Evanston’s proud defense held mighty Maine South to just one score over the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s soggy finale to the 2022 home football season.
But then the Hawks turned to a sophomore at quarterback – who wasn’t even listed on the varsity roster – and the Wildkits couldn’t deal with him as Maine South clinched the Central Suburban League South division championship with a 28-7 victory at Lazier Field.
Sophomore Constantine Coyne ran for a pair of scores, completed four of seven pass attempts for 27 yards and even caught a pass after replacing starter Jack Defillippis late in the third quarter.
You couldn’t blame Evanston Township High School head coach Mike Burzawa if he were just a little jealous of a program that has so many options. While the Hawks thrived when they turned to Plan B on offense, the Wildkits fell to 3-5 on the season and won’t qualify for the Illinois High School Association state playoffs after generating just 10 first downs, 47 yards rushing and 150 yards passing.
Only a late touchdown pass from Dylan Groff to reserve wide receiver Myles Kye kept the hosts from being shut out on Senior Night. It was the last home appearance for the senior class, who will try to go out on a winning note next Friday on the road at Glenbrook South.
“Our defense played their tails off tonight, but we lacked execution on offense,” said Burzawa. “On every drive it seemed like we had something go wrong. We had a few opportunities in the first half, and then in the second half we got to their 30 [yard line] right away and didn’t convert then.
“We never got our ground game going and there were several things we thought we could take advantage of in the air. We had to take care of business these last two games [to earn a postseason berth] and we just didn’t get the job done.
“You’ve got to give Maine South credit, that’s a championship program. They switched quarterbacks and they made plays with him in there. They made three miraculous catches on us and they did a great job.”
A persistent rain in the first half didn’t keep the Hawks from marching 59 yards in 12 plays on their first possession, with Defillippis scoring on a 2-yard run. But an interception by ETHS junior Jacques Philippe halted one drive, and a fourth-down sack by Omari Waldron on Defillippis turned the ball over on downs at his own 10 after the Hawks had penetrated all the way to the Evanston 1-yard line.
Defillippis was credited with a 44-yard completion to Sean Mullan, who made a one-handed grab of a ball that was underthrown and probably should have been picked off. Three plays later the Hawks inserted Coyne in the backfield. He promptly dashed 11 yards for the TD that boosted the score to 14-0 with 2 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
Coyne added a 35-yard scoring run on the second play of the fourth quarter and Michael Dellumo (19 carries for 54 yards) also hit paydirt on a 2-yard run to finish off the scoring for the visitors, who haven’t lost to Evanston since 1999.
ETHS netted just 47 yards rushing on 23 attempts, and quarterback Groff completed 12 of 29 passing attempts for 150 yards and an interception.
“We only have five days of football left now, and we want to make every one of them count,” Burzawa said. “The big picture is that we’ve battled and been in every game we’ve played, just like tonight. These seniors have given us everything. There’s a tremendous amount of character here, and I’m really proud of these kids.”