Brad Calcote had big plans for Evan Clark a year ago. The expectation was for Clark to play early, often and all over the field as a junior in Calcote’s first season coaching the FCAHS Aggies, but less than two games into the 2018 season, an injury threw a wrench into those plans.
In week two, the Aggies were playing host to Perry Central. About a minute before halftime, Clark received a handoff and took off running only to be chased down from the back by a much bigger player. For reference, Clark is listed at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds on MaxPreps.
“The dude was probably 250 pounds,” Clark said. “He just landed on me and I heard something pop, but I wasn’t real sure what it was.”
Clark had broken his collarbone. Three days later, he underwent surgery known as plate fixation, which entails attaching a plate with screws to the outside of the bone. For the next three days, he sat in a recliner in a sling. Clark thought for sure that his season was over.
However, after seven weeks of physical therapy, Clark returned to play in the Aggies’ final two games. His doctor made the risks abundantly clear.
“Right where the plate stops, there’s still about an inch of bone before it hits my shoulder,” Clark said. “He said that right there, there’s a huge break factor for 12 weeks.
“It was super important for me just to play those last two games. There’s nothing more important to me than football, and just to get those last two games made me feel a lot better.”
Clark’s first game back came at division rival Sumrall. After making a tackle, he rolled over and landed on his shoulder.
“I kinda started feeling some pain, but I just kinda put in the back of my head,” Clark recalled. “Then I never really thought about it or felt it until after the game.”
Calcote remembers Clark walking in the weight room a week later and power cleaning 250 pounds like it was nothing.
“He’s hard-headed, and that’s the best thing about him and the worst thing about him,” Calcote said.
Make no mistake, Clark is a difference-maker.
“When he’s on the field, it’s different. If it’s 4th and 1, he’ll get one-and-a-half.”
Calcote’s Aggies will open the 2019 season in a little over a month, and the second-year coach, again, has big plans for Clark, who is entering his senior season and nearing 100-percent health.
“Hopefully he can stay healthy because he’s a football player," Calcote said. "He can play linebacker, slot receiver, tailback, whatever. We wanna limit our two-way guys as much as we can, but at some point, the best player has to be on the field, and he’s definitely one of our best football players.”