The task in front of Ty Evans when his sophomore football season started was an unenviable one. He had to step in for one of the most prolific quarterbacks the area has seen.
Evans was filling the shoes of Isaiah Sanders, who accounted for more than 6,000 yards of offense and 69 touchdowns in his Palmer Ridge career, before moving on to the Air Force Academy.
"Being able to watch Isaiah last year was a blessing for me," Evans said. "Seeing him play with that kind of confidence, yet be so humble, put a lot of pressure on me this offseason. But I accepted it, and wanted to go out and make plays.
"We would talk about our relationship last year as he was the Jedi, and I was the apprentice. He took me under his wing, and it was like a big brother-little brother relationship, and I was blessed to walk into that kind of situation. He still talks to me now, and gives me advice."
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Evans has been applying what he learned from Sanders, and has flourished through most of the Bears' first six games.
Palmer Ridge is 4-2, and Evans is slinging the ball all over the field. Last week, he compiled 435 passing yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions, in a 41-21 win over Lincoln.
"We have very high expectations for Ty - our team has them for him, and he has those expectations for himself," Palmer Ridge coach Tom Pulford said. "We knew we had something very special with Ty when he was a freshman last year playing at the sub-varsity level. He has a lot of potential, and it's very exciting to see how he's playing already."
Evans has 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions through six games. He's spreading the ball around, as four wide outs have at least 230 yards receiving, led by Bryan Boatman (406 yards and four scores) and Cory McLellan (397 yards and four scores).
"My line gives me all the time in the world to do what I need to do, and I couldn't have thrown for that many yards and touchdowns without my receivers making plays," Evans said. "It definitely isn't just me; it's our whole team working as an efficient unit."
Pulford says his first-year starter is maturing quickly, and already has the right mindset and temperament to lead the program for the next three years.
"Ty has that ability to flip the switch between joking with someone in between reps in the weight room, and then turning on the intensity to finish his last set," Pulford said. "He has a good mix of strong work ethic, competitive edge and being a great teammate."
Evans was surprised by the stat sheet from the Lincoln game, and didn't think he had thrown for that many yards. He says even with the experience - and success - he's had so far this season, he still feels like a sophomore at times.
"It's funny, because each week I think it will get easier and the nerves will start to go down," Evans said. "But every Friday when I wake up I feel that pit in my stomach. I like it, and it gets me more hyped before a game and gives me an edge."