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Jason Uldrych muscles his way for several yards against Morris.

White Varsity romps to Homecoming win

34-0 victory is 30th-straight in-state triumph

Text by Kevin McGavin
Photos by Ken Dado

ORLAND PARK -- The final score indicates a five-score triumph, yet another one-sided laugher for the Orland Park Pioneers White Varsity for its Homecoming game against Morris on Saturday.
 
But there was still a defining moment for the Pioneers during their 34-0 triumph at the Humphrey Sports Complex.
 
The Pioneers could not have scripted a more electrifying start.
 
On the first play from scrimmage, Mike D’Antonio took a seemingly innocuous handoff from Orland Park quarterback Hayden Mikesell.
 
D’Antonio burst to open space off left tackle and made a brilliant cutback move to his right as part of his 58-yard romp to the endzone.
 
It would be all the points the Pioneers (5-0) would require in rolling to their 30th-consecutive victory over in-state competition.
 
Morris would not gain a first down on offense until the waning moments of the game.
 
But the next two times Orland Park had offensive opportunities in the wake of the gorgeous D’Antonio run, the Pioneers had to send their defensive unit back on the field after lost fumbles on a running play and punt return.
 
Orland Park, however, more than met the challenge of Morris initiating drives on the Pioneers’ side of midfield.
 
Jadon Thompson made amends for his fumbled punt return with the first of his two interceptions.
 
The Pioneers had forced their second three-and-out when Morris took over following the first lost fumble.
 
“It was a heck of a stop for us,” Orland Park coach Mark Mikesell said of Morris’ taking over at the Pioneers’ 46- and 29-yard lines. “(The two stops) were huge.”
 
Morris’ consecutive failures to capitalize would prove a bad omen for the Warriors as the Pioneers would not be denied on their next three possessions.
 
John Burner gets by one Morris defender and looks for more yardage.
Using big plays as their offensive focal point, Orland Park was unstoppable in building a 27-0 lead at the break.
 
In only one half of action, due to River Valley Youth Football League rules that mandate the replacement of all skill players in a running-clock situation after halftime, Mikesell engineered three-straight scoring drives.
 
Finishing 8-for-11 passing in the first half, Mikesell had almost 150 yards of passing.
 
Thompson was his favorite target -- the speedy wide receiver had four catches for 92 yards,  including receptions of 26 and 47 yards.
 
“I didn’t know what to do,” Thompson said of his thoughts following the misplayed punt return. “I thought I was going to have a bad game again. I had to redeem myself once again.”
 
“Jadon runs a great route every time,” Hayden Mikesell said. “It just makes it a lot easier to throw to him. He was wide open.”
 
Colin Bohanek also made up for his early lost fumble by capping the Pioneers’ second scoring drive of 86 yards in six plays by rumbling for 23 yards.
 
“We have a lot of different weapons,” coach Mikesell said.
 
Orland Park did not waste long to go back on the offensive when Luke Montgomery recovered an unintentional short kick in Morris territory.
 
D’Antonio, who finished with a game-high 102 yards on the ground on only six carries, had back-to-back double-digit gains on the 41-yard scoring march.
 
The second run — from 17 yards out — increased the Pioneers’ lead to 19-0 after Mikesell found Thompson with the successful pass conversion.
 
“I wouldn’t even have had a chance (on the touchdown runs) without the blockers,” D’Antonio said. “My linemen, my teammates really helped. After the two turnovers, we were kind of down on ourselves. We had to keep ourselves up, keep fighting.”
 
Morris could only manage two yards on its subsequent possession as the Pioneers forced yet another three-and-out.
 
With halftime rapidly approaching, the Pioneers’ collective sense of urgency took over.
 
D’Antonio had a 63-yard pass reception for a touchdown nullified on a holding penalty, but it mattered little to Orland Park.
 
Thompson gave Orland Park first and goal from the Warriors’ 10-yard line on the following play after a 47-yard bomb.
 
After a five-yard infraction and two-yard D’Antonio run, Hayden Mikesell threw a perfect pass — a fade to the right corner of the endzone — that Thompson gathered in with 37 seconds to go before halftime.
 
“Our defense put us in a great position,” Hayden Mikesell said. “Field position is a big part of the game.”
 
“We were able to protect in our passing game,” coach Mikesell said. “The offense played a complete offensive game.”
 
The Pioneers’ special teams accounted for the only score of the second half.
 
With Morris pinned deep in its own territory to start the third quarter, Bohanek and Jalil McLaughlin collaborated on a blocked punt.
 
Alex Lalezas scooped up the ball and ran it in from 10 yards to complete the latest romp.
 
“I was just waiting for a touchdown all year,” Lalezas said. “The adrenaline got into me, and I just ran it in. (The defense) took the pressure off the offense tonight.”
 
Jack Shelton ran in the conversion to conclude the scoring.
 
Contibuting to the White Varsity's latest shutout victory were: David Antoine, Victor Morkos, John Slechta, Sean Hanley, Blake Eberle, John Burner, Tristan Stefanos, Ryan Khatib, Gage Fauber, Jason Uldrych, Hugh Brennan, Luke Kezzierski, Mike Bosco, Blake Biszewski, Brett Fassler, Ethan McCormick, Rayan Agha, Michael Moehle, Isaiah Portillo, Frank Cannatello, Jonathon Trevino, Tyler Van Stedum, Jake Hesselmann and Brian Henehan.
 
The varsity cheerleaders who kept the crowd fired up were: Anna Crnich, Kayla Dombrowski, Marisa Garza, Breanna Gasparas, Gabriella Gianakas, McKenzie Hedinger, Kylie Kehlert, Samantha Kowalski, Hannah Scanlon, Ava Stroobosscher, Hannah Stroobosscher, Nina Dixon, Breanne Ferguson, Fiona Gallagher, Alissa Kochanny, Alexandra Kolodziejczyk, Samantha Poda, Samantha Santana, Lauryn McDonald and Hallie Hultquist.
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