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Epperly’s Athletic Roots
Evan Epperly is keeping up a family tradition of standout athletes
From left: Jimmy Epperly, Evan Epperly and Bill Epperly, pictured at Glacier High School on Wednesday. - Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon
When you grow up in the Epperly family, there’s no shortage of input or advice about sports.

“It’s more like what haven’t they told me,” Evan Epperly says, smiling alongside his grandfather, Bill, and father, Jimmy.

Not many families have an all-around sports pedigree quite like the Epperlys. The lineage of athletic family members is rooted in Bill, a Butte native who played sports growing up and began coaching in 1959. Bill and his wife Kay’s kids — Jeff, Jimmy, Joan and Julie — all were involved in sports from day one. Today the Epperly clan is a bona fide all-star roster of generations of athletes in various sports.

“From the very beginning, all the kids were in activities, since the time they were little ruggies,” Bill says, “and it just carried over to Evan.”

No doubt, the son of Jimmy and Heather has made a name for himself even among a talented group like the Epperlys.

The senior at Glacier High School is approaching the end of a first-rate prep career that has transcended into three sports. Two weeks ago he decided where his talents will go from here, and which talents those will be. He signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Montana.

It was a tough call leading up to that day. The Grizzlies’ rival, Montana State, had recruited him heavily. His aunt Julie played for the Lady Griz but his uncle Jeff was a standout basketball player for the Bobcats, so the allegiance was split in the family.

“There were different people from the family pulling me in different directions but the main theme was they all wanted me to do what was best for me and what I felt was right,” he says. “I knew they all supported me whatever my decision was.”

Before this year, Evan may have seemed destined to be a college basketball player. After all, he earned a rare starting spot on the Glacier varsity team as a freshman and has been a standout since.

This winter he’s the Wolfpack’s leading scorer and is captaining the team’s charge toward the state tournament. Last week he scored 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting and led Glacier past Missoula Big Sky, 81-63. His season average is roughly 17 points per game, in the top 10 in the state. He leads the state with nearly six assists per game.

Glacier is sitting in fourth place in Western AA at 8-8 overall and 4-4 in conference.

“Growing up I always thought it would be hoops. That was my sport. I spent a lot of time playing basketball,” he says.

But then he realized his body may be better suited for football. His senior season proved him right.

As a captain on the state runner-up football team, he turned in one of the greatest seasons in recent history, garnering three first-team all-state selections from coaches and being named the Western AA Offensive MVP. After playing only cornerback in previous years, he took on wide receiver duties this fall and caught 55 passes for 1,126 yards and 14 TDs, both team highs. He also ran the ball 16 times for 124 yards and two TDs. On defense, he had a team-high five interceptions, and tallied 51 tackles. As if he wasn’t busy enough already, he returned kicks and punts, piling up another 600 yards. He received a nod for the Montana Shrine Game, the state’s de facto all-state event for seniors.

LEFT: Glacier’s Evan Epperly (20) runs past Bozeman’s Wyatt David (26). RIGHT: Epperly reacts to hitting a 3-pointer during the second half of a basketball game against Flathead. - File photo by Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon


“I don’t know if there’s a player that I can remember that was first-team all-state in three positions,” says his grandfather, who watched every play of Evan’s along with Kay and other members of the Epperly cheering section this season.

While Evan was leading Glacier to the state championship game, he caught the attention of the Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats.

“Evan packs a punch. He’s a good tackler. He’s physical and he’s smart,” says Griz head coach Mick Delaney. “He proved that on both sides of the ball.”

Growing up in Bigfork, Evan developed a passion for all sports at the encouragement of his family.

“There’s so many people who have had a hand in him being who he is today,” Jimmy says.

“His mother and I are just very thankful to the Glacier community and coaches, teachers and his friends. They’ve all done a good job of taking care of him, supporting him and making sure he’s safe and happy.”

When it came down to it, Evan found inspiration and motivation all around him, and strived to keep up his family’s proud tradition.

“I just want to be the best I can be and play at the highest level possible. If you want to do that you have to put in the work. Being good is not the easiest thing in the world,” he says.

And sitting next to his grandfather and father, he adds, “I’ve learned everything I know about sports from these guys.”
 
On 02-20-14, Gators commented....
wow a great kid with a great family…do your best and don’t look back!  I’m rooting for you!  You got Game!!
 
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