WRENTHAM — Brett McEvoy smiled wide as cameras snapped around him and his girlfriend, Paige Kuchy . The two seniors were announced as part of King Philip Regional High’s Homecoming Court during halftime of the Warriors’ game Friday night against Franklin, and they painted an utterly Rockwellian image: Kuchy with her tiara and long black gown, McEvoy in shoulder pads and a grass-stained uniform, his face smudged with eye black.
“He didn’t really smell that bad,” Kuchy said with a laugh. “A little sweaty, but it was all right.”
As McEvoy posed, he knew he had somewhere else to be. When the last photo was taken, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound middle linebacker sprinted into the King Philip locker room to get the second-half game plan, his white homecoming sash dangling in the wind behind him.
It was Friday night. His mind was set on football.
“Gotta be honest with you,” McEvoy said. “I wanted to get back in there pretty bad.”
‘My dad put that mentality in me. The only time you should be off the field is if you’re in an ambulance.’
Such has been McEvoy’s attitude ever since he started playing football 11 years ago at the Pop Warner level. In that time, he has never missed a game due to injury or otherwise. He played hurt against the Panthers last week, rarely leaving the field and leading the Warriors to a 27-0 win.
With the senior captain serving in the middle of the King Philip defense, the team has run its record to 5-0 while allowing just 7.6 points per game.
“He’s everything you want in a middle linebacker,” said King Philip coach Brian Lee . “He was born to be a middle linebacker, and he plays that way for us. He’s just a tough, tough kid.”
In King Philip’s second game of the season, McEvoy sprained his ankle, which still wasn’t 100 percent by the time the Franklin game rolled around. Despite that injury — and despite a hit to the midsection that left him vomiting periodically on the sidelines in the first half — he finished the win against the Panthers with 10 tackles, a pass broken up, and an interception.
“McEvoy is having an absolute game on one leg,” shouted King Philip assistant coach Kyle Harwood as the clock wound down and McEvoy made another tackle.
“They out-physicaled us,” said Franklin coach Brad Sidwell , who praised McEvoy’s leadership on the King Philip defense. “They did a good job disguising, and we had trouble with our protections a little bit. They’re a good team. They’re certainly physical.”
Against spread formation teams like Franklin, McEvoy is the team’s lone linebacker and its quarterback on defense. He also serves as long snapper and plays on the kickoff return unit. Before his ankle injury, he was the team’s kicker, punter, and a starting tight end.
Though his injury has limited him in certain facets, he has done more than enough defensively to help the Warriors inch near the top of the Division 2 South power rankings.
“When Brett’s not there, we’re a different team,” Lee said. “That’s how it is. We don’t have a lot of depth, so he’s our quarterback out there on defense, trying to get everybody in position. And he doesn’t really have a backup.”
He hasn’t really needed one. The son of Matt McEvoy , a Marine Corps veteran, Brett has learned to be there for his teammates whenever possible. It’s a mind-set that prods McEvoy into insisting he not miss any games.
“My dad put that mentality in me,” said McEvoy, a Hockomock League All-Star last season and a three-year starter for the Warriors. “The only time you should be off the field is if you’re in an ambulance.”
Exhausted from chasing speedy Franklin quarterback Nick Zucco around the field, McEvoy came to the sideline at one point in the second half and splashed water on his face. Teammates huddled around him, slapping him on the shoulder pads, encouraging him to find an extra reserve of energy, knowing how vital he is to their attacking defense.
“He’s a beast,” said junior running back Mark Glebus, who ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns in the Warriors’ win. “He’s an animal.”
King Philip faces a challenge Friday night when it takes on undefeated Mansfield (5-0) for the top spot in the Hockomock’s Kelley-Rex Division.
No matter how he’s feeling, McEvoy won’t miss it.
“I enjoy every minute of this,” he said. “I only get so many of these games left on Friday nights. I try to play every play at 100 percent and don’t look back.”
Hang on to the ball
Shrewsbury High coach Terry Walles knew his team was up against one of the most potent offenses in Central Mass. when it squared off against crosstown rival St. John’s High (3-2) last week. So, he turned to an old football adage.
“They can’t score if they don’t have the ball,” Walles said. “We gave up three touchdowns, but against a team like that, that averages well into the 30s, we thought if we held them to three scores, we had a really good chance of winning.”
Behind a game plan that focused on winning the time-of-possession battle, the Colonials beat St. John’s for the second time in as many years, 23-22.
Shrewsbury’s trio of senior ball carriers — running backs Nick Diliberto (163 yards), Emmanuel Jalbert (52 yards, one touchdown), and quarterback Jacob McVane (97 yards, 2 touchdowns) — effectively chewed up the clock and kept the Pioneers’ spread offense on the sideline.
Walles credited his offensive line — which includes seniors Cam Mabie at left tackle, Griffin Couture at left guard, and Sam Hayes at center — with controlling the line of scrimmage and giving Shrewsbury (3-2) a chance to win at the end of the game.
Max Najarian, a 5-foot-4, 150-pound senior, blocked a kick as time expired to seal the victory, which Walles hopes can provide some momentum for his team.
Shrewsbury will face Westborough (0-5) Saturday with a chance to win its third in a row.
“We feel like we’re on the upswing,” said Walles, whose team beat Fitchburg, 23-6, in Week 5. “We just gotta keep it going.”
Phil Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.