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Running back John McAuliffe slows down after scoring the first of three touchdowns against Morris.

White Super Lightweights break out of rut

End 2-game losing streak with shutout Homecoming victory

Text by Ed Muniz
Photos by Ken Dado
 
ORLAND PARK -- Well into their 2015 Homecoming festivities with a theme honoring our troops, the Orland Park Pioneers had already seen 3-of-4 teams go down in defeat. But that didn’t dampen the spirits of the day as all the activities along the endzones continued under numerous tents and canopies. 
 
The overflow of Pioneer parents and families were at it early and planned on being there throughout the day and evening. With a jump pit for kids of all sizes to enjoy, grills smoking and trays of various food items, the festive atmosphere just needed more victories on the football field. 
 
Next up on the game schedule was Todd Shelton and his brigade of White Super Lightweights. On the season, this group of players have had that “Jekyll and Hyde” appearance. Going into this game you just didn’t know what to expect. 
 
Starting the season being drubbed at Tinley Park and then following that with their own drubbing of an opponent, a close third game and a dominated shutout loss, you had a feeling it was now their turn to dominate an opponent. 
 
That homecoming opponent was the Warriors, of Morris. Staying in sequence, the Pioneers of course dominated and outplayed the visitors thoroughly, winning 19-0 thus giving their home crowd once again, a memory of triumph on this special day.
 
Having quite possibly the best seven- or eight-year-old football player in the area, coach Todd Shelton used his young star player named John McAuliffe early and often. 
 
Three plays into the game, McAuliffe took a handoff from quarterback Brady Grimes and left every Morris defender far behind him with a 45-yard sprint for his first touchdown. When Jack Elliott added the point-after, the Pioneer led early 7-0.
 
When the Pioneers went to their defense, they didn’t take long to get the ball back to their offense. Elliott forced a fumble with a hard tackle and managed to also recover the loose ball.
 
It took the Pioneers just one play to jump ahead 13-0 when McAuliffe again showed his talent going 30 yards untouched after easily outracing the Warrior defense around end to the sidelines.
 
As easily as it looked for the Pioneers offensively, it wasn’t much different defensively. Dominic Citarella was a force taking on multiple blockers and still making the tackle. 
 
“I still could get more tackles,” said Citarella.
 
When Grimes came up with another Warrior fumble, the Pioneer offense was back at it. Grimes, McAuliffe and Elliott softened the Morris defensive line taking chunks on consecutive runs until McAuliffe once again outraced everyone else 30 yards into the endzone for his third touchdown on the day that gave the Pioneers a 19-0 lead.
 
Offensively, McAuliffe dominated for the Pioneers but defensively he shared the glory. Brady Pisarik and Jonathan Snider were stellar against the Warrior rush all first half.
 
Jack Elliott breaks away from a Morris defender in the Pioneers Homecoming win.
When the teams came back out to start the second half, you could see in the Pioneers faces they felt well in control while the Morris sideline looked defeated. The running game for the Pioneers remained the same with Elliott and McAuliffe getting their touches but that first half success now eluded them. The unit turned over the ball on downs their first two possessions.
 
Whether it was the Warriors defense finally stepping up or the contentment of the Pioneer leaders, Orland Park gave other players an opportunity in the backfield the remainder of the game.
 
Both Pisarik and Citarella got their chance to run the ball. 
 
“I really like running back, the cool thing is gaining yards, and it’s cool to maybe get touchdowns, that’s what I like about being a running back. I’m usually a lineman,” said an elated Citarella.
 
Also getting his chance in the backfield was Anthony Edelen. His compact stockiness gave the appearance of a cannonball being shot off each time he ran the ball. He didn’t look for holes, he just made his own and ran hard.
 
“I really like to play center and also run the ball, but I really like being the center,” said Edelen. “I like when we go on two or three and make sure I get the snap off, but when I run the ball I like to run to the middle and try to get outside, I just chug away.”
 
Defensively, the Pioneers stayed sharp and saw multiple tackles from McAuliffe and Elliott but also from Colin Ferguson, Nathan Uldrych, Wayne Goodman, and Snider.
 
Other Pioneers disrupted the Warrior offense. Nick McGriff, Jake Buechele, Todd Shelton, Jake Tomczak, Nicholas and William Slechta, Michael Pursel and Jeff Bellik all chipped in to keep the Warriors scoreless.
 
The Pioneers improved to 2-3 on the season and gave the Homecoming crowd their third-straight victory on the day.
 
“It all started in warmups,” said head coach Todd Shelton. “I looked at the kids, they were focused, they were ready to go, they knew what their task was, everybody was on the same plan, and the kids were ready! These kids are starting the get more aggressive and that’s key. We can still improve on the line, it starts and stops right there. They were awesome today. They all did outstanding.”
 
The sidelines were now heating up with the sun now beaming own and drying the moisture of the early downpour. The spectators also seemed to shake off the wetness and were well into the festivities. Making sure they stayed that way were first-and-second grade Pioneer cheerleaders: Ava Bernardi, Cate Burke, Ella Groark, Nadia Karamagianis, Keira Kehlert, Gabriela Keysboe, Isabell Masino, Ryligh Maugeri, Natalie Oprondek, Kaelyn Ponce, Makensie Prah, Sophia Shamhart, Graysen Staudt and 
Aileen Tunney.
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