Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Red & Purple Interview: Central's Reid Evans


Welcome to the first edition of the "Red & Purple Interview" where ADvantage Catdome will interview various people that have been involved with Linfield College Athletics. Not only will we talk to former 'Cats of the past but track down various Wildcat past opponents that many Linfield faithful will remember.

Breaking the ice for us is former Central Dutch standout Reid Evans (Center 1997-2000) who was the player that picked up the muff kick in the 2000 overtime thriller that lead to the winning touchdown that would be instantly dubbed "The Miracle in the Mud".

Reid is currently in his 7th season on the Central Dutch coaching staff (offensive line) and I think you'll see that Central is fortunate to have such a class individual still involved with their program.

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Hi Reid,

Thanks for joining us at ADvantage Catdome for our first edition of the "Red and Purple Interview". I know there are a number of Linfield fans that would love to kill...er...hear from you so we'll just jump right in:

(WC11)- Going into that 2000 playoff game with Linfield, did your staff have any idea that the field would turn into that big of a mess and did the Dutch have much experience playing on sloppy fields?

(Reid Evans)- Our team did not prepare any differently for field conditions. Our Friday practice before the game we practiced on some sort of community field and it was sloppy there, so we got as good of a look as possible the day before the game. Coach Kacmarynski (our head coach) always stressed that field conditions were the same for both teams, so it shouldn't matter what they were. We had practiced in everything from sunshine to snow to rain, although I don't recall playing in a game where it rained that much. We always felt like we needed to play our best game, regardless of the opponent--this was just the next game on our schedule. We were just excited that we weren't playing on a frozen field like we had the week before!

I will say that the field at the beginning of the game looked immaculate. It would have been a great surface if it hadn't rained throughout the entire game!!

(WC11)-During the game, Linfield scores on their first possession, you come right back with Koerselman finding McCullough for a TD strike. Were you surprised that the game bogged down after that exchange or did you feel it was going to be a struggle for both teams to score?

(RE)- Our defense has always been the strength of our program, and that year wasn't very different. Our offensive philosophy was to take care of the football and play the field position game, trying to take advantage of the other team's mistakes and hopefully wear out our opponent, so I'm not surprised that there wasn't more scoring. If I remember correctly, both teams had turnovers in the red zone that could have changed the game. I believe Linfield threw an interception and we had a fumble going in. Both teams could play great defense, so I would have been more surprised if it was a high scoring game.

We really respected Linfield's entire team, offense, defense, and special teams. I'm sure there are plenty of players and coaches that say the game would have been different if we would have played on a dry field and I agree, but I don't think the game would have been lopsided either way. We were two very evenly matched teams and were used to winning close games.

(WC11)-We’ll skip ahead late into the game. You get that ball back with only a few minutes left, deep in Linfield territory, and Koerselman gets picked on the Linfield 5 on what felt like a forced pass. At that point were you just trying to get within FG range or was the field so sloppy you were thinking “touchdown or nothing”?

(RE)-I remember the play. Our receiver slipped (imagine that!) as he tried to plant to jump for the ball. We definitely wanted to score a touchdown, but would have felt confident getting a close FG opportunity as well.

(WC11)-OK, let’s get to the good stuff. We go into Overtime and Linfield gets first crack. We stall on a three and out and send our kicking team out and Scott Cannon (our PK) splits the uprights for the 3 spot. Your Dutch get the ball and also don’t convert a first down on your first three plays and your field goal unit comes on the field.

At that point was the mud and rain creeping into your mind about snapping the ball and if Tim O’Neil (Dutch Kicker) was going to be able to get decent footing?

(RE)-I was very confident in snapping the ball. I had dealt with a wet ball the entire game as the center, so I wasn't too concerned about it. My most difficult challenge was hearing our holder give the "set" cadence. It was so loud on the field, he yelled it three times before I finally heard him. I wasn't so sure of Tim's footing since the field was so torn up, but I had confidence he would make the kick.

(WC11)-Obviously you don’t see O’Neil slip in the mud and kick the ball into the LOS. Did you feel the ball hit you or did you just see it on the ground?

(RE)-I did not feel the ball hit me. In fact, that is one gray area we have here in Pella. We have no one that claims to have been hit by the ball. Either we didn't feel it because of the moment, or one of the Linfield players blocked it. Linfield ran a very tough, and somewhat questionable, FG block where the two offensive guards were pulled away from the center by defensive linemen (the questionable part) and two linebackers came over my shoulders to make the block. I believe that one of the Linfield players was actually struck by the ball, but I could be wrong.

After the snap, I didn't hear the normal thud of the kick. That's when I looked down, and the ball was right at my heels.

(WC11)-….so you pick up the ball and it looks like a rugby scrum but then you add Linfield’s bench running onto the field along with some fans. Where did you find Joe Ritzert in this melee? Did he rip the ball away or did you hand it off to him? BTW…you can also come clean and tell us that the handoff was a forward lateral!

(RE)-As soon as I picked up the ball I wanted to start moving forward. I got about one step and was immediately hit by what seemed like 5 or 6 Linfield players. In fact, I believe I was held up and prevented from going to the ground because there were guys all around me. I knew that I needed to get the ball out of my hands. Lucky for me, I was actually turned around by the mass of players holding me up, and I was facing our own endzone. I was hoping at that point to just throw the ball backwards so that someone would be able to pick it up and run for a first down---the thought of a touchdown never crossed my mind. I just wanted a fresh set of downs!

