After a tough loss to Niles North on Sept. 11, Head Coach Mike Burzawa knew his team would learn from a bad game. The Wildkits knew they had to step up and start playing to their potential as their schedule would get progressively tougher going into conference play.
Evanston faced off against inter-conference rival Deerfield at Lazier Field on Thursday night, Sept. 17, where it was clear the lights were not the only things shining. The game could not have started any better for the Kits as junior Antonio Sanders took off on the opening kickoff for an 85-yard touchdown, putting Evanston up 7-0 in the first minute of play.
Coach Burzawa seems to have found that the key to success on offense is the strength of the running game. So far 5-foot-7, 165-pound junior running back Rendell Massie has shown himself to be a star, and he has stood out in the Kits’ deep running attack. Massie ran for a career high 191 yards on 16 attempts against Deerfield and is looking to rack up some more career highs as his work-load gets heavier.
Coach Burzawa said, “I think there’s a bit of a misconception about our system. … I have always believed in running the football. That’s the only way to win games in the state of Illinois in November (state playoffs), by running the football.”
He added, “You have to adapt to your personnel. We have kids who can play physical, and you need bread-and-butter plays like that you can rely on. Our goal is to rush for 250 yards a game and tonight I thought we were extremely physical.”
Massie himself gained 150 yards in the first half of the game against Deerfield, while Evanston as a whole – including seniors Chevy Daley, Darrell Sheppard and Sanders – rushed for an impressive 341 yards in the game.
Evanston dominated in every quarter as senior quarterback Kevin Rosinski tossed an 11-yard touchdown to fellow senior captain Josh Perryman to put the Kits up by 14 later in the first quarter. Evanston then went back to a steady rushing attack, with Sanders scoring from 37 yards to put Evanston up 21-7 at halftime.
The second half was no different. Evanston stayed on the ground, and Massie got into the end zone from 29 yards to put the Kits in the driver’s seat. After a Deerfield touchdown pass, Evanston fired back for their final score in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Sheppard. The Kits prevailed, 35-14, against the Warriors, improving their record to 2-2.
Next week was homecoming, and the opponents were the Waukegan Bulldogs. Once again, the Kits’ running game took control from the start. Like the last game, Massie led the running attack with 157 yards on 15 attempts, with two touchdowns to show for it. Backing up Massie, Sanders ran for 108 yards on only 7 attempts, scoring once. Evanston ran for 314 yards to dominate their second straight opponent in what seems to be the turning point in the Kits, season.
Once again, Evanston’s defense did a good job, holding Waukegan to only 14 points. They held sophomore quarterback Akeem Springs to 13 completions on 40 pass attempts, with one touchdown and one interception. Evanston won their second game in a row for the first time in years, beating the Bulldogs 36-14 and bringing their record to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play.
Coming up for Evanston is the number one ranked team in the state, Maine South at Park Ridge. The Kits then play at home against long-time rival New Trier.