record. He needs 383 yards in his final two games to break the record of 1,296, set by Fred Smith in 1989. Endres broke the single-game mark with a 316-yard effort against Hastings College on Oct. 16. … Though Briar Cliff has just two wins, it’s sixth in the league in scoring offense. The Chargers put up 38 points on Northwestern, which held DWU to just 10 last week. Sophomore quarterback Lehi Tonga is third in the league in passing yards with 206.3 per game. However, this week, freshman Tom Traficanti is set to start under center. He is 24 of 44 for 257 yards. … Dane Carlson is seventh in the GPAC with 41 tackles. … Nick Tolsma leads the nation in punting average at 44.4 yards per punt. The Tigers have the second-best red zone defense in the conference as opponents have only scored 11 of 16 times. …
Position: name, year, height, weight
QB: Jon Bane, fr., 6-4, 200
HB: Raymond Blossom, sr., 5-9, 185
H: Anthony Muilenberg, so., 6-2, 195
SE: Justin Sydney, sr., 5-10, 185
FL: Russell McGuire, jr., 5-10, 175
TE: Steve Bloch, sr., 6-4, 245
LT: Nathan Little, so., 6-3, 195
LG: Mario Palencia, jr., 6-2, 270
C: Eric Witte, so., 6-0, 260
RG: James Hansen, sr., 6-2, 265
RT: Kevin Calsbeek, so., 6-4, 280
DE: Aaron Rolen, so., 6-3, 250
NT: Brit Jones, so., 6-0, 250
DE: Zach Reker, so., 6-3, 240
LB: Dane Carlson, sr., 6-2, 250
LB: Mike Barnaud, so., 5-11, 230
LB: Jim Williams, sr., 6-2, 215
LB: Lucas Sieve, sr., 6-1, 220
CB: Jesse Holz, jr., 6-0, 180
CB: Jordan Gau, sr., 6-0, 190
S: Tom Jarding, jr., 5-11, 190
S: David McGuire, jr., 5-10, 175
K: Leif Evers, sr., 6-3, 200
P: Nick Tolsma, sr., 6-2, 220