East Valley receiver Gage Burland and the multifaceted JT Phelan proved worth the preseason hype.
“They make plays,” Knights football coach Adam Fisher said, adding their multiple threat poses problems for opposing defensive coaches. “Both guys are so smooth, have great body control and understand the big picture.”
During East Valley’s season-opening 37-21 nonleague victory over visiting Sandpoint Friday night, the pair certainly made their presence known.
In the first quarter alone, Burland scored twice for a quick 16-0 lead, one on a 62-yard pass from Phelan off a punt fake, and Phelan caught a second-quarter 21-yard TD pass giving the Knights a 22-6 halftime advantage.
Burland would add an interception and 59-yard TD reception and Phelan a scoring catch in the second half as the lead stretched to 37-3 after three quarters.
Between the rushing, passing and receiving they accounted for 200 yards of offense and nearly every point in the season opener.
“It’s my first year playing both sides and I was pretty tired for a while,” said Burland who attributed his sure hands from his dad, adding, “Our quarterback (junior Connor Ramm) did a great job for his first year on varsity. I thought he’d be skittish, but he wasn’t.”
Proving the Knights aren’t one-dimensional, the strong-armed Ramm threw for 141 yards and three scores. And he averaged over 40 yards punting with his strong leg.
Senior running back William Nixdorf rushed for 93 yards.
Sandpoint had its moments, but was stymied until scoring three times against Knight reserves in the game’s final nine minutes. Kyle Perry rushed for 90 yards and a score and caught two touchdown passes for 94 yards in the fourth period.
The game was flag-filled – and several potential penalties went uncalled – as emotions ran high for both teams.