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White Lightweights tripped up by top seed

Edelen, Crnich score in 26-12 loss that ends season

 
By Kevin McGavin
 
ORLAND PARK -- The River Valley Youth Football quarterfinal could not have not started any better for the White Lightweights on Sunday afternoon.
 
Collin Jennings broke across the grain for a 51-yard gain on the opening play from scrimmage.
 
Nick Edelen scored from five-yards out on the ensuing play.
 
But the good fortunes for the White Lightweights would be short-lived against top-seeded Tinley Park.
 
The Bulldogs scored on their following four possessions to not only usher in a running clock but also end the Pioneers’ season at 6-4.
 
Tinley Park extended its season-long winning streak to 10 games in terminating the Pioneers’ season at the Humphrey Sports Complex in Orland Park.
 
“We had to play a perfect game to beat this team,” Lightweight coach Frank Edelen said. “We had to be turnover-free, penalty-free. We never quit today, and that’s the important thing.”
 
The White Lightweights saw their season come to a close with a 26-13 defeat at the hands of Tinley Park.
 
Jennings’ 51-yard romp cutting against the grain to the left side put Orland Park in prime scoring position on the opening drive.
 
“There was an open hole, and I took it,” Jennings said.
 
Edelen capped the two-play drive with a sweep to the right.
 
“We have been running that play in practice for a few weeks now,’ Edelen said. “But we have never run it in a game. No one has seen it. I think they weren’t ready for it.”
 
Unfortunately for the Pioneers, Tinley Park would be a well-oiled machine for its next four offensive possessions.
 
Tinley Park quarterback Kyle Thomas was unstoppable.
 
On its ensuing three drives, Tinley Park scored on a quarterback keeper, a 53-yard catch-and-run and a 40-yard scamper.
 
The Pioneers, meanwhile, had two three-and-outs on their second- and third-offensive possessions.
 
“Almost at will, It seemed liked they scored,” coach Edelen said. “(Thomas) might be the best player in the league. We had a nice run, but reality set in on the second drive. We literally didn’t play well defensively. We did the best we could.”
 
The critical offensive possession came right before halftime.
 
The Pioneers were trailing by two scores when they started their fourth possession at the 34-yard line with two-plus minutes remaining before the intermission.
 
Starting quarterback Jake Stefanos connected with Nick Edelen and Nikola Abusara for long pass plays to put the Pioneers in prime scoring position.
 
But Abusara was stopped seven yards short of a touchdown after receiving a lateral from Stefanos.
 
The Pioneers entered the halftime break trailing by two touchdowns.
 
“They were getting outside of us,” Jennings said of the Bulldogs’ big plays. “We weren’t doing our job.”
 
In the second half, the Bulldogs moved 54 yards in seven plays to initiate a running clock with six minutes and 26 seconds to play as Thomas had a nine-yard keeper for his second touchdown.
 
But the Pioneers were ever resilient on the next possession.
 
Stefanos hit Nick Edelen with a perfect pass.
 
Edelen would have had a sure touchdown, but the ball bounced off his hands and hit his facemask.
 
However, Edelen had the presence of mind to haul the ball in for a first-and-goal opportunity.
 
“I didn’t think I was going to catch it,” Edelen said. “I saw (the ball), reached out and grabbed it. I just lost my balance.”
 
But the Pioneers’ drive would stall after a first-and-goal as Edelen was stopped for a one-yard loss after receiving a lateral from Stefanos on fourth down.
 
With the game in a running-clock mode, Tinley Park had to remove its starting backfield.
 
Operating from a short field, the Pioneers only had to move 16 yards for their second score.
 
Nathan Crnich caught a halfback option from Jake Scumaci for the Pioneers’ final score.
 
“I am really happy for that one,” Crnich said. “We only had one touchdown on that play before. It was a Wednesday league game. It was a long time ago.”
 
Contributing to a game effort by the Pioneers were: Jacob Corluka, Braden Tischer, Nicholas Zahara, Anthony Shelton, Nicolas McKibben, Logan Frazier, Charlie Soltys, Connor O’Reilly, Tommy Durkin, Nick D’Antonio, Frank Edelen, Kyle Evoy, Colin Drew, Tommy Stotts, Aidan Hanley, A.J. Grimes, Joe Rizza, Jack Johnson, Joseph Calacci, Connor Begley, Tyler Biszewski and Xavier Fernandez.
 
Entertaining the crowd and urging on their team were the Lightweights cheerleaders: Sophia Allen, Nicolette Allen, Nicole Bonfitto, Annabella Cannici, Lucie Chicvara, Aubrey Conroy, Marianna Cuevas, Gianna Frech, Lilly Jeanes, Samantha Masino, Tasneen Ofthaman, Reese Rodriquez, Olivia Skrocki, Siera Sporleder, Gianna Stuadt, Vivian Villa, Allison Welch, Kayleigh Rose, Kaylee Swiech and Abby Fandl.
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