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When Mike Burzawa became the new head football coach earlier in the year, he brought with him a most impressive resume that included four state titles as head coach and three more as offensive coordinator at Driscoll High School. The Evanston community as a whole knew Burzawa would bring change to a football program that had had only one winning season in nine years, but that change would take longer than the coach’s first season here that ended in disappointment. The Wildkits finished the season with a record of 2-7, a one-win improvement over last year’s 1-8 record, but not what Evanston expected or wanted.
The season really started in February with off-season training, conditioning and team meetings to prepare for fall. The players worked extremely hard through the spring and summer seasons to improve and better themselves for the team. Many argued, though, that it was the fundamentals and the mental toughness that Evanston lacked that had led to the 2-7 finish. Even though the team had a lot of natural talent and athletic stars, they said, it was the little things that led to the disappointing field performance.
In August the Kits traveled to West Chicago to open the season. Evanston was confident they would make plays and get things done, but a lot of those plans were put on hold when senior quarterback David Hirsch came off the field in the first quarter after taking a hard hit, jamming his right thumb on an opponent’s helmet. It was later determined that he’d torn a ligament in that finger and would be out for the season. Evanston fell 13-0 in their first game.
The second game brought Evanston home to face Hubbard and things looked bright as junior Antonio Sanders, a future potential star, blocked two punts and returned both for touchdowns. Hubbard proved to be too strong on the ground, though, gaining well over 200 yards rushing; they eventually won 34-20.
Arguably the biggest highlight of the season came a week later when Evanston hosted their first Friday night game ever against Maine West. Pre-game festivities included guest appearances by three current players from the Chicago Bears, a former Bear who played on the 1985 Super Bowl winning team, a Bear’s co-owner and Zach Gilford, star of the hit NBC show “Friday Night Lights.” ETHS quarterback George Sorenson, a junior, managed the game well enough to get the Kits a 21-7 win on a night to remember.
The fourth week against Highland Park brought on another change as junior Kevin Rosinski, normally a linebacker, was moved to quarterback because of his good throwing arm and play-making abilities. Rosinski threw some deep passes and ran for some good yardage, but the Kits eventually lost 28-16.
The Kits then started conference play against the number one team in the state, Maine South. The Hawks proved to be the toughest challenge the Kits faced this season, as Vanderbilt-bound star quarterback Charlie Goro put on a passing clinic against the Wildkit defense and took a seat after putting the Hawks up 49-0 at halftime, a game the Hawks won 56-8.
The Kits then traveled to Winnetka to face New Trier at the Trevians’ homecoming. The Trevians gave their home crowd a good show as they continued their winning streak against Evanston, defeating them 45-6.
The Kits came back to play their own homecoming game against Niles West. Evanston showed some real signs of firepower early on, scoring 20 points in the first half, but it quickly proved to be Niles West’s offense that showed more with quarterback Nick Grimley hooking up with WR Chris Wright four times for touchdowns, eventually winning 39-27.
After losing to Glenbrook South by a 55-7 score in week eight, the Kits wanted to end the season with a win and they had that chance against Waukegan. The Kits showed patience, and both the offensive and defensive teams played consistently enough for the Kits to pull off a 25-14 victory. That put a long-awaited smile on the faces of a group of guys who had tried their hardest to improve this program for the future.
The players have turned in their equipment, marking the end of football for 2008, but the seniors will continue on knowing the last game they played for Evanston was a victory, and the juniors know a brighter future is ahead of them in Evanston football.