As I was attempting to get rid of the ball, Joe was there in my line of vision. It was one of those weird times, where we both knew what to do. I did my best to push the ball up to where he could grab it and he reached out and took the ball from me. I was still facing our own endzone. Immediately after he grabbed the ball, the net of players holding me up collapsed and we all went to the ground. I still remember the noseguard, who was one of the best defensive linemen I played against, laughing and thinking the game was over. Of course, I knew I didn't have the ball...

(WC11)- So we all know Ritzert slips away into the endzone, the officials signal a TD but there is just mass confusion in the stadium. What was the feeling like on the Central Sideline after the play when the officials circled up to confer if the mishap/miracle would stand or not?

(RE)-I would describe the feeling as cautious excitement. Because the officials did signal a TD initially, I would say most people believed the call would stand. I knew how things went down from my standpoint, and believed that the TD was the right call. It was fortunate for us, and unfortunate for Linfield, that none of the officials got whistle happy, and they let the play unfold. I know they made the correct call, as much as the Linfield contingent doesn't want to believe



(WC11)-Hey, I’m still in denial it didn’t happen! :)

I know it must have been a pretty wild feeling when the officials confirmed the TD. Tell us what it was like when you made it home to Iowa. You had a playoff game to get ready for the next week but there had to be a lot of media people wanting to talk to you. Was it a circus?

(RE)- It was definitely a wild feeling when the officials signaled for the final time that it was a TD. When we got back to Iowa, we had a couple of the local television stations come and do interviews. It wasn't too much of a circus, but enough for an offensive lineman!! It was more of a circus telling everyone on campus than anything else. Our SID, Larry Happel, does a phenomenal job of handling the media for the college. I wouldn't say it was a distraction as we prepared for our next playoff game.

(WC11)-Was that play the defining moment for your playing career? I mean, here we are still talking about that play seven years later, it’s part of a book, and when you say Reid Evans around a Linfield tailgater it’s usually followed by an expletive. (only kidding)

(RE)-I feel honored that someone outside of Central remembers me, even if it is with anger!! :) I would guess a lot of people would call it a defining moment in my playing career, but I don't really think of it that way. I really think that it was a small part of my time at Central as a student. Just being part of a great group of people and having success with what we were doing was the best part of my 4 years at Central. I think that is why so many people love Division III, and specifically Division III football--the experiences and relationships you build.

(WC11)- I have to say that without that play maybe Linfield doesn’t get the 1.5 million dollars a few years later to upgrade the facilities that help Linfield win a title in 2004. Does it feel weird to think that you may have started a chain of events that would have a historical impact on Linfield’s program?

(RE)-I have a hard time believing that the facilities at Linfield played that large of a role in the national title run in 2004. I believe a great group of talented athletes and coaches that worked together were the reason the 'Cats were champions. Facilities are great and all, but it's the people that make a program.

Oh, and in case I am wrong about the facilities and their role in the title, "Where's my ring??" :)

(WC11)- Thank you very much Reid for talking about this game between two outstanding football programs. It was a wild finish that nobody will forget. I hope the ‘Cats and Dutch will get a chance to play again soon. Take Care!

(RE)-Hey, it's been fun reminiscing a bit. Keep up the good work with your blog--it's a great way to keep people connected. I also hope the Dutch and 'Cats can meet again. Maybe in Iowa next time :)

9 comments:

Yves Beulynxx said...

Ryan- You are the man. That is all I can say. Awesome interview.

Wildcat11 said...

Thanks Yves..however it takes two to tango and Reid was great in trading e-mails with me. Not sure how other players are going to react when I contact them. We'll see!

Downtown48 said...

WC---see if you can interview the all-american corner from UWLAX that got out jumped and then got his chest stepped on right before Casey went for like 60+ in the playoffs. Is he available? Wait a minute...I want Sticks!!! If you can land that interview you'll start to rival the chicks on The View!

Wildcat11 said...

DT,

Sticks doesn't know how to read or write so contacting him via email is out.

However I was thinking of getting in touch with Andy Collins to see if he still have tire tracks on his chest from 04-05.

Downtown48 said...

Good point on Sticks...I still feel bad for that dude Collins. He got ZERO help in either one of those beatdowns...he was a player...

Beancounter said...

WC11 just told me who "Sticks" is so I can be in on the inside joke. Catching up with Sticks would be cool....google his name and see what you find!

As for the UWL guy, he was a pretty good player (all WIAC two or three seasons)...Casey Allen was just a bit better on that play.

Downtown48 said...

No, you're right...I'm sure that dude could play, there weren't many guys on any team that could handle Allen...

lnd said...

the cats won 3 titles before the fake field was installed.
lnd

Wildcat11 said...

lnd,

I know that Linfield won three titles playing on grass but Linfield's 2000 team was built on speed and the brutal surface that year hurt Linfield more than helped.

Add to the mix that I think people didn't want to see any more Linfield playoff games being played at Willamette.

The field turf has been nothing but a positive for the program and I'm more than happy they installed it.