York notches another milestone with playoff victory against Oswego East
Another week, another goal accomplished and more history made for York.
But what's most important for the Dukes is getting to play another week of football together.
Becoming only the third team in program history to reach double digits in wins, York advanced to the Class 8A second round with a 31-10 win over Oswego East in Elmhurst.
In avenging a playoff opening loss last season, the second-seeded Dukes (10-0) also captured their first postseason victory since 2010.
"It's definitely special," said running back Jake Melion, who rushed for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns. "Every week matters. Winning this game is huge but we are definitely focused on bigger and better things.
"We don't play for ourselves, we play for each other. We all love each other and making that connection is what has made us a stronger team."
Melion scored on runs of 2, 13 and 7 yards behind the offensive line of Colin Cushing, Gavin Honken, Lazar Todorcev, Ellis McAdoo and Dominic Begora.
"What was working was definitely our blocking," Melion said. "Our O-line was blocking great and so were our wide receivers. That's how I was able to find holes and running lanes."
The visiting Wolves (5-5), making their seventh consecutive playoff appearance, actually jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Owen Valek's 31-yard field goal after a punt was blocked by Nicholas Mantucca.
But the Dukes held Oswego East to just three first downs until its final drive, which ended with quarterback Tre Jones finding Griffin Anderson for an 11-yard score with just over two minutes remaining.
"York is a great football team," Oswego East coach Tyson LeBlanc said. "Our kids have put in the effort and never quit all year. We had some injuries early in the season, which put us in a situation to draw a team like York in the first round.
"This group of seniors has left the program in a better place. They are a great group of kids. They've put in the work and done things that have made our program better."
Jones passed for 121 yards and ran for 47 more. Michael Polubinski caught three passes for 60 yards and Jalen Lewis had 3 receptions for 40 yards. Polubinski and Tyler Stamatis each had interceptions and Jerome Jackson recovered a fumble.
York's Luke Mailander hauled in seven passes for 123 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown from Matt Vezza, which gave the home team the lead for good with 5:47 left in the first quarter. Vezza finished with 165 passing yards and 54 on the ground.
Matt Sutter picked off a pass for the Dukes, who allowed just 72 points during the regular season. John Renier and Evan Grazzini added sacks and Jacob Young had a fumble recovery.
"We've had guys step up (on defense)," Sutter said. "Our D-line has been great, our linebackers have been great and our secondary has been great at defending the pass. Everybody works together. We play as one unit, not as 11 players.
"Everything matters now; special teams, defense, offense. When all three are clicking, it's hard to lose a football game."
The Dukes, who also got a 20-yard field goal from Damian Glodz, will travel to take on Marist. York coach Mike Fitzgerald was the offensive coordinator for the RedHawks from 2008-13.
"Obviously this is a huge accomplishment (for the program)," Fitzgerald said. "But more than anything, it's another guaranteed week with this group. I love these kids, it's a special group. Working hard, playing for each other -- just getting the opportunity to stay together is more important then any record we break.
"Marist is a good program and there are really good people over there. I'm excited for our guys to get the opportunity to play them."