After a tough 22-21 loss to Waukegan the week before, Head Coach Mike Burzawa knew his team would face a bigger challenge in their game against defending state champions Maine South.
In front of a packed house at Lazier Field on Oct. 1, ETHS students were celebrating their homecoming and hoped the team would put on a good show equal to their excitement. Unfortunately, Maine South came ready to play.
During the opening drive, the Hawks quarterback Matt Alviti threw an interception. What he did the rest of the half, though, more than atoned for it. The sophomore proceeded to methodically pick apart the overmatched Wildkits, connecting on 17 of his next 19 passes, including four touchdowns, on route to a, 49-8, victory to spoil Evanston’s homecoming festivities.
Alviti also added two more touchdowns on the ground while amassing 65 rushing yards – all in just two quarters of work – in the Central Suburban League South game.
After the turnover to start the game, Maine South cornerback John Fabiano stuffed Evanston running back Rendell Massie on a fourth-down play, giving the Hawks the ball back.
Maine South’s offense went to work, but a couple of penalties and a sack had the Hawks (4-2, 2-0 in CSL South) facing a third down, with 27 yards to go for a first down, from Evanston’s 37-yard line. Alviti rolled to his left and then threw back across the field to Luke Mottley, who had got behind the defense for the Hawks’ first score.
Maine South scored on five of its next six possessions to close out the half, with Alviti carrying most of the load.
Alviti had rushing touchdowns of 16 and 1 yard, and he connected with Mottley for a 39-yard TD in the second quarter on a play identical to their first scoring strike. Senior Scott Derrick got in on the action as well, hauling in touchdown passes of 15 and 66 yards.
On the other side of the ball, Evanston’s offense had anything but an easy time moving the ball against a stifling Maine South defense.
As the Hawks scored at will, the Wildkits’ first-half drive summary consisted of two punts, two turnovers-on-downs and three interceptions.
Perhaps the most telling statistic of the game was that Evanston quarterback Byron Dawkins doubled the rushing output of tailback Rendell Massie, who entered the night averaging 180 yards per game over the previous four weeks.
After the rough outing at home, Evanston did their best to put the game behind them going into Winnetka on Oct. 8, to face their biggest rival, New Trier.
ETHS senior receiver James Brown, who had scored seven touchdowns this season was injured on Thursday with a foot injury. Senior quarterback Byron Dawkins did not flinch entering last Friday night’s game at New Trier; Evanston junior receiver Victor Bordo and senior Mark Williams II showed why.
Bordo caught three passes for 84 yards that included a 57-yard touchdown and a critical 13-yard reception to keep the chains moving late in the fourth quarter to help Evanston secure a big, 18-15, win in an important Central Suburban League game.
With all the game’s points scored in the first half, the second half saw both teams’ defenses come up with big plays with their backs against the wall.
The Wildkits sealed the deal with a 13-play drive that included a 12-yard run by senior Rendell Massie (230 rushing yards, 34 carries, 1 receiving TD) on a third-and-seven and a 13-yard connection from Dawkins to Bordo on third-and-nine later in the drive with 2:50 left in the game. Massie busted a 37-yard run two plays later to put the Wildkits on the Trevians’ 13-yard line, and then got the game-clinching first down with 40 seconds left at the New Trier 2-yard line.
“We expected this to be an old-time traditional football game,” Coach Burzawa said. “For us, it started in practice. We had some physical practices and the kids carried it over. You’ve got to give our defense and coach (Steve) King and coach (Dennis) Hall a lot of credit. I was proud to see our kids execute that because we really struggled in the third quarter offensively.”
The win ended the Kits’ nine game losing streak against New Trier.
Evanston is now, 4-3, overall, and they have a real chance at making the playoffs going into their last two games. They face off against Niles West at home this Friday night and then finish their regular season schedule going to Glenview to take on Glenbrook South. The Kits will automatically qualify for the playoffs if they win both of those games; they will be an at-large team if they win at least one of them.