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Blue 10/11s fall in title game

Pioneers hang tough, but fall to Oak Forest 13-0

 

By Kevin McGavin

 
 
TINLEY PARK -- It was an unintentional onside kick.
 
However, it proved to have dire consequences for the Blue 10/11s in their championship game against Oak Forest on Saturday at Andrew High School in Tinley Park.
 
The Pioneers’ team badly needed some momentum to start the second half after Oak Forest scored in the waning seconds of the opening half to secure a two-score lead. The second-half kickoff to Orland Park surpassed the requisite 10 yards, only to take funny bounce.
 
Oak Forest recovered in Pioneer territory, and the play proved to be emblematic of the game, which ended in a 13-0 Pioneers loss.
 
Orland Park saw its season come to a close with a 5-5-1 record.
 
“Losing that kickoff at the beginning of the second half really slowed down our momentum,” said Orland Park assistant coach Ed Hanley. “The boys were ready to come out hard in the second half, but that (change of possession) really deflated us. We couldn’t get the momentum back until too late in the game.”
 
Following the recovery of the loose ball, Oak Forest mounted a time-consuming drive.
 
Ben Westphal had a three-yard tackle-for-loss when Oak Forest penetrated the Pioneers’ red zone. After back-to-back touchdown-saving tackles from Jack Harty and Aidan Hanley, Ahmad Allrazac made sure Oak Forest did not dent the end zone for a third time. Allrazac had an interception in the end zone to terminate the eight-play drive.
 
“I saw the play action,” Allrazac said of his pick. “I just knew that it was a pass play. I saw the ball and came up with it.”
 
The rapid nature of the Southwest Junior Midget Football League games was on display for the Pioneers’ next possession.
 
The fourth quarter was already upon the team after Stephen Sullivan had back-to-back carries for the Pioneers.
 
Unfortunately for Orland Park, Oak Forest received the ball back in Pioneer country after the running back was stopped on fourth down.
 
Allrazac had sustained the drive four plays earlier with a fourth down conversion from the Pioneers’ 28-yard line.
 
Consistently moving the ball proved to be a major issue for the Pioneers.
 
“Offensively, we battled hard at the line of scrimmage,” Hanley said. “We were up against a bigger opponent.”
 
Added Allrazac: “We weren’t coming off the ball well enough.”
 
Oak Forest (8-1-2) mounted a seven-play drive after stopping the Pioneers on fourth down.
 
The highlights for the Pioneers’ Blue 10/11s were undoubtedly reserved on the defensive side of the ball.
 
Westphal had a pair of stops; Luke Stefanos added another, and Harty, who led the team with eight tackles, had his penultimate takedown to end the drive.
 
“I was blitzing and finding the ball,” Harty said. “It was a great season overall. (Playing in the championship) game was so exciting that I don’t have the words for it.”
 
The Pioneers’ final drive of the game produced the indelible offensive moment for Orland Park.
 
Orland Park took possession after denying Oak Forest at the Orland Park 9-yard line.
 
Following an incomplete pass, Luke DeVito found a seam along the left side of the Oak Forest defense and exploited it for a 29-yard run.
 
It was far and away the Pioneers’ longest play of the day.
 
“When I got the ball, the play was for the (No.) 4 hole,” DeVito said. “I accidentally ran out of bounds because there was no more room along the sideline. On the next play we fumbled the ball because the quarterback stretched out the ball too far (for the ball-carrier).”
 
The turnover proved to be the Pioneers’ final offensive play of the season.
 
The 24 members of the Pioneers' Blue 10/11 championship game qualifiers are: Jonah Hladish, Leo Glynn, Frank D’Antonio, Peter Kavouras, Conor McCormick, Connor Crotty, Martinas Petruska, Dominik Griffin, Daniel McNamara, John Alfarah, Angelo Citarella, Ryan Noonan, Alanas Linge, Xavier Hernandez, Damien Bahar, John Wirth, Stefanos, Westphal, DeVito, Laird, Hanley, Harty, Sullivan and Allrazac.
 
Cheerleaders for the Blue 10/11 team this season were: Nicolle Allen, Sophia Allen, Vanessa Annel, Morgan Begley, Ava Bernardi, Nicole Bonfitto, Annabella Cannici, Lucie Chicvara, Mia Franzese, Ava Franzese, Gianna Frech, Julia Kalkowski, Emma Kanagy, Keira Kehlert, Morgan Onderwater, Tasneem Othman, Kamile Petruskaite, Kaelyn Ponce, Giselle Portillo, Gileena Ressardi, Reese Rodriguez, Natalie Schmidt, Olivia Skrocki, Sieira Sporleder, Gianna Staudt, Aileen Tunney, Gevevieve Turney, Mia Vassala, Vivian Villa.
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