In a season that’s already had its fair share of heartbreak for New Trier, the Trevians took another blow straight to the sternum in Week 6 courtesy of their longtime rivals.
The Evanston Wildkits erased New Trier’s late, two-point lead by delivering a stunning 47-yard touchdown on third and long with 45 seconds to play, leading them to a 26-22 victory on Friday, Sept. 29, in Evanston.
New Trier was in prime position to put the finishing touches on the team’s first conference win after forcing the Wildkits into a third-and-21 situation. ’Kits quarterback Colin Livatino then tossed what seemed like an innocent screen pass to Demarion Timberlake, who was quickly met by a wall of New Trier defenders along the sideline. But the multiple would-be Trevs’ tacklers could not bring down a darting and spinning Timberlake before he broke free for the back-breaking score.
“We were there to make the play, (but) we had a lot of guys miss plays,” New Trier head coach Brian Doll said. “I’m disappointed in the execution. I’m disappointed in a lot of things. I don’t really have a lot of words right now. I’m kind of in shock. We have not become the football team I was hoping that we’d become and I’ll take responsibility for that.”
The defeat was New Trier’s fourth straight and fifth overall on the season, all but eliminating the Trevians from playoff contention just two weeks into their conference season.
It was a night that served as a microcosm of what’s become an unexpectedly disappointing season for New Trier. Many of the same issues that have plagued the Trevians all year — including opposing offenses gaining chunks of yards at inopportune times, turnovers and missed tackles — were at the forefront of their demise once again on Friday.
“We’re just not a good football team right now and it’s hard to watch,” Doll said. “I did not think we would be at this place with a lot of kids who I expected to have a great senior year and I feel bad for them.”
The Trevs’ tackling on the evening was particularly disheartening for the team’s coaching staff, Doll said, given that it was a focus in practice all week.
“One of our big goals this week was tackling and we focused completely on it and practice was probably the most physical week of practice we’ve had tackling-wise, so then to come out here and not execute our tackling was hard to watch,” he said.
After a scoreless first quarter, Evanston finished off a formidable 19-play, 92-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to open the game’s scoring. The series was kept alive after the Trevs committed a costly roughing the kicker penalty on a Wildkits’ punt attempt.
New Trier wasted little time in answering, embarking on a 52-yard scoring drive of its own. Junior quarterback Patrick Heneghan, who returned under center for the Trevs after a two-game injury absence, connected with senior Miles Cremascoli for a 40-yard touchdown.
The Kits capitalized on a New Trier turnover later in the quarter, returning an interception to the Trevs’ 8-yard line. Evanston scored on the next play when Livatino fired a touchdown pass to Keron Pryor.
The Trevs responded once again with a game-tying drive that was capped on a Cremascoli 3-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation.
Evanston got the ball back with just over one minute left in the half and made the most of its limited time. The ’Kits delivered its first of two crushing scores, taking the lead after Livatano found a wide open receiver for a 51-yard touchdown with 5 seconds to go in the half.
New Trier opened the third quarter with a strong drive, going 60 yards in six plays to tie the game at 20. Heneghan finished the drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak. The Trevs got the ball into Evanston’s redzone three plays earlier when Heneghan and Cremascoli connected on a 47-yard completion.
It was another superb night for Cremascoli, who finished with six receptions for 120 yards. He caught a touchdown pass, rushed in a score and intercepted a pass.
The Trevians took a 22-20 lead when a bad Evanston snap caused a safety with just over five minutes to play.
But New Trier fumbled on the first play of the ensuing drive, giving Evanston the ball back at its own 46. The Kits then rallied to produce the game-winning score.
“It’s very (backbreaking),” Doll said of the defeat. “You’re 1-5 now and there’s not much else I can say. That record speaks for itself. We have to be better and there are a lot of things I can point at but I’ll just take the responsibility for it.”
New Trier will return home next Friday night for its homecoming game against Glenbrook North. There will be a much different feeling on the Trevs’ sidelines in uncharted waters for a program that has familiarized itself with playoff football.
The Trevians will post back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in 30 years (1992-’93). New Trier qualified for the postseasons for 16 straight seasons until 2019.
“This is new territory for me,” Doll said. “I’ve never gone into Week 7 knowing that we will not be in the playoffs, so we’ll have to regroup as a staff and talk about what the approach is. I don’t know what it will be at this point in time.”
Regardless of the Trevs’ approach, the “simplistic part of football has to come back to life next week,” for New Trier to snap its losing streak, Doll said.
Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.