DOWNERS GROVE – A historic 2022 season for York ended only a victory away from the state title game.
How about an encore?
Showing no signs of letting up, the Dukes once again are rolling heading into West Suburban Silver play after a 47-7 road win over Downers Grove South on Sept. 8.
Luke Mailander hauled in two touchdown receptions in the first half as York (3-0) captured its 14th consecutive regular-season win. The senior receiver and Illinois State recruit finished with five catches for 127 yards.
“I think I said this about a week ago. We have a target on our back,” said Mailander, whose TD catches covered 33 and 75 yards. “Obviously last year was spectacular, but this is a new team. We have a lot of new starters. So we are going to have to fight for this.
”Credit to our O-line. Our O-like is looking great. Jake [Melion] is running hard and Sean [Winton] has stepped up beautifully [at quarterback]. Coming into the year we knew we were going to have to come up with some creative ways to move the ball and we have done that.”
Melion, who came into the game with 328 rushing yards, added another 165 to that total on 23 carries to go along with a pair of scores.
”It’s definitely exciting. Being 3-0 is great,” Melion said. “But I don’t think we’ve played as well as we can. It was a great team win and everyone is definitely playing to their capabilities. But there is a whole another level that we haven’t reached yet and it’s going to be really exciting when we reach that.
”I think the keys are we have such a dynamic offense. We can pass all over you, and if you try to stop that, we can run the ball. Our O-line is doing great. And then our defense I feel is one of the best in the state. Our front seven is so good.”
Winton finished 12-of-22 through the air for 201 yards while also running for 25 yards. Backup quarterback Bruno Massel added a pair of TD scampers in the fourth quarter, from 16 and 25 yards out. Damian Glodz kicked a 46-yard field goal.
”A lot of the credit goes to the coaching staff and the entire program,” York coach Mike Fitzgerald said. “Our lower level coaches are really good and they do a great job of teaching the guys and then you have our varsity coaching staff that gets them prepared [for each game]. That builds depth and has helped us reload.
”Anytime you can start the season 3-0, we are happy about that. Our kids’ effort has been really good.”
The Mustangs (0-3), whose touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Ryker Dudley, find themselves in a similar position to a year ago, when they ran the table in the West Suburban Gold conference to reach the postseason.
Starting this week against Willowbrook, every game will have playoff implications for Downers South.
Will Potter completed 12-of-21 passes for 56 yards for the Mustangs against York. Ethan Onusaitis and Dylan Vogt had fumble recoveries.
”We are playing good defense,” Downers South coach Mark Molinari said. “York has a really good offense and our defense hung in there. We had some kids step up. Offensively, we are still struggling a bit. [This] week is a conference championship game for us. Every one will be from here on out.”