After beating Wheaton North in the season opener on Aug. 24, the Evanston Township High School football team looked to make it two victories in a row when they took on Taft on Aug. 31. The Wildkits were able to do just that as they beat the Eagles by a score of 41-25.
In that game, the Kits wasted no time getting on the board as Ben Tarpey connected with Michael Axelrood for a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game to take a 7-0 lead. After the Kits forced the Eagles to turn the ball over on downs in their first possession, the hosts extended the lead to 14-0 when Ben hit Gerrad Lamour for a 57-yard touchdown pass with 8 minutes 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter. From there, Taft made it 14-6 [after missing the point after attempt] with just under one minute remaining in the quarter when they scored on a 40-yard touchdown pass.
Then after a rain/lightning delay of over an hour and a half at Lazier Field in Evanston, the Kits took control of the game as they scored four unanswered touchdowns over the course of the second and third quarters to take a 41-6 lead. Those scores included a six-yard pass from Ben to Michael with 8 minutes 53 seconds remaining in the second. That duo would connect again on a four-yard touchdown pass with 1 minute 52 seconds left in the half. From there, Cion Miller-Smith scored on a 13-yard run with 2 minutes 53 seconds remaining in the third, and backup quarterback DeVaughn Bell scored on a five-yard run with 43 seconds remaining in the third. The Kits point after try was no good, keeping the score 41-6.
In the fourth, the Eagles rallied off three straight touchdowns of their own [but missed two of the three point-after attempts] to get within 41-25 with 1 minute 13 seconds left, but that was too little too late at the Kits held on from there, capturing their second victory in a row and improving to 2-0 overall.
“Taft played tough football. Last week they were down to St. Pat’s and they rallied back. So they played tough,” explained head coach Mike Burzawa. “We were able to execute in the air early and get some big plays then we had the delay, so it was a strange game in terms of the timing. But there are a lot of things we have to get better at, so we will watch the film.”
Ben might enjoy watching the film of this game as well, as the senior quarterback led the Kits’ offensive attack by completing 10-of-16 passes for a career-high 214 yards to go with four touchdown passes. “He came out razor sharp, our coaches did a good job designing some plays that we thought were going to be there and we executed them,” said Coach Burzawa regarding Ben’s performance against Taft.
Regarding his team’s ability to stay together during the lengthy weather delay and then be able to pull away in the second and third quarters, Coach Burzawa said, “That was good. I thought we came out after the delay and we executed.” The Coach continued, “We put up two scores in the second to kind of regain control of the game. We did not finish as strongly as we would like, but that was definitely a positive.”
Next up, the Kits take on Conant on Sept. 7 at Lazier Field. When asked what the keys to victory are going to be, Coach Burzawa said, “We just have to regroup. It was our first week of school [leading up to the Taft game] so there were a lot of things going on. So the keys to victory are always going to be field position, not turning the ball over and things like that.”