The Evanston Township High School football team opened the season with hopes of capturing a victory when they took on St. Pat’s on Aug. 30 at Lazier Field in Evanston.
Thanks to a strong effort on the defensive side of the ball, the Wildkits beat the Shamrocks by a score of 38-0.
In that game, the Kits took a 3-0 lead when kicker Fredrick Eberhart connected on a 38-yard field goal attempt with 11:44 remaining in the second quarter. From there, just one minute later, the Kits extended the lead to 10-0, when linebacker Sebastian Cheeks intercepted a St. Pat’s pass and returned it for a touchdown with 10:44 remaining in the half.
After the Kits defense forced St. Pat’s to punt, the Kits took over on offense and extended the lead to 17-0 when quarterback Sean Cruz connected with receiver Peter Braithwaite for a 65-yard touchdown with 8:17 remaining in the quarter.
The score remained 17-0 at halftime, but Sebastian made it a 24-0 game after returning his second interception for a touchdown with 6:49 remaining in the third.
At that point, some fans in the stands might have thought the Kits had the game in hand and would have just tried to run out the clock.
But not in this game, as the Kits defense kept battling and added two more touchdowns over the course of the final quarter and a half to make the final score 38-0.
Those scores came after a fumble recovery for touchdown by linebacker Judel Vilus late in the third quarter and yet another interception return for a touchdown, this one from defensive back DeVaughn Bell early in the fourth to all but secure the victory.
“I am real proud of the kids. We came out and we executed. Our defense got to the ball and we had 11 orange helmets to the ball and they showed up in a bad mood. So that was what we were looking for. We have a lot of respect for St. Pat’s and we know they play in the East Suburban Catholic Conference and they were coming here and this was our Hall of Fame game and I could not be more proud of the kids and their effort,” explained head coach Mike Burzawa.
“Offensively, we got a few big plays, but the story of the night was we were sound in special teams, the coverage was great and our defense got to the ball and had some takeaways and that was big.”
The Coach added, “It is great [to get a win to start the season]. It was the Hall of Fame game, [ETHS Athletic Director] Chris Livatino does a wonderful thing. This is a big tribute to a lot of awesome alums and we wanted to make sure we do our job and the kids came out and did their jobs.”
Coach Burzawa said of Sebastian, who had two of the Kits’ four takeaways on defense, “In the long run, I think he is going to be a great two-way player for us. We just wanted to get some of our younger guys good at one side of the ball and it worked out [against St. Pat’s].”
The Coach continued, “He had great reaction, made great plays, so that was awesome. But it is a team game, we win as a team. If those guys [defensive linemen] are not getting the pressure, maybe the ball is not there, so that was great.”
When asked to evaluate Sean’s performance [completing six of his eight passes for 92 yards and a touchdown], while making his debut as starting quarterback, Coach Burzawa said, “I thought he did well. He threw the ball well and he had a big shot to Peter. That was a perfect strike down the field. But we have to get a lot better on offense, we have to clean up a few penalties, but the effort and attitude was awesome.”
With the victory, the Kits are 1-0 on the season and will look to make it two in a row when they travel to Lincoln Way West on Sept. 6.