Glenbrook South shows promise in opening-day football loss to York
Fielding but a handful of returning starters, Glenbrook South showed promise in a loss to York to begin the 2023 football season.
The Titans led after one quarter and clung tight to the 2022 Class 8A semifinalists through three quarters. York scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to win 35-17 in front of a huge student turnout at John Davis Stadium in Glenview on Aug. 25.
"We had a lot of guys out there that had never started a varsity game before, a lot of guys who hadn't even really repped in a game last year, so our off-season was getting those guys up to speed, and I think a lot of them did a great job," said Glenbrook South coach Dave Schoenwetter.
"I thought the story of the game really was the things that we did well (offensively) we couldn't replicate, so the consistency wasn't there," he said.
"And on the defensive side, same thing. We would execute well for two, three plays, we'd get them in a bind and then we'd give up the big one that got them off the hook."
That goes hand-in-hand with inexperience. The Titans didn't return a single passing yard from the 2022 season, and their top returning rusher was Tyrone Cotton, a starting cornerback in 2022 as a sophomore.
York quarterback Sean Winton, also a first-year starter, completed 13 of 17 passes for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chris Danko caught 2 touchdown passes and Luke Mailander added another to go with 7 catches for 221 yards.
"We have a huge target on our backs from last year and we have to continue to prove this is why we have the target. We're going to keep going far with this. We're not scared of that target. We want that," said Mailander, who iced the contest on a 68-yard touchdown catch with 7:53 to play.
The Dukes overcame Dennis Poulopoulos' first-quarter interception and two lost fumbles in the third quarter, one leading to a 4-yard touchdown run by Nate Canning, his second touchdown of the game.
"It's very hard to win a football game with three turnovers, so we've got to do a better job of managing that," said York coach Mike Fitzgerald.
"But that's why we wanted to play a talented team like Glenbrook South and open up like that. We wanted the guys to face some adversity and see what happens and see how they respond. Just really proud of them, they stuck together," he said.
Glenbrook South challenged the Dukes, leading 3-0 after one quarter on returning kicker Jacob Priegnitz's 22-yard field goal. The Titans also responded to Winton's 27-yard touchdown pass to Danko with Canning's 58-yard breakaway run for a 10-7 lead at 7:40 of the second quarter.
"To be honest with you, I thought we played really well," said Canning, who ran for 114 yards on 15 carries.
"In that first half it was a real close game, and then even throughout the game it was back and forth. But to me it's only going up from here. That's a very good football team, they're well-coached, and I would argue it's the hardest team on our schedule. There's obviously great teams that are coming up, but I'm really excited for the future of this team," Canning said.
York led 14-10 at halftime on a Danko 15-yard touchdown catch plus Damian Glodz's kick. Despite losing a fumble on its first possession of the third quarter, York led 21-10 when running back Jake Melion smashed in a 9-yard run. Melion ran for 165 yards.
Canning cut the deficit to 21-17 on his 4-yard run behind Titans linemen Patrick Benedict and Ryan Schroeder late in the third quarter.
York answered quickly. Melion's 66-yard run set up Jimmy Connors' 4-yard touchdown blast. On the Dukes' next possession, despite Benedict's tackle for loss, on third-and-14 Winton hit Mailander on a 68-yard fly for the 35-17 final score.
In his first start, Glenbrook South quarterback Alan Motoa completed 10 of 20 passes for 120 yards. He had chemistry with receiver Josh Sherman, who caught 6 passes for 78 yards.
Going 19-4 over the last two seasons with a state quarterfinal berth in 2021, Glenbrook South needs only a bit of seasoning.
"I think we leave this game feeling like, OK, we could have done better and we were right there with a top-10 team," said Titans coach Dave Schoenwetter. "Obviously they pulled away at the end, but we clean some things up and I think we're a good football team."
Glenbrook South visits Lake Zurich (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1.