A year after one of the most disappointing seasons in Evanston Township High School football history, some people may find a welcome change in this season’s program. Following a 1-8 record in 2007, athletic director Chris Livatino knew the program needed a complete overhaul, starting with the firing of former head coach Anthony Johnson, who led the Wildkits to only one playoff trip in eight seasons at the helm.
The next on Mr. Livatino’s to-do list was to announce that the stadium would undergo construction and would go from a grass surface to a brand new field turf surface, which promises to outlast regular grass and is built to be used 24/7 with any sport. In January it was also announced that a new coach would be named who would bring the good old days of Evanston domination back to the Chicagoland area.
Clouds of speculation hovered over who the new coach would be; it turned out to be none other than Mike Burzawa, or Coach Buzz as he is used to being called. Burzawa comes from a spectacular football background that includes having been a state champion player at Driscoll High School, where he later went on to coach. As coach, he won an outstanding four straight state championships and an almost unheard of 41-1 overall record. He is credited with having created one of the most powerful offenses in Illinois history.
But these days a new chapter comes to ETHS, where, according to Coach Buzz, pre-season and training camp are going smoothly: “We had a good preseason and we are just getting started with training and learning the fundamentals and the new offense, and the effort has been great along with the enthusiasm.” Many have known the talent in ETHS has been around and Coach Buzz thinks the talent pool is just fine. “I think we have a great talent pool. We just need to develop more guys in certain positions and that’s going to take time, repetition on both sides of the ball,” he said.
Coach Buzz started his job officially in July and has worked just over a month. He has already pinpointed the team’s biggest flaw — something this team lacked and which every team must have. “The biggest thing,” Coach Buzz said, “is to develop our mental toughness, because this game is as much mental as it is physical. We need to understand there are a lot of battles within a football game, and you need a short memory on the field more than anything.”
Coach Buzz also is seeing camp as a competition for almost every position, especially for quarterback, where three players — David Hirsch (senior), George Sorenson (junior), and Kevin Rosinski (junior) are competing for the starting spot, although it is expected that Hirsch will be the favorite throughout camp.
According to Burzawa, the players who need to step up the most will be the seniors, not only bringing in their skill, but also their experience. Some seniors looking to step up will be John Tinkham (linebacker), Anthony Dufek (defensive tackle), Lacory Cork (defensive back),
Marcus Lang (safety) and Ben Levine (wide reciever). And if the Kits want to make a statement that they are officially back, it will be at the first game against West Chicago on Aug. 29, to whom Evanston lost 23-3 last season. It will be there and then that the Kits will try to show everyone that not only do they have a new coach, a new staff, a new stadium and new uniforms, but they are a whole new kind of squad.