France’s defending champions, the Thonon Black Panthers, have re-signed quarterback Clark Evans for the 2019 season.
With Evans behind center, the Black Panthers captured their first French title in 2019 after a five year drought and reached back-to-back French championship finals for the two years before that. Thonon won the title in France in 2013 and 2014.
The 6’4″. 240 lb Evans enjoyed an outstanding year with the Black Panthers in 2019 leading them to the title while leading the league in rushing too with 1,012 yards. He had played for Switzerland’s Calanda Broncos for the two seasons prior to that, helping them win two straight Swiss championships and in 2018 led them to an undefeated season. He played for Germany’s Dusseldorf Panther in 2016 and spent the 2015 season with the Ljubljana Silverhawks of Slovenia. A native of Tustin, California, Evans played his college football at the University of Hawaii and also one year at Colorado.
AFI: Why the decision to return to Thonon?
Evans: It was an easy choice coming back to Thonon. The Black Panthers are one of the best-run clubs in Europe and have a great winning culture. All of the people involved in the club did such a great job making me feel like part of th Black Panther Family last year, that I want to stick around as long as I can and do as much as I can for this club.
AFI: You have had a highly successful career in Europe winning three national championships. How many more years do you anticipate playing?
Evans: I want to play football as long as my body will let me. Since I started playing in Europe I have almost obsessed over my training and preparing myself for each season, and this obsession I think is the reason why I have been able to compete at a high level and will be able to continue competing as long as I keep working
AFI: Thonon won the French title this past year for the first time since 2014. What do you have to do to defend that title?
Evans: To defend our championship from last year we will have to work even harder than before. Every team we play is going to come out and give us their best game. We have to be ready for that and continue to outwork our opponents in the weight room and on the field
AFI: You have played in four different countries. What are the key differences you think in the different leagues?
Evans: I think each country I have played has had a lot of similarities with there being a couple clubs at the top and everyone else trying to catch up. The biggest difference I have seen is some countries put a lot into player development and organizational growth while others have a more win right right now mentality.
AFI: A key to Thonon’s offense in 2019 was your running ability. Will that approach change much in 2020?
Evans: We had a lot of success running the ball last year because teams would come out and try to stop our Group of Dynamic Wide outs leaving them light in the box. I don’t think our approach will change much we really just want to take what the defense is going to give us. So when teams stack the box this year we will probably be throwing it a lot more.
AFI: You have had some time to sample the food in France now. Do you have any favorite dishes?
Evans: That is probably the toughest question I have been asked in a while. In Thonon we have many sponsor restaurant and each one is great. I can’t say one dish is my favorite but I can say that I really enjoy all aspects of French Cousine
AFI: Thonon competed in the CEFL in 2019 winning one and losing one. What steps do you need to take to improve?
Evans: In order for us to compete at the highest level we need to prepare at the highest level and this year I have made it my goal to make our practices more competitive and more energetic. I will end with my all time favorite quote that I think will reign true for this season. “We do not rise to the level of our expectations, rather we fall to the level of our training” -Archilochus