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Pioneer running back Jimmy Lalezas looks to elude a pursuing Wildcat defender Saturday.
 

Frankfort Square National Widgets mount

all-weather attack vs. Orland Park

 

Marist High School makes Pioneers
feel right at home despite 12-0 loss

 

By Ed Muniz
Photos by Ken Dado

 
CHICAGO -- The Orland Park Pioneers were back at it in Southwest Junior Midget Football League action. Rain and cold was on the menu Saturday, so the elements were a factor.
 
Hosting their third home game, the Pioneers weren’t at their home field of Humphrey Park. Field conditions after the rains made it impossible to play there. Because the local high school doesn’t allow usage of its field on Saturday,the Pioneers instead hosted the games at Marist High School.
 
Pioneers president John Stefanos has a Marist connection that has come in handy the last few years. On this rainy, cold morning,field conditions at Marist were never an issue even after eight games were played.
 
In the opening game, the Pioneers National Widgets hosted the Frankfort Square Wildcats. Pioneers coach John Czerwinski’s team started out giving the Wildcats fits, but midway through the first half, the Wildcats found their offense and controlled much of the play in their 12-0 win.
 
“We couldn’t stay on the block, and it affected how we played. We just couldn’t get anything going,” Czerwinski said.
“We had a couple of things that cost us, just the basic fundamentals, but you know, we’re still getting better. It’s part of coaching, These are little kids; it’s all good.”
 
The Pioneers started out dominating defensively, as they gang tackled and forced the Wildcats to turn over the ball. Linebacker Brian Harms showed a nose for the ball, and was and in on numerous tackles throughout the game.
 
“I think I was just getting to where the ball was. I look which way I think they’re going to run, and I start running that way,” Harms said.
 
Harms also credited his quickness as key for his success. “I think it’s just natural ability, but I think I could get better," he said. "If I see somebody being wrapped up, I let them get the tackle, I think I should go in and get it.”
 
It wasn’t all Harms defensively for the Pioneers. Adding their defensive skills in the fracas were Andrew Dado, Luke Czerwinski, J.P. Czerwinski, Justin Hilgenberg, Vincent Villa and Jimmy Lalezas. All were credited with at least a pair of tackles.
 
The game’s first score came with 2:49 left in the first half when Franklin Square methodically worked iys way down the field on a 16-play drive and bounced in from a yard out to lead 6-0.
 
Orland Park's offense tried but just couldn’t sustain their drives or manage to get the needed yardage to find the end zone.
 
Hard-running Andrew Dado breaks through the Wildcat defensive line for a big gain.
The rushing of Lalezas, Scott Ryback and Dado was constantly slowed by groups of Wildcats. For Dado, most of his yards came after contact, and his refusal to go down on the first hit. The Pioneers effort was there, but the execution was hampered all game by the quicker Wildcats team.
 
After the second and final Franklin Square touchdown, the Pioneers offense had two opportunities to score. The first drive ended after four plays, and the last came up short as time ran out.
 
Other Pioneers contributing in the tough game were Sean Glynn, Ali and Mohammed Elagha, Ryan Samoska, Wayne Goodman, Connor O’Reilly, Coregan Kuempel, Mikey Mustafa, Amir Alian, Nathan Gray, Dennis Tarandy and Michael Sczurek.
 
The players weren’t the only ones fighting the elements. Doing their best to cheer on the home team, Pioneers third-grade cheerleaders didn’t let the constant pesky rain keep them from their work.
 
 
 
Breanna Pawlikowski, Kirsten Cappello, Morgan Hampe, Kayleigh Rose and Vivian Villa did all they could to keep the fans entertained by cheering on the Pioneers on the field.
 
Assisting them were junior coaches Alyssa Heavrin and Angelica Lach, along with cheer mom Colleen Rose.
 
“With the wet field and the weather being cold, it definitely is harder for the girls to perform, but we improvise on what we do and still have fun doing it,” Lach said. “We don’t ever want it to be hard on them. With games we try to make it fun, and of course it is.” 
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