Whether the Wildkits won or lost last Saturday afternoon the students were going to have the biggest party of the year at nightfall, although a victory over Niles West earlier in the day would not have hurt. The Kits dropped their fourth straight game, losing to the Wolves 39-27, bringing Evanston’s overall record to a disappointing 1-6.
Coming into the game, the Kits were already eliminated from playoff contention and a guaranteed losing season but that did not stop them from playing as hard as they could against a team almost more equal than any other team they played this season. Niles West also came in with a 1-5 record but arguably had more offensive weapons than Evanston and that was the big reason why Niles West was favored in this match-up.
Early in the game it looked as if Evanston was going to take control. In the Wolves’ second drive they were forced to punt after a good defensive stand by the Kits; and just like what happened in week two against Hubbard when Antonio Sanders blocked two punts and returned them for touchdowns, Sanders delivered again. He blocked the Wolves’ punt at the 6 yard line and then fell on the ball in the end zone, putting Evanston up early 7-0 and putting the homecoming crowd in a cheerful mood.
But the Wolves then jumped all over the Evanston defense, led by quarterback Nick Grimley and WR Chris Wright, who seemed to connect on every play throughout the first half.
It was almost a personal homecoming for RB Leonard Panion who was formerly a Wildkit himself in his freshman and sophomore years but transferred to Niles West, where he quickly excelled as a tailback, coming back to hurt the team whose uniform he once wore. Panion rushed 256 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown, most of the yards coming in the second half after Grimley was done tearing up the Evanston secondary.
The Wildkits showed a lot of potential on the offensive side of the ball despite the loss. Junior Kevin Rosinski got the start yet again at quarterback and had a pretty solid game in the air, completing 19 of 24 attempts for 281 yards and throwing three touchdowns. Another Wildkit junior, Chevy Daley, got the start at RB, as regular starters Darrell Sheppard, Lacory Cork and Antonio Sanders were put on defense, due to the injuries that plagued Evanston’s top defensive players. Only three of Evanston’s six captains were healthy, as John Tinkham, Marcus Lang, Anthony Dufek, and Eric Janicki all suffered serious injuries that kept them out of play Saturday.
But the real story throughout the game was the show Nile Chris Wright put on catching four touchdown passes from Grimley who had an impressive day putting the ball perfectly into Wright’s hands as the 6’1 senior seemingly got the ball all day whether he was covered or wide open.
The halftime score was 32-20 after an exciting two quarters; the second half was not as exhilarating as the Wolves just looked to kill the clock as much as possible and eventually spoil an early party. Halftime festivities included a performance by the always fantastic Pomkits and the homecoming tradition of crowning the king and queen which was won by Daniel Poneman and Rebecca Gaspard both well deserving of their crowns.
The third quarter lacked the offensive firepower of the first two quarters as Niles West did their best to prevent an Evanston comeback. Both teams were scoreless in the third period. In the final period, the Wolves put the game away by handing the ball to Panion and letting him gain yards, waste time and eventually get an insurance score with his lone touchdown sprint putting the Wolves up 39-20.
The Kits scored a late touchdown of their own on a deep pass to WR Alex Wiss-Wolferding who made a great catch in the end zone, bringing the final score to 39-27.
The Kits face another top 20 team from their conference Saturday, taking on Glenbrook South who just got out of a dogfight with Maine South, losing by only 3 points. The Kits will finish off the season in Waukegan in two weeks and hope to salvage at least one more win.