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American Widgets' rally falls short

Drop 13-7 consolation championship
decision to Frankfort Square

 

By Ed Muniz

 
HOMER GLEN -- Kevin Killmer Field was the site of the 2014 Homer Widget Bowl Consolation Championship on Nov 3.
 
The two combatant were the Orland Park Pioneers and the Frankfort Square Wildcats. Each reached the finals after convincing wins in their semifinal games two days earlier.
 
Deciding to go on offense first, the Widget Pioneers wanted to establish a running attack that featured a trio of backs that often made defenses look as if they were standing still.
 
During the regular season, the three-headed Pioneer ground force had Nick D’Antonio, Frankie Edelen and Collin Jennings grabbing yard after yard every time they took off. Throw in a sprinkling of quarterback Jake Stefanos and the Pioneers looked nearly unstoppable.
 
I did say “nearly” because in this game, the Wildcats defense made nearly every Pioneer rushing attempt difficult. The result was a close, evenly played game that went 13-7 Frankfort Square’s way.
 
The Championship could have easily gone the Pioneers way as they twice got inside the Wildcats 10 yard-line and came away empty. A key play to end the first half turned out to be the deciding factor some 30 minutes later.
 
Things didn’t start off right for the Pioneers, who fumbled away their first offensive opportunity after three plays. A recovery by Franklin Square gave its offense excellent field position at the Pioneer 30-yard line.
 
From there, Frankfort Square took seven plays to get into the end zone. Even though they were giving up yardage, Orland Park's defense gave their all with Jennings and Stefanos leading the tackling effort. A 6-yard run and added extra point gave the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead in the opening 25-minute half.
 
Playing on an 80-yard field with no kickoffs, the Pioneers took over at their own 35 and proceeded to advance to the Franklin Square 6-yard line on 11 plays with Edelen, D’Antonio, Stefanos and Jennings working the ground game. 
 
The drive came down to a fourth-and-goal and a Stefanos pass that fell incomplete in the end zone giving the Wildcats offense the ball. The failed march ignited the Pioneers defense and they quickly turned in a 
three and out and forced a punt after Jennings Kyle Evoy and Connor Begley each grabbed a tackle.
 
With time winding down in the first half, the Pioneers quickly went to their run attack. From the Frankfort Square 28, one run by Jennings for 5 yards and another by Edelen for 10 had the Pioneers at the 13-yard line as the clock ran. 
 
Two plays later Jennings and Edelen again powered for six more yards each and had the Pioneers sitting at the Wildcats 2-yard line. After losing four yards on the next play, Jennings once again pummeled his way just short of the goal line.  
 
With just enough time left for one play, what turned out to be the moment of the game was a called quarterback sneak that never developed. A big rush by Frankfort stuffed the attempt while time ran out in the first half.
 
Starting the second half, the Pioneers quickly forced a punt when Nikola Abusara, D’Antonio and Edelen made short work of each Wildcat play. Going back to the offense, the Frankfort Square defense gave back as much as they got and also forced a turnover on downs.
 
The Wildcats upped their lead when they caught the Pioneers napping. A pitch-pass that resulted in a 14-yard touchdown increased the Frankfort Square lead to 13-0 and left the Pioneers reeling.
 
The Pioneers frustration kept building and hit a high when two plays later they coughed up the ball and lost it to the Wildcats for a second time. 
 
Defensively, one Pioneer became a fixture in the Wildcats backfield from then on. Jake Scumaci could have changed uniforms for the many times he beat the Frankfort Square blocker. He made several tackles and upset plays each time.
 
“I was getting in behind the offense," said the dimunutive Scumaci. "The guy in front of me wasn’t firing off the ball real good so I beat him every time.
 
"I work on firing off the ball a lot. I think we still had a dreally good season even if we lost. I like playing the D line, I think I’ll play that next year probably.”
 
With another defensive stop, the Pioneers offense knew they didn’t have much time to get back into the game. They began their effort from their own 25 yard-line. 
 
First, Stefanos scrambled for 8 yards, and then Edelen added 6 more. Next Stefanos found Max Konieczki on a 12-yard pass play. From there Jennings plowed for 8 yards, then 7 and again for 9 yards. He scored from the 1-yard line and added the point-after to make the score 13-7 with 2:49 left to play.
 
The Pioneers managed to stop the Wildcats once more but with just time for one more play at midfield. A sweep right by Edelen wasn’t nearly enough.
 
Jennings stood out for the Pioneer offense with 80 yards on 12 carries.
 
“I wanted the ball more, but didn’t ask for it,” said Jennings. “My offensive line was helping me out opening holes. I wish I had the ball when we didn’t score at half, I think I would have scored. I think next year we will be better too.”
 
For coach Frank Edelen, the frustration at the end of the game was clearly evident on his face -- not because of the loss as much as his sincere sorrow for a group of boys who played so well all season and 
his desire for them to end the season victorious.
 
“We just couldn’t score and got down two touchdowns," he said. "It was frustrating not to be able to get a win for these kids. Yesterday we won the Widget Bowl in New Lenox, so it’s a bad way to end the season. 
"It’s just disappointing for them. This is a talented group of boys, it will be interesting to see how they develop going forward. Some of these good team go from division to division and get better. 
 
"There are some good kids that have great skills. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.”
 
Players Anthony Shelton, Nicolas McKibben, Gavin O’Brachta, Cooper Sigel, Tommy Stotts, A.J. Grimes, Joe Rizza, Morgan O’Malley, and Ryan Ullewiet made contributions in the game and to the Pioneers' successful 
season.
 
There to cheer on their team was a group of Pioneer cheerleaders who did all they could to bring home a win. 
 
Kaelyn Ponce, Giselle Portillo, Aileen Tunney, Olivia Skrocki, Morgan Begley, Julia Katkowski, Vivian Villa, Tasneem Othman, Nicole Bonfitto, Nicolette and Sophia Allen, Sierra Sporleder and Vanessa Annel treated the attending parents to an entertaining evening on the sidelines. Coaches Zoey Krevitz and MaryLou Morin assisted their squad.
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