Cruisers Hanly and Evans play in all-star football showcase

Cruisers Hanly and Evans play in all-star football showcase

Cruisers Hanly and Evans play in all-star football showcase

On Jan. 17, the fifth annual Cleats vs. Cancer All-Star Showcase game was played at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell.

Eatonville High School seniors Julian Evans and Blain Hanly were nominated by their coaches and selected to play in this game.

Both played for the South team, which picked up the win over the North team, 20-16.

“Being selected for this game was an honor. This was not about me, this was for a greater cause, which I love,” Evans said.

Evans said he was playing the game in honor of a couple of people. One was his girlfriend, Taylor Limbird’s grandfather Arthur Ray Flowers, who recently passed this past November. He was also playing in honor of Trinity Potter, who is currently battling cancer. Potter works at Eatonville High School and is married to Cruiser football assistant coach Wes Potter.

“The highlight of the day was being able to play in one last game with my friend Blain,” Evans said. “We have been playing together since third grade.

"Knowing this is my last game as a Cruiser is hard to grasp,” Evans said. “All the glory to coach Gavin Kralik and coach Wes Potter for forming me into the man I am today."

Hanly said knowing that was his last game of his high school career also left him feeling emotional.

“It threw a lot of emotions at me,” he said. “I was sad that it was our last game, happy I got to play one last game and ball out at the next level. Also, it made me really nervous for the future. Now I have to find a new home for four years.

“Playing in this game was a huge honor,” Hanly added. “Julian and I really worked hard and got to see it pay off.”

Both Hanly and Evans now set their sights on their post-high school plans. Both have offers to play at the next level but are deciding on the school that fits them best.

Cleats vs. Cancer was founded in 2018 by Derek Sparks, former Washington State running back and 1994 Alamo Bowl veteran. It is the first high school all-star game to feature many of Washington's outstanding senior football players. The proceeds benefit children and families battling cancer.

Sparks, who was an assistant coach at Pacific Lutheran University and a football coach at Kennedy Catholic High School, started Cleats vs. Cancer after his daughter, Ze'Lee, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2018. She is now cancer-free. In August of 2021, Sparks was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, of which he died Nov. 23, 2021.

"Winning the game was really exciting, and being able to honor Coach Sparks during the game that he created was special,” Hanly said.


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