Evanston changes momentum, tops the Titans
Evanston's athletes turned a close football game with Glenbrook South into a decisive victory.
Countering an opening scoring drive by the host Titans on their senior night, Evanston star juniors Sebastian Cheeks and Kamau Ransom scored the next four touchdowns in the Wildkits' 37-14 Central Suburban League South victory last Friday at John Davis Stadium in Glenview.
"It was a situation where I thought that early on we did some things well and then momentum kind of went to the other side of the field," said Titans coach Dave Schoenwetter, who was without nose guard Devonjae Hudson, receiver Tommy Gebien and safety Connor Weisensel.
"Every time we kind of seemed like we were getting the momentum back a little bit we gave up some big plays, and that kind of crushed that," Schoenwetter said.
A squad better than its record, Glenbrook South (1-4 overall and in the CSL South) stuffed Evanston's first possession on Rory Tovcimak's pass bat-down and Matt Schultz's fumble recovery.
The Titans moved 66 yards to score, netting nearly half that yardage when running back Matt Burda caught quarterback Michael Bauer's misdirection swing pass and 31 yards later lowered the boom on Evanston's tall, talented Mark Canon Jr.
Michael Carney capped the drive on a 1-yard touchdown blast behind Burda's lead block and a solid line push. Franco Fernandez-Enjo's kick gave the Titans a 7-0 lead at 6:16 of the first quarter.
"I know that the entire game if we got to the goal-line or a short-yardage situation, that they'd be coming off low, coming off hard," said Glenbrook South senior offensive guard Daniel Choi, who joined Chuck Tomsheck, Danny Leibrandt, David Palkovic and Chris Fish up front.
"I told my entire line we've got to do the same. We've got to come off lower than them, we've got to come off harder than them and that just worked for us. I was proud of them," Choi said.
Evanston (3-2, 3-2) tied the score at 8:11 of the second quarter on Cheeks' 1-yard run and Jason Nelson's kick, but after the Titans' Joe Thein broke up a Wildkits pass on a fake punt attempt and Evanston committed a pass interference penalty Glenbrook South had a fresh set of downs at Evanston's 21-yard line.
The Titans came up empty, and two plays later Ransom made a basket catch in stride on Sean Cruz's 52-yard touchdown pass to send the Wildkits into halftime leading 14-7.
"That got a lot of life and energy to us, and then Cheeks had the interception to start the third quarter. We started to get into rhythm," said Evanston coach Mike "Buzz" Burzawa.
Cheeks broke on a ball on the fourth play from scrimmage and returned it 47 yards for a 21-7 Wildkits lead.
"One of the things that we talked about at halftime was the back was slipping out into the flat. When I went back to inside 'backer one of the things I picked up on was I saw him slip early and I went for it," said Cheeks, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior.
On Evanston's next possession Ransom, a 6-2 receiver, split two defenders on a fly down the left hash mark for a 42-yard touchdown catch. Nelson delivered Evanston's 28th straight point for a 28-7 lead at 6:14 of the third quarter.
Burda, who finished with 98 hard rushing yards on 24 carries, followed Choi and Tomsheck for a 2-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, but Glenbrook South got no closer.
"I think our boys fought hard tonight," Bauer said.
"I think we gave it all we've got, it was our senior night, so all the seniors I know for sure gave it everything," he said. "We left it all on the field, it's the last time we're going to play at John Davis Stadium, at least the seniors, again. As you can see a bunch of them are down out on the (midfield) 'Bolt' right now. It's a part of high school, it's a part of growing up. It's just a tough pill to swallow right now."
Glenbrook South will play next week in a CSL crossover at Maine West to conclude the shortened season. At the outset, Schoenwetter felt wins or losses were secondary to players getting the opportunity they "deserved." He felt no differently on Friday.
"In many ways the record's not what's really important this year, what's important is that our seniors were able to keep this group together and get to this point in the season," he said. "I'm happy they got to play a year, obviously one more game to go. We all would like to win, but most importantly the kids got to have this experience."