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Entering a matchup with Maine South, who had won 68 straight Central Suburban League South Conference matchups, the Evanston Township High School football team knew they would have to bring their A-game to upset the Hawks on Oct. 17.
The Kits put up a fight against the CSL South Conference leaders but ultimately fell short of ending the Hawks’ Conference winning streak, as they fell by a score of 46-19 on senior night at Lazier Field in Evanston.
In that game, after falling behind 14-6 in the second quarter, the Kits responded when Brandon Hilliard took a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to get the home team back to within 14-12 with nine and a half minutes left in the quarter. But that would be the closest they would get, as Maine South took a 28-12 halftime lead. In the second half, the visitors outscored the Kits 18-7 as they cruised to their 69th consecutive CSL South Conference victory.
Quarterback Matt Little led the way on offense for the Kits as he completed 13 of 25 passes for 109 yards. Regarding Little’s performance, Coach Mike Burzawa said, “We had a good rhythm in the first and third quarter and a couple [drives] in the second quarter where our offense was not able to get things going. We had one or two holding calls that stalled a drive or two.” He added, “But Matt has been doing a nice job for us. It is a process, especially at the quarterback position, just to develop. Matt has gained some valuable experience this year.”
Another solid contributor for the Kits was Hilliard, who caught seven passes for 50 yards to go with his 85-yard kickoff return. “Brandon has been explosive for us offensively, and he has been doing a great job in the return game,” said Coach Burzawa. “He had a big kick return that really shifted the momentum back in our favor. He is starting to play some defense, too. So Brandon is doing everything for our ballclub right now, and I am very pleased with his performance.” The coach added, “He is having a great year in terms of receptions and we also put him back at the running back position, so were trying to utilize his talents every which way we can.”
With the loss, the Kits’ record fell to 3-5 overall, but despite the loss, Burzawa was pleased with how his team performed. “I thought our kids competed very, very well and I was proud of their effort. We went into that game and obviously knew that Maine South has really owned the CSL South over the last 14 years. They have an amazing winning streak within our division. So we went in there and we did not want to hold anything back offensively, defensively or on special teams. Our kids believed and we competed hard. They just made a couple more plays than we did, and we had one or two mistakes that really shifted the momentum.” He added, “But I am very proud of our kids for their effort, and I am extremely proud of our seniors.”
The loss unfortunately knocked the Kits out of playoff contention, but Burzawa is proud of his team for sticking together through the ups and downs of the season. “We are proud of how our kids competed and our thing is, we just have to put it all together,” said the Coach. “We got to put a good game together all the way across the board and really have our offense clicking with our defense.” He added, “We have had two losses in the final minute [against Proviso West and Niles West] and [there has been] a lot of adversity with this team this year, but they have stuck together and that is what I am most proud of.”
Next up, the Kits take on archrival New Trier on Oct. 24 in the season finale, and if the Kits can beat the Trevians, Burzawa said that would be a big victory for the program, but he also knows what it is going to take to accomplish that.
“That would be a big win for us and we want to send our seniors out with a win and that is what we are working towards, and we want to make our community proud of our effort,” said the coach. “The keys are stopping the run game. They are very physical and they run the ball on everybody they have played this year including Maine South.” He added, “[Another key is] winning the turnover battle. We need to make some plays and create some turnovers, and we need to finish drives on offense, stay on our blocks, and be solid in the special team game.”
If the Kits can do all of that, look for them to be in position to knock off their rivals, end the season on a positive note, and gain some momentum looking ahead to the 2015 season.