By Steve Millar
Welcome to varsity football, Devin Turner.
Turner, a freshman quarterback, was brought up to varsity for Evergreen Park’s Class 5A playoff opener night Oct. 26 and made his debut a quite memorable one.
Turner threw four touchdown passes and ran for another as the 16th-seeded Mustangs stunned previously unbeaten and top-seeded Payton, 63-34. The game was played at Lane Stadium on Chicago's North Side.
“(Turner) led our freshman team to an undefeated season,” Evergreen Park coach Jerry Verde said. “We’ve had some highs and lows at quarterback.
“He throws a better ball than the upperclassmen and he has a little more speed. He picked up what we do quickly, so we gave him a shot. He came in and had some success.”
Turner completed 4 of 5 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for 72 yards and a score on eight carries.
Evergreen Park (6-4) will host Elmwood Park (8-2) at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The Mustangs’ run to the second round was even more unlikely considering what happened in Week 9.
Evergreen Park entered the game 4-4, needing a win to be playoff-eligible. The Mustangs appeared to be out of postseason contention after an apparent 17-7 loss to T.F. North. However, the Meteors were found to have violated a South Suburban Conference rule by playing a player in that evening's junior varsity and varsity games.
T.F. North forfeited the game, giving the Mustangs the fifth win they needed to make the playoffs. It was the second time this season Evergreen won by forfeit.
“We put that all behind us by Monday,” Verde said.
Will Tharps (85 yards receiving, two touchdowns), Karlton Carpenter (79-yard touchdown catch), Robert Streater (74 yards rushing, two touchdowns), Myron Harris (74 yards rushing, touchdown) and Sean Wilkinson (one rushing touchdown, one receiving touchdown) all had big nights for the Mustangs.
“We probably played one of our best games of the entire year and it was the right time to do it,” Verde said.