ELMHURST – This is not last year’s York team in so many ways.
It goes beyond the 2-0 start and the positive attitude. The biggest difference in the Dukes this season is the offensive system applied under first-year offensive coordinator Jim Nudera.
The Dukes ran the ball 50 times for 323 yards in their 52-22 win over Proviso East in Week 2. York’s offense is almost always in a power formation with at least two running backs in the backfield, utilizing Dominic Ravenna at fullback and often a tight end on the line.
On top of the power style running game, the Dukes try to keep the opposition off balance with deceptive handoffs to the multiple backs in the backfield. Part of the reason York can be successful with the offense is that they spread the plentiful running plays between five or six running backs.
“That’s what we want to be, a ball control team,” coach Steve Nye said. “Ravenna is going to be out there all the time for the most part and then we’re going to rotate those other guys.”
The other guys – mainly Kyle Stearns, Kyle Coughlin, Morgan Alexander and Joseph Biggins against the Pirates with Ted Harrold out injured – share the load because they all play on the defensive side as well. Stearns had two interceptions on top of his three touchdown runs and Coughlin and Harrold, when healthy, start as cornerbacks while Biggins is a linebacker.
Most Class 8A teams don’t have many players play both ways so the Dukes don’t want a key defensive player getting tired while carrying the ball 20 or more times a game. Even as it is, the offensive snaps wear on York’s running back platoon.
“It’s exhausting, but I love it,” Stearns said. “It’s good to see both sides of the ball because it helps me learn the game.”
Originally the Dukes thought they might only have three running backs, but juniors Coughlin and Alexander added to the depth at the position. The hard part wasn’t finding able and willing ball carriers, it was adjusting to a new offense.
“Over the summer Coach Nudera did a great job taking it slow with us because it was a tricky offense to run,” Stearns said. “Eventually we caught on. Probably by the beginning of doubles was when we started to catch on and knew this could be a dynamic offense.”
York 52, Proviso East 22
Passing: Charlie Rose 5-for-9, 137 yards, 2 TDs
Rushing: Kyle Stearns 5-79, 2 TDs; Kyle Coughlin 7-115, TD; Dominic Ravenna 8- 56
Receiving: Jeff Ostling 3-83, TD; Kyle Preuss 1-30, TD