Evanston struggling as it enters playoffs

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EVANSTON — The last two weekends have been forgettable for Evanston’s football team.

The Wildkits went 0-2 and were shut out both games, including Friday’s 17-0 loss at home to rival New Trier.

But Evanston coach Mike Burzawa said he isn’t dwelling on the defeats. He’s looking forward to another opportunity to play.

“It was disappointing,” said Burzawa, who has the team in the Class 8A playoffs for the fourth season in a row. “Things didn’t go our way, and we didn’t make the plays. But (we) have got to bounce back and persevere and be ready for that next season.

“We had some self-reflection, but we already shifted our focus.”

Evanston plays at Barrington in the first round of the playoffs Saturday. Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said he’s treating Evanston (5-4 overall, 2-3 CSL South) like any other team in the state.

“Regardless of what their record is, everybody’s 0-0,” said Sanchez, whose Broncos finished 8-1 and shared the MSL West title at 4-1. “So it’s back to continuing what we do. And that’s swarming the ball and getting after it.”

Evanston simply made too many mistakes Friday, and its offense didn’t move the ball effectively against the Trevians. The Wildkits turned over the ball twice on punt returns, with one of the turnovers leading to three points. When New Trier fumbled away the ball, the Wildkits couldn’t convert the turnover into points.

Offensively, Evanston threw for 108 yards and ran for 49 more. Senior quarterback Chris Little was sacked five times in the second half alone.

“It’s all about execution of the fundamentals of your position,” Burzawa said. “If you’re (an) offensive lineman, it’s pass blocking and run blocking. If you’re a receiver, it’s blocking on the perimeter, catching passes and running the with the ball.

“Every position needs work, but we believe we have the players to get it done.”

Seniors Erik Brannon and Benjamin Marienthal are two players who continue to impress Burzawa and the coaching staff with each game. Brannon is a converted linebacker playing defensive back, and Marienthal is an offensive lineman after playing tight end as a junior.

“We are proud of these young men and what they are doing for us,” said Burzawa, who still is looking for his first playoff win with the Wildkits. “We just have to get everybody to put it together.”

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