When opposing teams walk into Vince McAneney Stadium to face Pennsauken -- like Cherry Hill West will on Friday night -- their defenses will have this name on their minds: Deswa Evans. Now in his second year as the starting quarterback, Evans is a focal point of the Indians offense and an electric mixture of quickness and agility.
But you would never know that from talking to him.
“He’s a quiet kid,” Pennsauken head coach Clinton Tabb said. “He’s silly but quiet. That is one of the things we are trying to get him to understand. The quarterback is the leader. They are going to look to you. So he has stepped into a larger leadership role this year as a senior captain.”
Evans isn’t the stereotypical star quarterback. He isn’t going to scream on the sideline or yell during practice. He keeps his emotions in check, which can be a positive.
“I’ve seen the ‘rah-rah’ quarterbacks who let their emotions get the best of them,” Tabb said. “He never really gets like that. He’s calm, cool, and collected. The biggest thing we try to deal with is when he has a bad play, get it out of his head. He has grown so much in that aspect since he was younger.”
The quarterback Evans tries to emulate on the field is the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, his favorite player. It’s not just because Newton is an impressive combination of speed, passing ability, and athleticism. Evans tries to emulate the spirited but relaxed persona of the NFL star.
“I like to go out and just have fun,” Evans said. “I try to be energetic on the field. Not play too strict. When I play loose I may throw an interception, but I can just brush it off.”
This added maturity has paid dividends on a team lacking experience. When Evans lines up under center, his group of pass protectors includes three sophomores and a freshman. Fortunately for Evans, he is at his most dangerous when he is forced out of the pocket.
“When I look up and see a hole, I know it’s go time,” Evans said. “They can’t stop me. I really am a dual-threat quarterback. I can get out of the pocket. I can run, and if the linebacker comes, I can dump it over his head.”
The running comes easy to Evans. He grew up playing running back. However, it was his arm that caught the eye of Tabb early in Evans’ career at Pennsauken.
That arm was on display last Friday night, when Evans hit freshman wide receiver Ejani Shakir for a 50-yard touchdown en route to a 32-13 win over Paul VI.