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Orland Park quarterback Connor Stack (left) eludes a Wildcats pursuer during the Pioneers season-opening win against Frankfort Square on Sunday.

Super Lightweights control

Frankfort Square in Scarlet tussle

Post dominating 18-7 win in league debut

By Ed Muniz
Photos by Diana Dado
 
ORLAND PARK -- The Orland Park Pioneers Football and Cheer youth organization kicked off its 2015 season in Tinley Park on Aug. 15. It was a new beginning for the Pioneers. The group left the Southwest Junior Midget Football League to make a new start in the River Valley Youth Football League.
 
Orland Park had four-of-its-eight teams on the docket against the Bulldogs.
 
After action concluded Saturday, the White Division Pioneer teams left with a split: winning 36-7 at the Varsity and 22-0 at the Junior Varsity levels while being ousted 33-7 in the Super Lightweight and 26-6 in the Lightweight divisions.
 
Sunday saw the Pioneers Scarlet teams take to the field as they played host to the Frankfort Square Wildcats at Sandburg High School.
 
When all the action of the four-game home opener was done, again the Pioneers split with the visitors: winning at the Super Lightweight and Varsity divisions while coming up on the short end with the Lightweight and Junior Varsity squads.
 
With the first game scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. Sunday and the heat of the day just starting, coach Ken Stack had his Super Lightweight team ready with a look of anticipation for the kickoff. You saw the same expression among the fans on both sides. The 6-, 7- and 8-year-old boys on both teams were excited to get after it on the 80-yard field.
 
After a 30-minute delay the game got underway. The Pioneers took the opening kickoff and 
proceeded to advance 54 yards behind the running of quarterback Connor Stack, and running backs Luke 
Detampel and Matthew Coleman, and some penalty yardage courtesy of the visitors.
 
Key on the initial drive was the quick-thinking Detampel, who was “Johnny on the Spot” and picked up a loose ball that never touched the ground after Coleman tried to dash up the middle and was hit. Detampel 
rushed 15 yards to the play to set up a 20-yard touchdown run by Coleman on the very next snap for a 6-0 lead.
 
Defensively, the Pioneers limited the Wildcats early behind the tackling of Mohammed Elagha, Holden 
Whittman and Evan Benos.
 
For Elagha, his presence in the Wildcats backfield was a constant disruption during the whole game, and he was easily the standout for the Pioneers.
 
“I was going outside and then went in and pushed the guys inside so I could get outside easy. It worked a 
lot,” said Mohammed.
 
Mohammed was relentless in his pursuit and really hampered the Wildcats offense -- and this from one of the smallest players on the field.
 
Ali Elagha (left) stays low to end a Franklin Square run Sunday.
 
After exchanging possessions, the Pioneers extended their lead when Terrell Patterson, Ali Alagha and 
Stack ran the ball effectively finding holes in the Wildcats defense. Coleman again found the end zone, this time streaking to the edge around left end and racing 25 yards with 1:06 left in the first half.
 
“I felt good about how I ran, it was a lot of fun,” said the elusive Coleman. “I think I run fast, and that 
makes it hard for them to catch me. I also spin and fall back so they get in front of me, and I spin around 
them.”
 
Coleman also mentioned that he could block on offense better and tackle more on defense.
 
The next Wildcats series ended quickly. Stack and Mohammed Elagha were forces defensively, and Elagha recovered a Frankfort Square fumble.
 
The Pioneers had one glitch in the game. Following the fumble recovery, the Pioneers gave the ball back to the Wildcats via an intercepted pass attempt by Stack.
 
Early in the fourth quarter, Stack took his offense and drove it to the Wildcats 10-yard line. After a steady dose of Patterson, Coleman and Ali Elagha rushing the ball, the stage was set for Stack to scamper 10 yards into the end zone after a missed hand-off. The points gave the Pioneers an 18-0 lead.
 
Frankfort Square managed to bust a long run of 42 yards to at the 7-minute mark, but that was all the 
points the Pioneers surrendered in their dominating 18-7 victory.
 
“It went the way I wanted it,” said coach Stack. “First game, we had a lot of mistakes, new league, a lot of new rules, mouthpieces in, a lot of discipline situations. The kids are young. A good learning 
experience, but the kids will get it. We came out with a win so we’re glad.”
 
Stack also added when asked who he thought stood out: “I think they all did. It’s a team effort.”
 
Others contributing to the season-opening win were: Colm Coyle, Chase Czerwonka, Matthew Iannitelli, 
Luke Basiorka, Joey Epley, Luke Pietsch, Keegan Kirk, Brian McBride, Sami Alrazzaq, Brody Wantroba, 
Lukas Boyce, Jack Fei, Jaden Weaver and Mitchell Kieklak.
 
There was also lots of action on the sidelines from the cheerleaders. The first-and-second-grade Pioneer cheerers withstood the heat and entertained the crowd.
 
The first and second grade Pioneer cheerleaders show their spirit.
Mia Vassalla, Kenzie Whitlow, Vanessa Annel, Kennidi Bensfield, Natalie Dado, Kamile Petruskaite, Isabell and Gabriella Rodriguez and Natalie Schmidt kept the energy flowing from the sidelines, and with their halftime performance.
 
They were led by coaches Jennifer Annel, Brandy Whitlow and Bonnie Schmidt, who were assisted by junior coaches Taylor Villa and Gianna White.
 
 
 
Today's Schedule: Season Schedule