After finishing last season with an overall record of 3-6, the Evanston Township High School football team looks to bounce back and have a solid 2015 campaign.
Last season marked the first time since 2009 the Wildkits missed qualifying for the IHSA playoffs after qualifying for four straight seasons from 2010-2013. So if the Kits can qualify this year, it will give head coach Mike Burzawa’s squad five playoff appearances in the last six seasons.
“In general, we are really hungry, the spirits are high, the energy is high, and we are hungry to avenge last season’s disappointment and continue to honor [the late defensive coordinator] Steve King with our effort every day and have a winning football season,” said Coach Burzawa.
“Our theme this year is “one pack, one goal.” That embodies the wolf pack mentality that Coach King brought to our program and that is one of our goals to become one pack and that the guys really care about each other on and off the field. The one goal [on the field] is you always want to win a Conference championship,” Coach Burzawa explained. “[But] we are not going to worry about [qualifying for] the playoffs or things that are going to happen potentially three to four months from now. [For now] we are going to focus on training camp, and it is on us as coaches to put them in position to have a great year and be successful.”
In order for the Kits to make that happen, they will need solid contributions from the 11 returning starters including quarterback Matt Little and running back Micquel Roseman. The other returning starters are defensive back/ wide receiver Tray Banks, offensive linemen Christian Nielsen, Morgan Brown, Johnathan Connerly Bey, Frank Zoltan, Naquan Jones, linebacker Jalan Jenkins, and safety/linebacker Immanuel Woodberry. The Kits also return six lettermen including fullback Justin Woods, wide receiver TeArthur Hunt, running back Kendall Coleman, running back Chris David, linebacker Griff Jenson, and defensive lineman Justin Tobin.
In addition, the Kits welcome wide receiver Chris Morrow, linebacker Charlie Krause, defensive back Brad Garron, and linebacker Ben Easington to this season’s roster to help carry the load.
Regarding his expectations for Matt Little this season, the Coach said, “I am excited about Matt; obviously. He is a returning quarterback; I have only had a couple of them in my time at Evanston, but Matt is physically big, he has got a strong arm, can stretch the defense, and I think Matt had a nice offseason and worked hard to improve his mobility and worked on his speed, and I think he can be a factor for us in the run game as well. As a quarterback, Matt needs to be the general of our offense.”
Not only will the Kits have an experienced quarterback in Matt, the run game should be solid as well with returning starting running back in Micquel, along with Kendall and Chris backing him up. Regarding that position, Coach Burzawa said, “Micquel is a downhill runner, he is very productive in the run game, and obviously a pretty athletic kid too, [and] I really like Micquel’s style. Also emerging [in the backfield] is Kendall. He will be one of our backs back there getting an opportunity, and we are going to have Chris in the mix [as well] so we will have a tailback by committee a little bit.”
When asked which teams he is looking forward to playing against, Coach Burzawa said, “I am excited for our fourth annual Hall of Fame game versus Proviso West [on Aug. 28 at Lazier Field in Evanston]. We split the series with them the last two years and they are always tough kids, big and physical, so that will be a challenge for us right off the bat,” explained the Coach. “Then for the first time ever we play Notre Dame in football in week two [on Sept. 4]. From there we travel to Central Suburban League powerhouse Glenbrook North [on Sept. 11]. Then we open the CSL South [division play] against New Trier at our place [on Sept. 25] and then we finish on the road against Maine South [on Oct. 23]. So we have a challenging back half of the schedule ahead of us.”
In order to come out of that schedule with a winning record, Coach Burzawa says, the key is staying healthy and in how the team prepares every day. “We got to keep our team healthy and avoid those big injuries and I think [another key to success] is just being selfless and having the guys put their teammates ahead of themselves and be consistent every week, prepare to go 1-0 each week and to not look ahead, not look behind, not worry about things that are not in our control, and just to focus on what we can control in our daily preparation and in school and in practice,” the Coach explained. “And if we do the right things in terms of preparation, I think good things are going to happen to us.”
With opening night just over two weeks away, look for the Kits to utilize their experience along with their hunger to avenge the disappointment of last season in order to be in position to qualify for yet another postseason appearance come late October.