After going 5-4 overall and making the Class 8A playoffs last season, the Evanston Township High School football team hopes to have even more success with that 2013 campaign.
Head Coach Mike Burzawa believes his team can make that happen, but he knows it will not be easy. "We set a goal as a program back in 2010 to have a winning decade of Wildkit football. We have made the playoffs three years in a row. [This year] our goal is to make the playoffs [again] and continue to advance and bring back the glory days to Evanston," said Burzawa. "That is really what we are working towards. It is a long, hard process, but our kids have bought in, and I could not be more pleased with their efforts so far. The boys have done everything we have asked, and we are excited about the upcoming season."
In order to achieve success on the field this season, Burzawa says, the Kits need leadership. He said, "We are a young, inexperienced football team. Those are the facts. We have two returning starters on offense and four on defense. But what I am excited about is [that] the senior class is working extremely hard to climb that ladder and take that next step [to becoming a championship-caliber team by working hard] in the off-season [and] in the summertime. They have really shown a commitment."
The coach added, "Really, what we need to take that next step is leadership. We held leadership presentations during our training camp, and it was really powerful hearing the kids say things [regarding success] so that the coaches did not have to say them. But the bottom line is, that is talk, and we have to put it to action. But I believe the pieces are there. We just have to put them together."
Those pieces include starting quarterback Chris Little, inside linebacker Zack Smith, center Donovan Brown, and wide receiver Sam Bordo, players Burzawa will be counting on to help carry the load this season.
[We] will be counting on ... our inside linebacker and three-year starter, Zack Smith. He is the captain of our defense," said Burzawa. "Offensively it will be our returning quarterback, Chris Little. This is the first time that I have been at Evanston that we have had a three-year starter, and we are excited about that. Chris has really worked on his decision-making.
"Another young man who has emerged as one of our leaders is Donovan Brown. He is a center and defensive lineman. He makes all the calls for us up-front, and he is really the heart and soul of our offense." He added, "Sam Bordo is one of our returning wide receivers. So those will be our four captains going in. But as always, I tell our kids that all of our seniors are our leaders, and that is the expectation. We are looking forward to a challenging season, and it should be exciting.
When asked which games they are looking forward to, Burzawa said, "[We are looking forward to] our non-conference schedule. We play New Trier at home on Senior Day [Oct. 25] and the second annual Hall of Fame game [on Aug. 30 against Proviso West]. We also have Glenbrook South on Homecoming [Oct. 4]. But we look forward to every home game. Last year we were 4-1 at home." The coach added, "The team set a goal of being undefeated at home. We just missed that goal last season [losing to Maine South]."
The Kits open the season against Proviso West on Friday night in the aforementioned Hall of Fame game at Lazier Field in Evanston. That game is followed by a visit to last season’s Class 6A State champions Crete-Monee on Sept. 6.
Regarding Proviso West, Burzawa said, "They are very similar to us in going to the playoffs three years in a row. They are big and strong and very athletic. It is going to be a challenge for us, and we will see how our kids respond. [But] we are excited, and we are looking forward to Friday night."
If all goes to plan, the Kits will have another strong season and be in position to make a fourth straight post-season appearance come season’s end in late October.