By Dennis Mahoney
If the orange uniforms didn’t dazzle Maine West in a Central Suburban League crossover football game at Lazier Field, Evanston’s quick strike offense did.
Decked out in all-orange uniforms to match the helmets previously adopted by head coach Mike Burzawa when he took over the program, the Wildkits struck for three touchdowns covering 46 yards or more and dismantled Maine West by a 42-21 margin.
Evanston completed the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 3-1 record as quarterback Chris Little threw three touchdown passes and running back Maalik Todd added a 57-yard TD dash and a 46-yard punt return for a score.
“We wanted to come out with these (new) uniforms and start a winning tradition with them,” Burzawa said. “We’ve talked about this with the 2011 and 2012 teams here, and we finally were able to do enough fund-raising to make it happen.
“This is something the kids wanted, and hopefully having an Orange Out for one or two games each year will become a tradition. We’re trying to bring more excitement to the program, and the kids really like them.”
Almost everyone. Todd, who scored on Evanston’s second offensive play from scrimmage, suggested that he couldn’t wait to get back to the more traditional garb when the Wildkits open Central Suburban League South division play at Niles West next Saturday.
“These are pretty cool, I guess, but some of the other guys were expecting Nike (brand) uniforms,” said Todd. “It’s an old school look and it was a good way for us to start with a new color. But I like the old uniforms because they’re tighter on me, and guys can’t pull me down by my jersey.
“That first touchdown (on a sweep around right end) was a big one, because Coach is always talking about punching the other team in the mouth early, to let them know we’re there. Going into the conference season now we’re almost where we want to be, but we have to correct some little things and we want to eliminate all the mistakes.”
Evanston was whistled for 11 penalties on the night. But Little (17-of-23 for 175 yards passing) converted so many first and long or second and long scenarios through the air that Maine West (1-3) never really threatened.
Little threw TD passes covering 59 and 22 yards to Rei Gaines, and also connected with Sam Bordo for a 17-yard score, all in the second quarter as the hosts built a 28-7 halftime advantage.
Todd raced 46 yards down the left sideline with a punt with 4:43 left in the third quarter, and Julian Bohannon Smith added a 24-yard burst to paydirt in the fourth quarter.
Between them Maine West quarterbacks Matt Swanson and Matt Acevedo hit 22-of-43 passes for 189 yards, with Acevedo coming off the bench to throw for all three scores for the Warriors. But Evanston’s defense forced four turnovers --- interceptions by Kyle Johnson and Cedric Logan, plus fumble recoveries by Brandon Hilliard and Eric Brannon --- and both of Maine West’s second half scores came against Kit reserves.
“We had a lot of big plays tonight, and almost our entire roster was able to get on the field,” Burzawa pointed out. “We do need to clean up some of those penalties. We need to be more disciplined, because some of those penalties took our momentum away in the first quarter.”