football coach Steve Hale wasn't looking forward to replacing Jacob Studdard. Who would?
The three-year starter was an All-District standout, a fast (4.7-second 40-yard dash), strong (365-pound bench press) and savvy kid who earned a scholarship to Sam Houston State University.
"Big shoes to fill," Hale said.
But Luke Evans
has been just the right man for the job.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior has filled into the inside "Sam" linebacker spot more than admirably and last week recorded a game-high 13 tackles in a 35-0 win over McCallum, a team that entered 2-0.
He was not only picked as Hutto's defensive player of the game, but he earned the Austin area Capital One Bank High Yield Student Athlete of the Week award.
"He's got better each and every week," Hale said. "That's not an easy position and replacing Jacob isn't an easy spot. But he's doing a heck of a job."
Hutto had a heck of a game in Week 1, defeating LBJ Austin 35-14. But the following week, the Hippos – yes Hippos – laid an egg in a 35-9 defeat to La Vega. That made Friday's home opener all the more critical. Evans and the Hippos didn't disappoint.
"McCallum was a strong offensive team with a lot of speed so we had our work cut out," Hale said. "But the whole defense stepped up. Luke led the charge."
Evans isn't just a defensive stalwart. He plays about 30 snaps each week at fullback too. That makes him invaluable, Hale said.
He's third on the team with 27 tackles overall, following senior linebacker Tim Shomba
(30) and junior linebacker Brooks Baack
. Another junior linebacker Ryan Robison
and senior defensive back James Felderhoff
have 26 tackles apiece.
"(Evans) is just a real hard-working kid," Hale said. "He's one of those rare players who does a lot of little and big things."
It's those sort of little things that have helped Hale and Hutto turn the program around.
His first year in 2010, the Hippos went 9-2 and won their first district title in 32 years. Last year, they backed it up with another 9-2 season and they're off to a 2-1 start thus far.