ST. CHARLES – Kyle Stevens is only a month or so removed from the end of his high school baseball season. Yorkville has been out of school less than four weeks.
But make no mistake, the Foxes are ready for football.
“Everybody is itching to get on the field,” said Stevens, a Yorkville senior who is vying for the starting quarterback job. “We know we can be special.”
The energy around the Yorkville program is understandable. The Foxes last season went 6-5 and reached the second round of the playoffs for the third straight time an IHSA postseason was held. A loss to eventual Class 7A semifinalist Brother Rice in the second round only fueled the Foxes’ fire for a deeper run.
Yorkville was in action at the Fox Valley 7-on-7 on Thursday, June 30, at St. Charles North.
“I think we’re ready to break the barrier,” Stevens said. “That’s been the talk, is to get past the second round. We’re looking to do more this year.”
Stevens is part of a fairly inexperienced group of Yorkville skill-position players cutting their teeth this summer. He said he played a little bit in the Romeoville game last fall, but other than rarely saw the field behind starter Nate Kraus.
“I think I have a very good understanding with what we’re trying to do with the concepts,” Stevens said. “I feel I have good size, 6-foot-3, still growing. Good size and good understanding of things.”
Yorkville’s receivers and running backs are also new for the most part, with the exception of Gio Zeman. Zeman, part of a backfield rotation last year, had a breakout game in a Week 9 win over Oswego, running for 132 yards and five touchdowns.
“I think Gio is due for a breakout season,” Stevens said. “I’m really excited to see what we have. We have a lot of young receivers, a lot of sophomores. Our D-line is going to be a strength. Our secondary is young, although Keyvon [Powell] at corner is doing very well.”
The Foxes’ strength, and indeed its most experienced group appears to be the front seven defensively. Andrew Laurich and Jake Davies will return on the defensive line, with Blake Kersting, Ben Alvarez and Hunter Janeczko back at linebacker.
“Our front seven is going to be pretty good,” Yorkville defensive coordinator Tom Regnier said. “We’re inexperienced on the back end but simplifying some things will help us a lot. We have some guys who can do some damage back there, but we’re going to lean on the front seven for sure.”
A ringleader of that group is Kersting, a two-time All-Area selection back for his third varsity season. Kersting at St. Charles reflected on his maturation from a young, talented player to team leader.
“It’s kind of crazy driving everybody here. I was the carpool today. Just a week ago it seems I was the one hitching rides with everyone else,” Kersting said. “I just got to be a natural leader with my awareness and knowledge of the game, team the young kids, make them better.”
Kersting, who has been on a couple college visits, including Drake, continues to strive to get better himself. He’s gained 20 pounds of muscle since last season.
“I think we know we have a good team, and have confidence going into this year,” Kersting said. “Winning our conference would be a big thing. Being the big man on the totem pole, that would be huge for us.”
The Foxes had only five days of camp before the Fox Valley 7-on-7, so Regnier said that “we’re clearly just a shell of what we can be.” The 7-on-7 format, too, probably isn’t conducive to the type of football Yorkville will like to play.
“We’re a tough team that’s going to come down and hit you,” Regnier said. “This is a great time to go attack the ball, but it’s not football. Our identity is going to be the same. We’re going to be a downhill team, and hit people.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle