York earns signature win over Glenbard West on last-second field goal
A high school football program's progress isn't necessarily gauged by how many blowouts it piles up.
Rather, it's how a team does in close games that's the true test.
If that's the test, York passed it on Saturday afternoon, defeating host Glenbard West 12-10.
It was the first victory for the Dukes over the Hilltoppers since 2007, and York's first 6-0 start since 2010.
The Dukes (6-0, 4-0 West Suburban Silver) did it on the heels of a top-rate performance by junior quarterback Matt Vezza, who completed 14 of 23 passes for 119 yards, and added 110 yards on the ground on 29 carries.
That was the long-term strategy. The short-term counterpart was an 18-yard field goal by senior kicker Max Hansmann with 55.1 seconds left in the game, which set the final score.
Oh, by the way, that kick came three plays after a 30-plus-minute lightning delay.
"We had a great game plan coming in," Vezza said. "This game has been circled on our calendar since the start of the year. We have big goals. We want to go 9-0. We're not there yet, but this was a big one."
Glenbard West put together a 12-play, 65-yard drive behind junior running back Joey Pope that culminated in a 2-yard scoring scamper by junior back Jack Oberhofer with 4:50 to go. Senior kicker Enzo Diomede's extra point gave the Hilltoppers a 10-9 lead.
But York responded, taking the ball from its own 35 and marching to the Glenbard West 6 before the lightning showed up.
After the delay, Hansmann kicked his chip-shot field goal, held by senior Colin Doherty.
What was it like sitting through the lightning delay, with the possibility -- or even likelihood -- of a big kick opportunity after getting back on the field?
"I just think God was trying to ice me," Hansmann said with a laugh. "I had faith the whole way."
The Hilltoppers got the ball back with 49.8 seconds and the game ended on an interception by York junior linebacker David Loch as time expired.
"This is huge," said York coach Mike Fitzgerald, who's in his fourth season. "When I got hired, we had this mantra called Pound the Stone, and the idea behind it is, if you want to break a big rock, you have to swing away at the thing, you have to pound on it.
"Sometimes you're not going to see any progress. But eventually that sucker is going to break and it had nothing to do with the last swing, but all the swings that came before it."
Pope had a solid rushing day for Glenbard West (5-1, 3-1), going for 113 yards on 26 carries. But no other Hilltopper rusher had more than 32. The Hilltoppers' leading receiver was sophomore Julius Ellens, with 42 yards on three catches. But again, no other receiver had more than 13 yards.
Glenbard West also didn't help itself with a pair of fumbles lost.
"The skill kids, who are young, played like they were young today," Hilltoppers coach Chad Hetlet said. "York's quarterback did exactly what Glenbard West has done for years and years. He took what the defense gave, he got the hard yards. I thought he was amazing.
"There are a lot of things we have to grow up and get better at."