BOONEVILLE (KFSM) - In the pre-season, Booneville topped all the lists in the 3A as the favorites to win state. One major key to their success came out of all-state quarterback Brandon Ulmer.
But in the world of sports, things can change at a moments notice. Even with things different than originally planned - the Bearcats haven't lost a beat.
Just one quarter into the season, Ulmer went down for what would be the last snap of his high school career. Enter: Evan Schlinker.
"As soon as I saw him go down, I knew it wasn't good," Schlinker remembered. "I was nervous and I was like this is the time I gotta step up. Gotta take over now."
"That was kind of scary seeing him go down, but Evan, my cousin, I knew that he could fill the shoes of Ulmer," added Booneville center Sammy Haynes "He wasn't quite ready yet, but I knew he could do it."
Nobody outside of the Booneville squad would've known that Schlinker didn't feel ready. Since taking over, the Bearcats have outscored their opponents 254-94, and #12 has made a seamless transition to calling the signals.
"I got a lot more reps in practice. Got more comfortable with the offense and people I'm working with," Schlinker said on his progress. "Just got a lot more comfortable. Started knowing the playbook better - that's the main thing."
"He reads the option real well. He can do that. What's impressed me the most is his ability to pass the football," Booneville coach Scott Hyatt said of his quarterback's talent. "He's really got a high percentage completion rate, so I'm proud of that."
Schlinker follows in the footsteps of his father who was the Booneville quarterback in the 90's, and he looks to lead the team in the biggest test of the season this Friday against undefeated Mansfield.
"Mansfield's got a really good football team. They're throwing the ball well. They're scoring a lot of points," Coach Hyatt said of the matchup. "We've gotta not have breakdowns in coverage. We've got to be able to hold onto the football, keep it out of their hands. That'll give us an opportunity to win."
"Gonna be a big rivalry, always is. Gonna be two undefeated teams," Schlinker added. "As it sounds, a very close game. It's gonna be a good one."
Booneville will host Mansfield Friday night with kickoff scheduled for 7pm.