After qualifying for the Class 8A playoffs last season, the Evanston Township High School football team hopes to do as well if not better this season and make the playoffs once again.
“We have high expectations for our football team. We’re excited about this group. We have a nice core of returning linemen, both on the offensive and defensive lines, which is something we haven’t necessarily had in the past,” said head coach Mike Burzawa. “We’ve got guys that have been in the program for four years and in the weight room for three years and the bottom line in football is it all starts up front and we’re excited about those guys.”
Individually, the Wildkits will be led by senior lineman and team captain Zach Husain, who is a three-year returning starter. “Zach is a big part of both side’s of the ball up front. He understands our system and we’re really looking forward to his leadership on and off the field as a veteran in our program,” said Burzawa.
“Inside linebacker Jack Collins is a 150-pound linebacker but plays like he’s 200. Jack is a kid that we expect big things out of. Raymond Lackey in our secondary also has tremendous potential.
“(Also) senior cornerback Nick Tennant leads our secondary, he makes the calls. He works with defensive coordinator Steve King. So, Nick’s leadership in the secondary and in special teams is going to be critical.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Kits will be led by senior running back Justin Bishop and junior quarterback Chris Little. “Justin has bounced back from a knee injury his sophomore year and it is nice to see him back at full strength. Last year he was developing his skills and recovering from that injury. So he’s a kid that has a lot of potential,” said Burzawa.
Regarding Little, the coach said, “We’re happy with Chris. He earned the starting job in training camp and the number one thing with him is making good decisions and his leadership. He’s doing everything in his power to do the right thing.”
One of the keys to success for the Kits is maintaining composure throughout the season. “We need to keep an even keel, be consistent in our daily approach and take care of details in every facet.”
Heading into the season, outside of making a third straight playoff appearance, the Kits have other goals they wish to accomplish on the field. “One of our goals the team set is they want to be undefeated at home and another one is that we want to win the [Central Suburban League South] division,” said Burzawa. “Obviously our division is real tough with Maine South, Glenbrook South, New Trier, Niles West and Waukegan.”
The Kits took one step toward that goal when they opened the season on Aug. 24 and beat Lincoln Park, 42-0, at ETHS’s Lazier Field. The Kits were led by Little, who threw for 72 Yards and two touchdowns. Running back Alex Vergara ran for 78 yards and scored two touchdowns, and Bishop ran for 39 yards and a score.
“We did a good job of playing to the whistle and we were able to get our second- and third-string players in there in the first half and I thought we were well prepared,” said Burzawa. “We executed very well.”
Next up, the Kits face Zion-Benton on Friday night at Lazier Field, in search of a second straight victory to open the season.
“We’ll see what we’ve got this week and this will be a much different test for us against Zion-Benton.”