Heading into this season, the Evanston Township High School football team had made three straight playoff appearances and hoped to make it four. After a 5-4 season, the Kits did just that, earning the No. 15 seed and a matchup with No. 2 seed Barrington in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs on Nov. 2.
Unfortunately, the Wildkits fell to the Broncos 23-8, ending their season. Barrington took a 3-0 lead with a field goal with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Kits senior quarterback Chris Little was intercepted on the 35-yard line. On the next play Broncos quarterback Daniel Kubiuk found Scotty Miller in the end zone, extending the lead to 10-0 with just over a minute remaining in the quarter.
In the second quarter, the Broncos extended the lead to 17-0, the score at the half. The Broncos made it 23-0 after adding another touchdown early in the quarter. On their next drive, Barrington faked a field goal, keeping the score 23-0 late in the third. On the ensuing drive, the Kits drove to Barrington’s 46-yard line. But the drive stalled from there, forcing a Kit punt after back-to-back incomplete passes to end the third.
But the Kits refused to give up. They scored when Chris Little found wide receiver Sam Bordo in the end zone from 19-yards out, a 2-point conversion, making it 23-8 with five and a half minutes remaining in the game. But unfortunately, the comeback attempt fell short and the Broncos held on for the 23-8 victory.
“I thought our defense played very well and kept us in the game. But we just could not get any continuity on the offensive side of the ball. It was a bit of a struggle on offense and I thought that hurt our team,” said Head Coach Mike Burzawa. “But the defense played great. Coach Steve King and his staff had a solid game plan. They were just able to get three big plays on us [the aforementioned interception, an unintentional fake punt, and a pass interference call, which resulted in 14 Barrington points], and that was the difference.”
On a number of drives, the Kits started with solid field position, but were unable to cash in on it, which proved costly. “We had some good field position early on, but we just could not take advantage of it,” said Coach Burzawa. “When you’re on the road, it is going to come down to turnovers, and we made some mistakes and they caught up to our team.”
Even though the Kits lost, Coach Burzawa was pleased with how his team, especially the senior class, performed throughout the season. “I am very, very proud of our senior class. It is a great group of young men. They really bought into our family, our brotherhood, our tradition and they did an outstanding job. It was just a pleasure to watch those boys grow up from boys to men. They are some great kids that we are really going to miss, and it is really disappointing to end the season in the fashion that it did.”
Seniors Chris Little led the Kits’ attack as he threw for 113 yards and a touchdown. “Chris has been our leader, Coach Burzawa said. He has done everything we have asked from day one. He is just a great role model for all the kids in our program. He was our general. He threw for over 1,500 yards and did a great job in our no-huddle offense that we run at times. I am very proud of Chris.”
In spite of the loss, Coach Burzawa said the team took positives from this game, “Just the overall experience. Being in the playoffs four years in a row is a good accomplishment. I think what they are looking for in our program is sustained success over a period of time. That reinforces that what we are doing is the right thing. I just got to find a way to get them to that next level.”
The Coach added, “I am just proud of the kids with everything they have done in the classroom [and] the fact that they bought into our program and what we stand for and really, the team concept. That is really not easy for kids to understand nowadays, that it is always about the team first. I think it has been an experience we can learn from as a program. I cannot say more about that group of seniors, and overall, I am proud of our team and of our coaches, and of this group for buying in.”