Middle linebacker Zane Heemsoth made an impact on the York football team even before the season even started.
As a junior, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound returning starter was named captain with seniors Clayton Davey, Joey Jaeger and David Leonard.
"It was an honor,” Heemsoth said. “(York coach Matt Monken) told me that a lot of these people voted for me and it was just awesome to lead them out there on the field.”
Heemsoth is helping the Dukes look forward after an 0-3 start against good competition.
In a 33-8 loss to undefeated Lyons Township in the West Suburban Conference Silver opener Sept. 8 in Elmhurst, York trailed 23-0 after an unproductive first half.
The Dukes scored on the first possession of the second half and reached the 6-yard line on their next before turning the ball over on downs.
“Even though the score didn’t show it, I thought our kids played really well. We easily could have (trailing 23-0) tucked it in and we didn’t. We made it a ballgame,” Monken said. “The first half we struggled. We didn’t do much with the ball and you can’t do that. But the kids didn’t give up so I’m proud with that.”
Heemsoth has a more prominent role this season, moving from outside to middle linebacker with senior Nick Bauer.
“(Selecting Heemsoth captain) was pretty much unanimous so he’s a great leader,” Monken said.
Lyons senior quarterback Ben Bryant, a Cincinnati recruit, passed for 159 yards and two touchdowns, but York’s defense also held for two field goals. Jack Wagner and Bo Thomas had tackles for losses.
“That’s what we have to do, focus on the positives, what we did well. And then just also focus on the things that we didn’t do well sometimes,” Heemsoth said. “(This season) I think I’m a lot more physical especially because I got moved into the box. I have to face a lot more offensive linemen, bigger guys. I just have to shut them down and make plays.”
The challenge offensively has been finding consistency and overcoming penalties. York was penalized 12 times Friday for 95 yards, 67 in the first half to accompany 56 yards of offense.
Running backs Jaeger and Grant Melion were out with ankle injuries. Senior Joey Chiappetta scored on a 76-yard pass from Leonard by beating a defender in the air for the ball just past midfield. It was Chiappetta’s first varsity touchdown.
“We just started playing with confidence (in the second half). The first half we were kind of getting down on ourselves, arguing in the huddle,” Chiappetta said. “(Now) we just need to, in practice, go as hard as we can.”