York sizes up Lyons Twp.
York's Chris Eckard and Brandon Walker don't look like your prototypical defensive linemen.
They are both generously listed at 5-foot-11. Eckard weighs 175, 5 pounds more than Walker.
Yet they manage to punch above their weight. Eckard had 2 sacks and Walker recovered a fumble that led to an early touchdown to lead the host Dukes to a 17-3 West Suburban Conference Silver Division victory over Lyons on Friday in Elmhurst.
That gave York its first 3-1 start since 2014.
"Size can only do so much," Walker said. "You play with your head and your heart, give it your all, work on your technique at practice and you can do great things."
The Dukes (3-1, 2-0) did plenty of great things against the Lions, starting with Walker's fumble recovery on the third play of the game. That gave York the ball at the Lyons 31.
Running back Nick Conroy scored nine plays later on a 1-yard run, the first of his 2 such touchdowns. He finished with 98 yards rushing on 24 carries.
"I do not remember who stripped it but one of my other D-lineman did it," Walker said of the turnover. "I saw an opportunity.
"I saw the ball go and I grabbed it, got up, saw a man and I know I'm not the best with ball security so I just hit the ground, wanted to keep possession of it. Any way you can get the ball back, you've just got to go for it."
It was the first of three takeaways by the Dukes, who also got interceptions from defensive backs Oscar Duda and Jeff Grace in the third quarter.
York turned Duda's pick into a 44-yard drive that began with Conroy's 26-yard scamper. It ended with Conroy plunging in from the 1 to finish the scoring with 7:13 left in the third quarter.
"It's all about momentum changers and we're really good at that," Eckard said. "We're really good at making big plays."
Indeed, Eckard was frequently in the Lions' backfield. His pressure forced LT quarterback Joey Antonietti to throw a fourth-down incompletion from the York 30 early in the second quarter when the score was still 7-0.
"We're just going after every play," Eckard said. "We've been working in the mornings every single day before school since November.
"When we put in that work, we're not going to let someone win on our field."
The Lions (1-3, 0-2) never got anything going offensively. They were held to 95 yards rushing and their receivers dropped several passes.
LT's only points came on Chris Clarke's 38-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, pulling the Lions within 10-3. The officials didn't notice York's coaches calling for a timeout or that play might not have happened.
"They played hard," LT coach Dan Hartman said of the Dukes. "I think what really makes their defense go is those interior linemen that they have.
"They pinched everything inside, forced the ball to bounce outside and forced you to throw the ball. They came out and made tackles."