When Evanston football coach Mike Burzawa tunes in to his favorite cable channel Saturday night to watch the Illinois High School Association state pairings telecast, he probably won’t enjoy the viewing that much.
Why? That’s the difference between a 6-3 regular season and a 5-4 regular season.
Shut out for the second week in a row, the Wildkits lost to New Trier 17-0 Friday night in the regular season finale at Lazier Field. The defeat will drop Evanston (5-4 overall) toward the bottom of its Class 8A playoff bracket when the matchups are determined and released on Saturday.
ETHS had already clinched a playoff berth entering Friday’s rivalry game, and it was the visiting Trevians who played with more urgency, needing a victory to become playoff eligible.
Now, it’s likely that New Trier (also 5-4) will earn a higher postseason seed after limiting the Kits to three first downs in the second half and sacking quarterback Chris Little five times in the last two periods.
Evanston didn’t come close to denting the end zone, rushing for 49 yards and passing for 113 yards. A more physical New Trier squad won the battle in the trenches, grinding out 210 yards on the ground while forcing Little to scramble for his life on more than one occasion.
Evanston still leads the all-time series in head-to-head matchups with New Trier, by a 54-46 margin with 5 ties. Of more concern for Burzawa after Friday night, however, was the immediate future.
“I have no doubt this leaves a bad taste in your mouths,” said the ETHS coach in the postgame huddle. “I’m disappointed, and you’re disappointed. But this one game is not the entire season. The new season starts tomorrow night.
“This is certainly not the way we wanted to end the season here. New Trier really handed it to us tonight. They dictated their physicality on us, and there’s not much more I can say about that. We’ve got to take care of the little things, execute better and make more plays.”
New Trier marched 68 yards in 14 plays on its first possession of the game, with quarterback Matt McCaffrey scoring on a 1-yard plunge. A fumbled punt in the second quarter led to a school record 48-yard field goal by New Trier’s Charlie Durbin with 7 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first half.
The visitors were poised to score again on their next possession, but Evanston defensive back Kyle Johnson recovered a fumble by New Trier workhorse Kevin Mulhern (26 carries for 147 yards) at the ETHS 19 to foil that threat.
Little (11-of-25 passing for 113 yards, 18 carries for 44 yards) tried to rally the offense and did string together three straight first downs to move into New Trier territory. He scrambled 28 yards down to the New Trier 6 as time ran out in the half.
Mulhern dashed 65 yards for a TD on the second play of the second half and that ended the scoring for both teams. Evanston did penetrate as far as the New Trier 22, before a sack, a delay of game penalty and a quarterback draw netted zero yards and foiled that threat.