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After a long and hot summer of practices, skills competitions and 7-on-7 drills, it is time for most high schools, including Evanston Township, to start training camp, where the most important roster decisions are made.
Luckily, the Kits have found out through their summer practices that they have some important positions filled and Head Coach Mike Burzawa is confident in his early decisions.
“We’re really excited about what we’ve seen from [starting quarterback] Max Block,” Coach Burzawa said. “He’s worked as hard as anyone in the offseason. He’s taken the same approach as Byron Dawkins did for us last year. He’s the first one in the weight room and the last one to leave. He really seems to be a student of the game, and he catches on quickly. He asks a lot of questions and really tries to understand what the coverages are.
“Quarterback is a critical position for us,” the coach continued. “He’s the general of the offense out there, and hopefully he’s a guy who is a leader for you on and off the field. He needs to be mentally and physically tough. Max is a smart young man who will give us the ability to both throw and run because of his mobility in the pocket.”
Block started at quarterback for the sophomore team, and then focused on defense as a junior. Now he’s hoping to be the go-to guy on offense.
“There’s a lot of pressure on me – and I like it there,” Block said. “Playing safety last year, I learned all of the coverages and that’s really helped me as quarterback, too. … [H]alf the battle [is] knowing the coverages and knowing what the defense is thinking out there. We have a ton of great athletes on this team and I’m just trying to get things going in the right direction for the team.”
Block’s leadership will be just as important as his ability to convert an out pattern on third and short, according to the coach.
“One year when I was at Driscoll I moved a guy to quarterback on Aug. 10 just because he was the best leader we had,” Coach Burzawa recalled. “Another year when I was there we had a quarterback who took all of the reps all summer, but it turned out to be a terrible experience because when we put on the pads, he couldn’t throw against a rush. Until you get up against a rush, you don’t find out if a quarterback can stand in that pocket and deliver.
“We struggled my first couple of years here because we had to play musical quarterbacks, and last year we finally got some stability there. We were able to tailor our offense to Byron’s strengths, and we’ll try to do the same thing with Max. His arm strength has really developed, and I’m also impressed with his short- and medium-range accuracy so far. His mechanics have been pretty solid. And having a run-pass option would be a great tool for us on offense.”
Another veteran back for the Wildkits is senior Zach Husain. The 6-2, 240-pounder started at center last season. Husain’s brother Pat, who was a two-year offensive line starter for Evanston, will be a sophomore on Tulane University’s football squad this season.
Another solid player is senior Leonard Garron, who is playing both tight end and defensive end. Garron helped Evanston on both sides of the football in 2010. Defensively, Garron had 49 total tackles with five tackles for losses, two sacks, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He also caught 16 passes for 228 yards. He has had a scholarship offer from Northern Illinois and has been to one-day camps at Northwestern, Illinois and Southern Illinois. He competed in the Chicagoland Showcase at Northwestern in June.
Evanston’s first game of the regular season is scheduled for Aug. 28, but there is a possibility that the game’s time and date could change. But until then, the Kits and Coach Burzawa have a lot of work to do; it is shaping up to be a fun month for Evanston fans.