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Running back Mike D'Antonio finds a huge hole during the Pioneers 45-12 win over Frankfort Sqaure. 

Junior varsity runs over Frankfort Square

Pioneers keep perfect record intact with 46-12 victory

 

By Kevin McGavin
Photos by Ken Dado

 
 
CHICAGO -- Mike D’Antonio fumbled on one of his first carries Saturday night at Marist High School, but not much else went wrong for the Orland Park running back.
 
Good fortune started to shine on him when his lone miscue was corralled by a teammate.
 
He capped the drive shortly thereafter and also added first-half scoring runs of 42 and 49 yards in the Pioneers’ 46-12 rout of Frankfort Square.
 
D’Antonio had 157 yards on a mere five carries for Orland Park, which extended its season-long winning streak to six games.
 
The Pioneers’ starting backfield was rested in the second half after Orland Park built a commanding 39-0 halftime lead and initiated a running clock for the second half.
 
It was the fourth time this season Orland Park has invoked the football equivalent of the baseball slaughter rule.
 
“We just told the kids to come out and stay aggressive,” Pioneers jv coach Mark Mikesell said. “We have a lot of weapons. We have running backs who can run the ball. We have a quarterback who can throw the ball.”
 
Frankfort Square was operating at an extreme disadvantage -- the team had but three reserves to augment its starting 11.
 
“I think that because they only had 14 guys, we scored a lot,” D’Antonio said. “If they would have had their whole team, the score would have been a little different.”
 
The Pioneers focused on execution and unleashed their quick-strike potential with regularity.
 
After forcing Franklin Square to punt on its opening drive, Jacob Dado had a signature moment. The Pioneers’ deep man on special teams fielded a punt at his own 45-yard line and started off to the right but completely changed course and picked up a convoy of blockers down the left sideline for the second touchdown of the quarter.
 
“I was running the ball, trying to get the cutback,” Dado said. “We were more mentally prepared than (Frankfort Square).”
 
 
Hayden Mikesell awaits the snap.
 
D’Antonio then did what Frankfort Square could not on its next possession: break free on a fourth-down run.
 
D’Antonio had a 42-yard burst around left end with the Wildcats’ defense gambling at the line of scrimmage. The Pioneers had foiled the Wildcats on fourth down to get the ball back.
 
Jack Brannigan had his third-consecutive kick conversion moments later to extend the Pioneers’ lead to 24-0. The kicker then decided to join the scoring in a different manner.
 
Orland Park quarterback Hayden Mikesell needed but one play on the Pioneers’ third-offensive possession to make it a four-score game. Mikesell hit Brannigan, the Pioneers’ speedy wide receiver, with a bomb down the right side. Brannigan waltzed into the end zone to complete the 56-yard play.
 
With 7:48 to play before halftime, the Pioneers’ cushion was extended to an insurmountable lead of 32-0.
 
But the fireworks were far from complete from the Pioneers’ big-play attack.
 
D’Antonio, lined up as a flanker on the left side, swept around the right side and raced virtually untouched down the sideline for the last of his first-half touchdowns.
 
“They were tough runs,” D’Antonio said of his three 40-yards-plus carries on the night.
 
The Pioneers’ imposing five-score lead at halftime meant coach Mikesell could substitute liberally in the second half. League rules also mandate the replacement of skill-position starters; Joshua Heavrin answered the call for the Pioneers.
 
Frankfort Square (0-6) scored on back-to-back possessions, but Heavrin followed solid carries by Ryan Leland and Kyle Laird with a memorable run of his own.
He found a seam at midfield on the far right side and raced into the end zone after a 50-yard run.
 
“I was supposed to go through the middle but saw it was clogged,” Heavrin said. “I ran as hard as I could to get to the outside. I had a few great blocks to get me there.”
 
Jalil McLaughlin, Dylan Namirowski, Brian Donlevy, Mark Fassler, Tyler Villa, Tristan Stefanos, Patrick Nolan, Malik Abdallah, Ibraheem Affaneh, Brandt Surdyk, John Pappas, Kevin Kost, Gregory Molda, Luis Rodriguez, Alexander Abdellatif, Mohammed Abuzir, Jake Hesselmann and Alex Lalezas round out the undefeated Orland Park (6-0) roster.
 
Kennedy Costa, Nina Dixon, Breanne Ferguson, Faith Fiorg, Fiona Gallagher, Alexandra Henninger, Shea Jones, Alyssa Kochanny, Rugile Laurinaityte, Lexie Nelles, Bailee Panfil, Madalyn Riebel, Caroline Schmidt, Nicole Sendera, Rorie Wilson and Jenna Witt cheered for the Pioneers.
 
“We have very high expectations (for the girls),” said Tricia Welch, a Sandburg senior who is an assistant cheer coach for the Pioneers. “We have set the bar pretty high.”
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