Favorite athlete: Bo Jackson
Favorite team: Las Vegas Raiders
Favorite memory competing in sports: Beating CB West in double overtime during my Junior football season
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Getting an unsportsmanlike penalty in my first ever varsity football game. I’ve also gotten dunked on in AAU basketball, which is very embarrassing.
Music on playlist: Rap and Rock
Future plans: Play football at Lebanon Valley College and work towards getting my Doctorate of Physical Therapy
Words to live by: “You never stay the same. You either get better or worse.”
One goal before turning 30: Travel the world and become a part of a physical therapy practice
One thing people don’t know about me: I enjoy hunting
By Mary Jane Souder
Evan Kutzler had plenty of big moments on the football field last fall.
The Souderton senior was quarterback and one of four captains of an Indian squad that capped a storybook season by capturing the program’s first ever District One 6A title.
Ask Ed Gallagher about his senior captain, and he makes no mention of any of Kutzler’s clutch plays but rather a moment that went unnoticed by most.
“My favorite story remains the game where we were taking a knee at the end, and he asked me if he could take the snap from his brother Ian,” Gallagher said. “Such a cool moment and awesome to see him do something that selfless.”
The moment came at the end of the Indians’ 31-8 win over Council Rock North when Kutzler took the snap from his brother, a sophomore center.
“That’s an awesome moment that I’ll always remember,” Kutzler said. “It was really special for me because it was the first moment Ian could get into a varsity game, and for it to be with me under center was sweet.”
The siblings repeated their end-of-game exchange later in the season against Bensalem, and in a season filled with highlights, that one stood out for both coach and player.
It also spoke volumes about a player that Gallagher called a “servant leader.”
“He always puts others before himself,” the Indians’ coach said.
According to coach Tim Brown, it’s the same story in basketball this winter with Kutzler the lone captain of a young and inexperienced team.
“Ev has done a terrific job of taking these younger guys under his wing and just getting them ready for the varsity game and what they’re going to need mentally and what the speed of the game is going to look like,” the Indians coach said. “We had a bunch of seniors last year that were great leaders. It wasn’t just coming from one person.
“I think Ev has taken this whole family culture we’ve built and made it his own. Even last year, the seniors did a terrific job, but we didn’t always have the seniors talking with the freshmen. You see Ev every day – he’s coming in and talking with everybody, greeting everybody, asking everybody how they’re doing. He’s created that whole program family dynamic which is special.”
Brown might not have predicted that Kutzler would become the consummate leader when he initially met his senior captain.
“I think he was probably in third grade because that’s when I started working Souderton Basketball Camps,” the Indians’ coach said. “He was a little cocky, and by little cocky, I mean a lot cocky.
“Those camps are good, they’re fun. We try and instill a lot of basketball. A guy like Evan was by far the most talented in those camps. In the beginning, he would just take over, and he would get angry when teammates did something wrong.
“I remember one summer he was a hard camper to have to the next summer where he completely turned it around, sharing the basketball, picking up his teammates and all around just being a good kid to have within the camp, the shining light of our camp.”
Kutzler acknowledged he was super energetic and talkative. And cocky?
“That too,” he said with a laugh. “Definitely my attitude needed to change, and it was definitely my parents and coaches saying, ‘You can be confident but not cocky, so pull back a little bit.’”
The transformation, according to Brown, happened quickly.
“He made a complete 180,” he said. “Towards the end, he was awesome as far as just picking up the guys that didn’t even know how to play basketball but were just there to have fun. He got the best of both worlds, playing basketball and being a good teammate.
“He always had the skill. From third grade on, you know he was going to be playing varsity for us. He always had potential, but he’s put in the work to get to where he is now.”
As a youngster, Kutzler didn’t have to look far to find someone to emulate. His mother, Michele “Mickey” Wetzel, is in the North Penn High School Hall of Fame, starring for the Knights’ two-time SOL champion basketball squads that twice were the District One runner-up. Wetzel went on to earn a full scholarship to Temple University where she was a three-year captain of the basketball team.
“In the past, I definitely challenged her (in basketball) – I don’t want to admit it, but her shot is still pretty solid,” Kutzler said. “She’s definitely got some up on me a couple of times.”
Backyard battles aside, Kutzler acknowledged that his mother has had a huge impact.
“I always idolized her,” he said. “I wore her number 25 all through SHYBA. That’s definitely something I looked up to.”
His father, David Kutzler, played some high school football, and football and basketball were Evan’s passion from a young age.
“Ever since I can remember, I had a basketball and a football in my hand,” he said. “That’s where all my fun came from, and I had all my friends in those sports. That’s what I live for.”
Kutzler played baseball until he was 12 and also had a very brief stint with soccer as a youngster.
“I don’t remember it personally, but my parents said whenever I got on the soccer field I would just sit down and start crying,” Kutzler said. “I guess that wasn’t for me.”
