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Quarterback Hayden Mikesell (left) and Jacob Dado await the snap against Dolton on Oct 12.

Junior Varsity still perfect

Squad explodes for 38 first half points

 

By Kevin McGavin              
Photos by Ken Dado

 
ORLAND PARK  -- The junior varsity team has had an almost flawless season.
 
Sunday at Sandburg High School, the Pioneers’ jv squad used dominant efforts in all three phases of the sport to produce its sixth running-clock game in 
seven outings in Southwest Junior Midget Football League play.
 
Jacob Dado scored from three yards out to beat the second-quarter buzzer by 13 seconds to give Orland Park a virtually insurmountable 38-8 lead over Dolton at the intermission.
 
The Pioneers’ second unit of defensive players held the Bears scoreless in the second half as the final score remained unchanged during its seventh-straight win to open the season.
 
Field position was the story of the game.
 
The Pioneers (7-0) had a goal-to-goal scoring opportunity on the opening possession, only to have their bid fall short with consecutive incomplete passes at the Bears’ 7-yard line.
 
But Patrick Nolan broke the scoring ice not much thereafter.
 
With Dolton attempting to punt from its own end zone, the Bears’ kicker had to leap to retrieve a high snap.
 
Facing an almost certain block, the kicker made a desperate attempt to flee the end zone.
 
But Nolan stopped him for a safety.
 
“(The punter) was going to throw or run,” Nolan said. “From that point on the game was pretty much ours.”
 
Brian Donlevy returned the ensuing free kick 43 yards to the Bears’ 5-yard line.
 
Mike D’Antonio punched it in on the next play for the Pioneers as the one-sided nature of the contest was taking a clear shape.
 
Orland Park kicker Jack Brannigan pinned the Bears deep in their own territory on consecutive kickoffs as Dolton found itself repeatedly thwarted to shift the field-position battle.
 
“We’ve got a huge weapon with Jack Brannigan, No. 25, our kicker,” Orland Park coach Mark Mikesell said. “Once we scored, he set the tone with his kicks. There are three phases to the game — offense, defense and special teams — and we work a lot on (special teams).”
 
The Pioneers’ modest 8-0 lead after the first quarter ballooned significantly in the second quarter.
 
Donlevy intercepted the Bears’ quarterback two plays after the D’Antonio score, and Orland Park was back on the scoreboard when Dado scored from five yards out one play after the halfback burst free for a 23-yard run.
 
The situation for Dolton became untenable on its next snap as Orland Park linebacker Tyler Villa not only had a six-yard tackle for a loss but also stripped the ball and recovered it in the same motion.
 
“I saw the QB pump fake the ball,” Villa said. “I just read it and took the ball away. Our line was really pushing them down, and it made our job (as linebackers) a lot easier.”
 
D’Antoinio and Dado needed only a handful of combined touches to score another pair of touchdowns on the Pioneers’ following possessions.
 
The former raced untouched from 20 yards away on a sweep around the Bears’ right end to up the lead to 22-0 one play after the Villa strip.
 
Pioneer Patrick Nolan (31) squares up as part of the wall during an extra-point attempt against Dolton.
 
The Pioneers’ defensive starting unit — Brannigan, Nolan, Gregory Molda, Hayden MIkesell, Ibraheem Affaneh, Villa, Tristan Stefanos, D’Antonio, Alex Lalezas, Donlevy and Dado — collaborated to get the ball back on a Dolton loss of downs.
 
The Orland Park defensive starters did not allow a single first down in the game.
 
Dado, with Orland Park facing fourth-and-eight from the Bears’ 22-yard line, then made it a five-score game with his touchdown off a throw-back screen from quarterback Mikesell.
 
“My dad (Ken) has me watching videos of Walter Payton,” Dado said of his combination of elusiveness and desire to score. “I try to keep moving and keep pumping (my legs). I had some nice blocks. We were mentally more prepared than them.”
 
The Bears’ DeoVante Gilliam raced 67 yards with the ensuing kickoff to end the Pioneers’ bid for a shutout.
 
Regaining the ball late in the half, Donlevy and D’Antonio combined for three-consecutive catches — covering 34 yards in the process — to put Dado in ideal scoring position.
 
“We work on the two-minute drill every day in practice,” coach Mikesell said.
 
With a running clock the entire second half, legitimate scoring opportunities were virtually absent.
 
“We challenged them this week, and they responded,” coach MIkesell said of the Pioneers’ defensive reserves after Frankfort scored two quick touchdowns in the same situation a week before.
 
The other members of the Pioneers’ undefeated JV team are: Jalil McLaughlin, Dylan Namirowski, Ryan Leland, Joshua Heabrin, Malik Abdallah, Kyle Laird, Brandt Surdyk, John Pappas, Kevin Kost, Gregory Molda, Luis Rodriguez, Alexander Abdellatif, Mohammed Abuzir and Jake Hesselmann.
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