Editor’s note: This story has updated to correct the spelling of Damarion Timberlake’s name.
So Evanston head coach Mike Burzawa can’t resist sometimes sticking his head into the running backs room during weekly practices to offer a comment or suggestion about the state of the Wildkit running attack.
One thing Burzawa knows about the current ETHS squad is that the more he sees of Damarion Timberlake, the more there is to like about the junior’s game.
Timberlake rushed for a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns Friday night as the Wildkits took control in the second half and scored their first road victory of the season by a 38-13 margin at Glenbrook North.
“We played complementary football tonight and we won the turnover battle. That’s why we won,” said Burzawa. “When two teams are evenly matched, it always comes down to the turnover battle. We were working with a short field (on offense) because of those turnovers and that’s always a great thing. We played good, effective Evanston football tonight.
“Damarion Timberlake has done a very good job for us up to this point. He has such a huge heart and I love his vision and his athleticism. The thing I’m most impressed with now is that he’s finally finishing off his runs. I really like his toughness, and I think he’s an electric back for us.”
Evanston capitalized on four Glenbrook North turnovers – two fumbles and two interceptions – to improve to 3-4 on the season, 2-1 in Central Suburban League South division play.
The Wildkits, after leading just 14-7 at the halftime intermission, dominated the second half and can still nail down a berth in the Illinois High School Association state playoffs if they can defeat both Maine South and Glenbrook South in the final weeks of the regular season.
That task won’t seem as formidable as it appears if Timberlake, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior, takes care of the football and continues to prosper running behind a veteran offensive line that was able to grind out 22 first downs Friday.
Burzawa kept the faith after Timberlake’s first quarter fumble – one of three Wildkit turnovers – and the Kits kept handing him the ball. He accounted for 140 yards on 26 attempts and scored on runs of 11 and 3 yards while displaying a second and third effort on most of those carries.
‘It was huge to keep them from getting the momentum’
Quarterback Dylan Groff added TD runs covering 1 and 19 yards, and also threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Mac Mettee for the winners.
A brilliant stand by Evanston’s defensive backs at the end of the first half prevented GBN (2-5 overall, 0-3 CSL South) from gaining momentum in front of its home crowd on Senior Night. Secondary standouts Keron Pryor, Jace Meeks, Jacques Philippe and Hank Liss all broke up pass attempts into the end zone after the Spartans had moved inside the ETHS 30 with 18 seconds to play.
Juniors Pryor and Caleb Watson contributed second half interceptions while limiting Glenbrook North quarterback Jack Philbin to 6-of-25 passing for only 55 yards overall.
“We had some big time breakups by our secondary, and it was really huge to keep them from getting the momentum (by tying the game) at halftime,” said Burzawa. “Those guys all did a great job.”
Evanston didn’t take long to build on that one touchdown advantage. John Toledo knocked the ball loose from Philbin on the first play of the second half and Darrion Coleman pounced on it at the Spartans’ 22. Four plays later, a determined Timberlake dragged one Glenbrook North defender the last 5 yards to climax his 11-yard touchdown run.
Evan Siegel booted a 36-yard field goal on Evanston’s next possession, and then Timberlake finished off a 55-yard, 10-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run on the second play of the fourth quarter to make it 31-7.
Mac Mettee took an onside kick attempt 40 yards in the other direction to set up the final Wildkit tally, a 19-yard run by Groff with 8:28 left in the game.