Kutzler went through the ranks with the Souderton Braves football program and SHYBA basketball. He also played AAU basketball and never could pick a favorite between his two passions.
“Whenever people asked me – which sport do you like best, I like them both,” he said. “I can’t put one over the other, and it really still is like that.
“Up until junior year I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to college for football or basketball. I guess because recruiters started coming for football I primarily focused on that, but I still love basketball almost equally, for sure.”
In football, Kutzler grew up playing just about every position in the book.
“One day when we started a new season, they put me in quarterback, and ever since those early Braves days, I’ve been a quarterback,” he said.
Kutzler played quarterback and safety for the freshman team and was the jayvee quarterback as a sophomore. As a junior, he was a fixture in the varsity lineup, starting at wide receiver and safety. With the graduation of Andrew Vince, Kutzler stepped into the quarterback position this fall and also saw action at safety.
“In the summer, he'd organize a few of his receivers to get together and throw as often as possible to get everyone on the same page,” Gallagher said.
The Indians rolled to a perfect 5-0 record and the SOL Continental Conference title, advancing to the District One 6A playoffs where they upset favored Pennridge in the title game 31-17.
“The night of the Pennridge game felt like a dream, and in a sense, it still does,” Kutzler said. “It’s definitely set in the impact it’s had. We’ll be raising not one but two banners.
“Especially for basketball and other sports, it’s set an example to follow - this is what we want to be. We want to be the team that brings home a championship for Souderton. That season is still surreal, and that’s something that everybody from that team is going to cherish forever.”
Gallagher pointed to the leadership of Kutzler and his three fellow captains – Jacob Horton, Jalen White and Aonghas Evanick – as key.
“They were a really great group,” the Indians’ coach said. “Usually in the spring, we’re doing workouts and then I have the kids apply to be captains, write a letter telling me why they want to be captain, and we interview the kids as well.
“We weren’t able to do that this year, and they were the kids that stood out in terms of what we were looking for. We didn’t get to hear them say it, we watched them do it.”
In basketball, Kutzler was on jayvee as a freshman and sophomore.
“He had a good jayvee season his sophomore year,” Brown said. “Going into his junior year just looking at him and his athletic potential, we wanted him to be on the varsity floor but just didn’t think he was ready yet, so we designated him to the jayvee.
“He took that role really well. Some juniors don’t love that jayvee level. Ev completely embraced it, didn’t really ask questions. He just got better every single day at the jayvee level, quickly improved to where we knew we had to play him on varsity.”
Once Kutzler got on the varsity floor, he never left.
“He automatically belonged,” Brown said. “He went from being that eighth guy off the bench to the sixth man to the starting lineup just within a couple of weeks. We kept giving him more minutes, and he kept answering the call. He became a guy that was tough to take off the floor by the end of the year.”
Brown describes Kutzler as “an unbelievable cutter,” a description that doesn’t always fit high school players.
“He’s unbelievable off the ball,” the Indians’ coach said. “He reads the game really well – reads where to cut and when to cut.
“He’s very shifty, very tough to stay in front of and can really get to wherever he wants on the floor. He’s got a really quick first step, and he’s a pest defensively. He loves his little one- to two-dribble pull-up midrange jumper. He’s definitely improved his shot from last year to this year.”
As the only player with varsity experience, Kutzler is enjoying his role as leader and doing his part to maintain the culture that has been a cornerstone of the basketball program.
“I play a really big part in that not only being a leader by example but also talking to the younger players,” he said. “If I pass somebody in the hallway - saying hi to them and making sure we do feel like a family.
“People take that for granted, but I think if you don’t have that family aspect or that culture, you won’t be as good a team as if you would have that culture. For me, it’s just connecting on a personal basis with the younger players and making sure everyone feels they’re a part of that family, and I think culture is a huge part of our success in both sports.”
It’s not a coincidence that Kutzler has adopted a leadership style similar to his predecessor, Andrew Vince, in both sports.
“Andrew was a primary role model for me,” he said. “He’d always mentor me, and he’s definitely helped me become the person and player I am in both sports.”
Next fall, Kutzler will continue his football career at Lebanon Valley College where he is projected to play free safety. He will study physical therapy.
“The big decision for me was being able to get my doctorate in physical therapy in six years, and they have an accelerated program,” he said. “It was also the coaches – I’m super close with them.”
The decision to pursue physical therapy had its roots in sports.
“Being around people and seeing the impact (physical therapy) has – it’s definitely a big plus in my book,” he said. “I’ll be going to work and loving what I do.”
Kutzler also excels in the classroom and is a member of the National Honor Society. He is also a member of the Athletic Leadership Council and LINK Crew.
While Kutzler has made important contributions on the gridiron and on the court, the servant leadership he displayed in both sports may have been equally significant.
“That was huge,” Gallagher said. “He learned a lot from Andrew Vince last year, and Andrew was a perfect example of that.
“Evan tried to emulate Andrew as much as he could, and he really did a great job this year, picking up right where Andrew left off.”
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