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Pioneer Julian Loeza (center) dives and drags his feet during his tackle of a Morris runner Saturday. Teammates Michael Ulleweit (42) and Anthony Stotts (51) aided in the pursuit.

White JV can't fight past Morris

Lack of offense, miscues lead to 12-0 Homecoming defeat

Text by Kevin McGavin
Photos by Ken Dado
 
ORLAND PARK -- It was not the opening drive the Orland Park White Junior Varsity team envisioned for its Homecoming game against Morris on Saturday at the Humphrey Sports Complex.
 
Beginning the first possession of the game at their 25-yard line, the Pioneers had two one-yard gains on their opening three snaps.
 
Forced to punt, Jimmy Rolder had no choice but to fall on the loose ball after the snap sailed on the Pioneers punter.
 
“The snap was way over my head,” Rolder said.
 
Morris needed only one play to convert from four yards out and score all the points it would need in its eventual 12-0 victory over the Pioneers.
 
“It was not (a) good (start) at all,” Orland Park defensive lineman Danny Witkowski said. “It would have taken a miracle for our defense (to prevent a score).”
 
It was the third-consecutive time the Pioneers’ Junior Varsity suffered a shutout defeat after opening the River Valley Youth Football League with back-to-back wins.
 
Orland Park coach Tom McAuliffe, whose team has not scored since star skill-position player Mark Brannigan was lost to a season-ending injury three weeks ago, took the latest setback in stride.
 
“It was a pretty good game,” McAuliffe said. “I don’t want to make any excuses. With the weather, we weren’t able to practice all week — and you could see it out there. The first half, we made a couple of mistakes. Those little things made a big difference.”
 
The Pioneers were unable to move the chains on offense the entire first half.
 
The lone play for double-digits — a 12-yard quarterback keeper by Kevin Zimmer — came one play after a false-start infraction to begin the Pioneers’ second possession.
 
Unfortunately for the Orland Park offense, back-to-back lost fumbles were too much to overcome as the Warriors built a two-score lead before the intermission.
 
The Pioneers (2-3) were able to stop the Warriors on fourth down after the first miscue as Luke Masino and Rolder collaborated on a key defensive stop.
 
Running back Giovanni Fricano looks to break off a big run for the Pioneers.
But Morris was soon back in business in plus territory after the next Pioneers’ drive also ended with a turnover.
 
Five minutes into the second quarter, Morris had its second touchdown after a five-play, 41-yard drive.
 
The Pioneers finally solved the Warriors’ defense for their initial first down of the game on their opening drive of the second half.
 
Julian Loeza hauled in a 23-yard reception on fourth-and-six to give Orland Park its first dent into Morris territory.
 
The Pioneers’ wide receiver fumbled the ball but had the presence to recover his own drop.
 
“On that play, on the fourth down, I caught it but wasn’t able to keep control of it,” Loeza said.
 
But the Pioneers’ drive was cut short by a crucial offensive pass interference call.
 
Rolder caught a six-yard pass on fourth down, but the Pioneers needed far more yardage to sustain the drive.
 
The Pioneers’ defense, though, played admirably in the second half.
 
The Orland Park defenders forced a three-and-out, and Loeza made the play of the game on the ensuing possession.
 
On third-and-15 at the Pioneers’ own 43-yard line, Loeza had a 19-yard connection from Zimmer.
Loeza laid out on the ball and caught it on his fingertips from a completely prone position.
 
“I didn’t think I was going to catch up to that ball,” Loeza said. “I dove, put my hands out and hoped I could stab it.”
 
“As a coach, I think Julian is a terrific athlete,” McAuliffe said. “This is my third year coaching him, and I am more and more impressed with him after each year.”
 
Rolder and Zimmer connected for a 15-yard pass on third-and-18, but the Pioneers’ final offensive play resulted in a loss-of-downs missed opportunity.
 
“We didn’t have practice all week (due to weather issues), so I think we played fairly evenly,” said Orland Park feature back Jacob Maziarka.
 
“The drives stalling, the problem was there were some bad snaps,” Loeza said. “We just have to work at it in practice.”
 
Giovanni Fricano had the lone score in the Pioneers’ 7-0 exhibition performance that preceded the main game.
 
“Our fifth-quarter kids have really played great,” McAulifee said. 
 
“I like to break through people,” Fricano said of his 30-yard run along the right sideline. “I just run fast.”
 
Masino and Zakery Bowden earned starts this week for the Pioneers on the basis of their play last week in the Orland Park fifth-quarter action.
 
Joseph Shelton, Tommy McAuliffe, Christopher Slechta, Tommy Ward, Shaw Stukel, Ben Schieber, Jackson Schramm, Max Poda, Luke DeVito, Trevor Jennings, Michael Ulleweit, Jonathon Klutcharch, Jake Liskiewicz, Conor McCormick, Jake McGriff, Frank D’Antonio, Anthony Stotts, Gavin Kissane, Jacob Goodman, Jack Frazier, Angelo Citarella, Anthony Dombrowski, Ryan Noonan and Kyle Peterson competed for the Pioneers’ JV squad.
 
The halftime cheerleading performers were: Averey Bartley, Brittany Booker, Brooklyn Cooper, Carleigh Fountain, Paige Gasparas, Maria Gonsch, Erin Haw, Emma Herout, Audrey Hickman, Brianna Iraci, Marissa Jentel, Mariah Karamagianis, Mia Maniastis, Ella McDonald, Megan Murphy, Victoria Panek, Gianna Patterson, Sydney Pisarik, Sarah Santana, Terra Schommer, Genevieve Schramm, Kara Stevens, Natalia Stratton, Nicole Tatar and Betty Tsoutsas.
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