Atmosphere helps Thonon Black Panthers QB Clark Evans enjoy playing in France

After a postponed game in the first round, championship contenders for the French title, the Thonon Black Panthers, cruised to a decisive opening game 51-0 win over the Aix-en-Provence Argonautes in France’s top league last weekend.

The lopsided win was also thanks the an outstanding debut performance by Thonon’s new quarterback, Clark Evans. The Tustin, California born signal caller completed 16 out of his 21 passes for 198 yards and threw 5 touchdown passes. In addition, Evans led all rushers with 132 yards on 11 carries. This was the first game in France for the quarterback. He had already gained Europe-wide recognition for his two seasons with the Calanda Broncos in Switzerland where he won two straight championships. He also played for Germany’s Dusseldorf Panther in 2016 and spent the 2015 season with the Ljubljana Silverhawks of Slovenia. He told AFI that the surroundings in France also helped him feel comfortable in his new home.

American Football International: 51-0! Was the game as easy as the score indicates?

Clark Evans: No football game is ever easy. I think we came out with a good game plan and executed fairly well, still need to clean some things up and always strive for perfection.

Photo: Aixelane

AFI: How did the offense look?

C.E.: I think our offensive coaching staff has done an excellent job getting us prepared for this season and it showed in our game this weekend. We were able to stick with the plan and our base stuff worked very well.

AFI: Very good start for the season but your first game was postponed. Did it mean doing anything different in preparation for the Argonautes?

C.E.: I think it gave us a big advantage. We were able to get a good scouting report on our opponent and come up with a good plan while they did not have any film on us making it difficult for them to prepare. We also had an extra week to fine tune the same plan we had in the first game.

Photo: Aixelane

AFI: You have been through one game in France. Was it different than what you had experienced in Switzerland?

C.E.: It is hard to say a difference at this point some of the little things about football are taken care of a little better here in France but I think both leagues are showing promise and growing the right way.

AFI: Was it difficult to get used to the new system? 

C.E.: Playing football as long as I have makes it easy to adapt to a new system especially when our staff changed our system from the previous years to fit more with what I have been doing my entire career

Photo: Aixelane

AFI: How did adapting to the team atmosphere go for you?

C.E.: I love this group of guys. After being in such a great organization in Chur with the Calanda Broncos I did not think it would be that easy again to be accepted as one of the guys (especially after how it was on some of my previous clubs) but this group immediately made me feel at home and welcomed me as one of their own. I am very excited to see how far this group can go together.

AFI: What was it like getting used to France?

C.E.: So far Thonon, France, and the Panthers organization have made it very easy for me to live here. I love the small city feel of Thonon. This part of France is so beautiful and the people have been very welcoming. The city shows lots of support for our club. Which in mainly has to do with all the wonderful people involved in our club from our President Ben Sirout to everyone else that takes even the smallest part in our club they do an amazing job. Love you Xavi.

László Makranczi is a radio reporter, announcer and American Football journalist in Hungary. He lives in Debrecen and works for the Hungarian American Football Federation. Studied at the University of Debrecen, got a master’s degree in American