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The Evanston Township High School football team took on Glenbrook North on Sept. 27 and the Wildkits capped the school’s week of Homecoming festivities with a 49-10 victory at Lazier Field in Evanston.
After the Spartans took a 3-0 lead, the visitors looked poised to face a 10-0 lead after a 45-yard Spartan completion, but any thoughts of that happening were erased when defensive back DeVaughn Bell forced a fumble and recovered the ball, giving the Kits the ball back on their own 14-yard line. On the very next play, quarterback Sean Cruz connected with receiver Peter Braithwaite for an 86-yard touchdown, giving the Kits a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. On the Kits’ next possession, Sean hit receiver Jeremiah Lasley for a 78-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 14-3, the score at halftime.
After the teams left the field for halftime, they did not return to the field until the next afternoon as rain and lighting in the area forced the contest to be postponed. But once play resumed, the Kits’ defense picked up right where they left off, as DeVaughn intercepted a pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown, giving the Kits a 21-3 lead with 10:38 remaining in the third.
After forcing the Spartans to punt on the next possession, the Kits regained possession of the ball and senior running back Quadre Nicholson capped a scoring drive for the Kits with a five-yard touchdown run with 7:44 remaining in the third, making it a 28-3 contest. Quadre made his season debut then, as he was forced to sit out the first half of the season due to foot and hip injuries.
But Quadre was not done at that point, as he scored another touchdown from 39 yards out on the Kits next possession to make it 35-3 with 3:46 left in the third.
From there, junior Tyron Inniss ran 16 yards for a score with 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter, further extending the Kits’ lead to 42-3.
The Spartans responded with a touchdown with 6:21 remaining to close the gap at 42-10. But that was too little too late for the visitors, as the Kits iced away the victory from there with the exclamation point coming when Kits’ 290-pound defensive tackle Khiyran Monroe forced a fumble, recovered it and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown, making the final 49-10.
“I thought we handled the [postponement] pretty well. Our kids came in focused and locked in for the meetings [prior to the restart of the game the following morning],” said head coach Mike Burzawa. “But I thought the play of the game was when we were down 3-0. DeVaughn got beat on a post-corner route and instead of giving up on the play, he hustled, joined in on the tackle and stripped the ball. So instead of it being potentially a 10-0 lead, we score on the next play and its 7-3, so that was a big swing. But because it was perseverance, it was hustle, it was grit, and it is what we talk about so I am proud of the kids. It was a very delicate situation coming off a loss where you are basically blown out and then you lose at the end [last week against Fremd]. So it took a lot of leadership by our kids and by our coaches to stay together and rally and we did that.”
Coach Burzawa said of the team’s defensive performance, which totaled five sacks and held the Spartans to just 10 points, “I thought we had a great defensive game plan and that was important, especially to start the second half. We did not give them an opportunity. They had some momentum in the first quarter offensively, but we shut them down the rest of the game. So the boys got to the ball and they showed up in a bad mood.”
The Kits’ offensive attack was led by Sean, who threw for 245 yards and two touchdown passes, along with Quadre, who carried 13 times for 102 yards, including touchdown runs of five and 39 yards. Regarding their performances, Coach Burzawa said, “It was good to have Quadre back in the mix, obviously, and Sean played real well [also]. He has been playing well for us. A young quarterback’s best friend is the running game. So we are trying to get all that together.”
With the victory, the Kits snapped a three-game losing skid and improved to 2-3 overall. Coach Burzawa said it was important to get back in the win column. “You want to taste victory. You put so much work into it, along with your heart and soul, so it was good to be on the winning end,” he said.
The Kits will look to remain on the winning end when they take on Maine South on Oct. 4, followed by a matchup with archrival New Trier on Oct. 11 at Lazier Field.