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No longer will Evanston fans have to watch drills, hear about who will play what position or wonder when the varsity squad gets to practice in pads. Training camp is in full swing, and coaches as well as fans are seeing who has come to camp ready and who cannot take the rigors of how head coach Mike Burzawa runs his two-a-day practices.
In the past several weeks, many have wondered how new starting quarterback Max Block has progressed. He says he thinks things are coming along quicker than expected.
“We’ve had 7-on-7s, some good practices, and I’ve had some private sessions with my coaches going through all of the mechanics, making sure I’m staying on top of the ball and watching a ton of film,” Block said. “And I bring out some receivers, too.”
Perhaps the most difficult task to complete when switching positions is re-learning the playbook, which Block said he has mastered.
“I know all of it,” he said “I learned all of the routes being a receiver sophomore year. So I know how to do all of the runs. I’ve got it down pretty good.”
Block’s improvement can be traced directly to his work with assistant coach Ryan Healy beginning last spring.
“I think I’ve made monumental improvement from last year to this year, and that’s because Coach Healy is the best quarterback coach in the state of Illinois,” Block said. “He’s actually re-taught me how to throw the football, and he’s shown me how to get the ball out quicker, too. Now I need to improve on my consistency and my patience out there. That’s one thing Coach has been stressing all summer.”
Other positions being watched closely in camp include defensive back, wide receiver and linebacker. The Kits have added former Northwestern and Chicago Bears wide receiver Dwayne Bates as a defensive back coach and his players are definitely listening to what he has to say.
“So far we have made some progress but we’re not quite there yet. It’s understandable because we have only been in camp for a week and a half, so I’m sure the other coaches and I will find out who wants to really compete because pretty much all of the defensive backs spots are wide open,” Bates said. “I’m really excited to find out who steps up, because so far they all look really hungry for the open spots.”
One of the most versatile players on the team is senior Ricky Clark, who did not play much last year, but is not only vying for a cornerback spot in the starting roster this year, but as a wide receiver as well. Clark may be remembered on last year’s varsity basketball squad as a key reserve. He says he’s ready to show the coaches that he can play on both sides of the ball.
“I didn’t play much last year because I didn’t really focus on football as much as I did on basketball, and the seniors from last season’s team pretty much had their spots on lockdown. But now that I’m a senior and a lot of the positions are open, I’m willing to show everybody how hard I work on the field,” said Clark. “I can’t wait to start full contact hitting-that’s when the real fun starts.”
Many have also wondered how star defensive end and tight end Leonard Garron is looking. His expectations are as high as they were a year ago when he shined on both sides of the ball. To date, he is not disappointing anybody on the field.
“I think it’s going well so far,” Garron said. “I know that a lot of people, including the coaches and myself, are expecting me to really step up on defense and offense and I’m really looking forward to it. We have our first game in about two weeks and we’re all eager to get some revenge on Loyola on our home turf since they beat us in the season-opener last year.”
The Kits’ season opener is at Lazier Field next Friday night against the Ramblers. It is a sure thing the stands will be packed with Evanston fans, eagerly waiting to see the beginning of a possible season of redemption after the last game played in Evanston was a first round playoff loss back in October. Fans are hopeful the Kits will get off to a good start to their new season.