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Photos by Ken and Diana Dado
Lightweight B Pioneers Isaiah Portillo (66), Mike Bosco (80), Zachary Stack (38) and Sean Hanley (22) gang-tackle their Bulldog opponent on Homecoming.

Lightweights struggle
against Tinley Park 

Highly touted visitors
break open defensive battle

By Kevin McGavin

ORLAND PARK -- Pioneers Lightweights coach Ken Stack realized his team would be hard-pressed against its counterparts from Tinley Park.
 
“They won their first two games 40-0,” Stack said.
 
The visitors proved themselves worth the hype in their 24-0 victory over the Pioneers Saturday afternoon at the Humphrey Sports Complex.
 
Lightweights quarterback Brandon Sewers was sacked seven times, and the Pioneers were held to three first downs for the game.
 
“Their linebackers were blitzing on almost every play,” Sewers said. “There wasn’t much I could do.”
 
The unquestioned highlights for the Pioneers came on the defensive side of the ball. Tinley Park had a long drive to start the game, but the Pioneers’ Isaiah Portillo and Mike Bosco had four combined tackles to derail the nearly six-minute drive.
 
Orland Park garnered its lone first down of the first half on a defensive pass interference penalty. But the Pioneers’ drive stalled on consecutive Tinley Park tackles for losses.
 
In what would become a common theme for the remainder of the game, the Pioneers could find no answer for the Bulldogs’ Ahron Ulis.
 
The athletic Tinley Park tailback broke free for a 30-yard touchdown on the Bulldogs’ second possession to give his team the lead for good.
 
The Pioneers had 10 yards in losses on their next possession, and the frustration was only magnified on the final first-half possession. Sewers lofted a long pass to a streaking receiver beyond the Bulldogs’ defense, but the connection wasn't made.
 
“We didn’t put any points on the board,” Sewers said. “That (completion) would have been great.”
 
The Pioneers’ defense rose for a goal-line stand late in the second quarter behind Sewers and Sean Hanley, but Tinley Park doubled its lead after capitalizing on a short punt.
 
Orland Park's lone sustained drive of the game came in the third quarter, but it also proved to be a turning point.
 
John Burner had a 24-yard pass reception from Sewers after Bosco earned the Pioneers’ second first down of the game.
 
Burner had extra motivation during the game.
 
“I don’t like to say it, but (the opposing players) were leading with their heads,” Burner said.
 
Any chance, though, that Orland Park had to reverse its two-score deficit evaporated when Sewers was hit before he released a fourth down pass. The Bulldogs’ Josh Kirnbauer returned the ball 80-plus yards for a back-breaking touchdown.
 
Orland Park coach Stack was pleased with several aspects of the contest.
 
The Pioneers Luke Kedzierski (46) runs up on a pair of upended Bulldogs near the end of the game.
 
“I thought it was a great game,” Stack said. “We played all 28 kids on the team. Everybody had fun. Come playoff time, I hope to see (Tinley Park) again.”
 
Contributors to the Orland Park cause included: Jacob Goodman, Anthony Dombrowski, Jacob Murphy, Brett Fassler, Luke Kedzierski, Anthony Stotts, Omar Elagha, David Antoine, Jack Shelton, John Slechta, Giovanni Fricano, Ryan Cary, Kyle McGrath-Ullrich, Robert Patterson, Matthew Murphy, Zachery Stack, Jason Uldrych, Hugh Brennan, Ethan McCormick, Rayan Agha, Tarik Deeb, Devin Thorpe and Vincent Messineo.
 
The Pioneers’ cheerleaders were local sixth-graders. On the sideline were: Caitlyn Brennen, Anna Crnich, Eman Deeb, Kayla Dombrowski, Maureen Fandl, Hannah Ford, Breanna Gasparas, Gabriella Gianakas, Lexie Hansler, Maura Harty, McKenzie Hedinger, Kayle Hoak, Ella Jeffries, KylieKehlert, Samantha Kowalski, Abigail Kuesis, Francesca Lasorella, Morgan McGuire, Hannah Scanlon, Libby Schout, Christina Shannon, Victoria Stratton, Ava Stroubossder and Hannah Stroubossder.
 
“I saw other cheerleaders at one of the games and thought it would be fun,” Kuesis said of her reason for joining.
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