Huskies’ quarterback, wide receiver aim to make winning connection

When Andover Huskies quarterback Connor Wilkie takes the snap and looks downfield, he sees a wide receiver who knows exactly what he’s thinking.

Quarterback Connor Wilkie and wide receiver Tyler Evans – a pair of high-caliber Huskies set to snap Andover’s gridiron greats to a winning season. Photo by Bob Bursaw

Quarterback Connor Wilkie and wide receiver Tyler Evans – a pair of high-caliber Huskies set to snap Andover’s gridiron greats to a winning season. Photo by Bob Bursaw

That’s because wide receiver Tyler Evans played quarterback two years ago.

“It’s nice having two quarterbacks on the field,” Wilkie said, smiling at his receiver.

“We’re on the same page. We just know what each other is doing and what each other is thinking,” said Evans, a senior.

That singlemindedness first came to light when Wilkie, a junior, threw his first pass in his first game last season – a long ball to Evans, who caught the ball and carried it into the end zone.

“That was pretty sweet. That really set the stage,” said Wilkie.

And that stage is set for greatness, just ask Coach Rich Wilkie.

2012 schedule
Aug. 30 at Edina, 7 p.m.
Sept.7, Anoka, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Coon Rapids, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21, Elk River, 7 p.m.
HOMECOMING: Sept. 28, Osseo, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Totino Grace, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Park Center, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17, Armstrong, 7 p.m.

“These guys are All-Metro, All-State caliber players if they can connect enough,” the coach said.

Connecting means reading the defense and gaining ground on every play, something Evans finds effortless, given his quarterback experience.

“I’ve done everything from a quarterback’s perspective, so it makes it easy to read the defense,” Evans said.

And the Evans-Wilkie connection goes way back. Although, due to their age difference, they never played on the same football team before beginning their high school athletic career at Andover, the young men have known each other since they were boys.

That bond extends to the entire Husky football team, said Evans.

“We’ve known these guys our whole lives. We went to middle school together – Oak View. So, yeah, we already have that bond,” said Evans.

And they’ve got a quarterback-wide receiver connection that’s tried, true and ready for more.

But don’t think the passing game is the only game the Huskies put on the field.

Andover’s run game and its pass game make for a well-balance offense.

“Better speed on the offense helps stretch the field and score a few more points,” said Coach Wilkie, adding that with a solid defense and speedy offense, the Huskies should finish the regular season in the upper third of the conference with a strong showing in section playoffs.

Adding fuel to the Huskies fire, according to the quarterback and his wide receiver, is the team’s overall 1-8 record and ninth place finish to the 2011 season.

“We left last season with a chip on our shoulder,” said Wilkie.

“Ever since the season ended, we’re wanting to get back on the field – and we have,” Evans said. “We just call a couple guys and do some lifting, some running, lots of throwing. We’re ready to get back out there and show ‘em what we’re made of.”

Wilkie echoed his teammate’s victory cry.

“I think a lot of the other teams will be surprised. We may have had only one win last season, but you can’t measure hard work with numbers – and we’ve put in lots of hard work in the offseason … We’re strong. We’re fast. We’re determined. We’re ready,” the quarterback said.

Ready for what?

“Our goal is to play in November,” said Wilkie.

“Down at the Dome,” the wide receiver said, finishing his quarterback’s statement – a declaration that has the Huskies on the state tournament gridiron for gold.

Andover Huskies (Northwest Suburban Conference)

Head coach Rich Wilkie

Record and 2011 finish: 1-8 overall

Key returners:

Tyler Evans (wide receiver, leads the team in receptions)

Brandon Halvorson (offensive line)

Alec Daniel (tight end)

Connor Wilkie (quarterback)

Drew Groettum (wide receiver)

Jerrod Morgel (linebacker, had 30 solo tackles and 3.5 sacks as a junior)

Kyle Kettler (strong safety)

Austin Lorch (defensive back)

Christian Mohs (defensive back)

Jacob Drangtsveit (defensive line)

Cody Feigum (defensive line, will be a three-year starter)

Cody Butala (defensive line)

Key stats and notes:

Tyler Evans, who has the size and speed to play at low IAA or D2 level, and Connor Wilkie have All-Metro and All-State caliber if they can connect enough.

The Huskies have a lot of returning starters on defense and should be as tough as ever stopping opponents. Better speed on the offense should help stretch the field and score a few more points.

Areas of concern include inexperience on the offensive line. Coach Wilkie’s outlook for the season says a solid defense and speedy offense should keep the Huskies in the upper third of the NWSC and a challenge to win the section.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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