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The Pioneers' John McAuliffe (7) and Braden Tischer (5) pursue a Bourbonnais ball carrier.

Lightweights cruise past Bourbonnais

Pioneers' complete team effort delivers 21-0 win

 
By Ed Muniz
Photos by Ken Dado
 
ORLAND PARK -- When the 38-member Orland Park Pioneers Lightweight team took to the field at Sandburg High School on Sunday in their 2016 opener in the River Valley Youth Football League season, the hosts would be led by not one, but two head coaches. Ken Stack and Larry Tischer are guiding the Pioneers this year.
 
The two-head coach approach seemed to work out just right as the Lightweight Pioneers dominated from the opening kickoff and played controlled and forceful football to begin the season with a 21-0 shutout of the visiting Bourbonnais Bears.
 
Starting their opening drive at midfield, Pioneer quarterback Jake Scumaci used a tandem of running backs to set Orland Park’s power ground game in motion. Braden  Tischer and Frankie Edelen provided all the offense needed to jump out to an early 7-0. Edelen raced nine yards for the game’s first score and Tischer added the conversion. Along the way, the backs alternated carries.
 
It didn’t take but one more play for the Pioneers to grab their second offensive opportunity. Anthony Shelton came up with a loose Bourbonnais ball. The turnover handed the Pioneers offense excellent field position at the Bears 47-yard line.
 
Using Edelen’s elusiveness, the Pioneers were soon back in the red zone and looking to add to their lead. On consecutive plays, the speedy running back ran for 38 and 42 yards, but the first was negated by a penalty. Another 10-yard run by Tischer concluded the first quarter and put the Pioneers at the Bourbonnais 8-yard line.
 
Not missing a beat after Edelen suffered an injury, the Pioneers went to John McAuliffe who kept the running attack formidable. The Pioneers jumped ahead 13-0 when Tischer blasted 6 yards for the touchdown. McAuliffe added the extra point.
 
With the defense swarming to the ball, the visitors did not find the success they had earlier in the pregame fifth quarter which features a 20-play offensive and defensive set for those players who see limited action in the regularly schedule contest. The Bears dominated that action with three scores and shutting out the Pioneers.
 
In the main event, the Pioneers’ Evan Benos showed his skills and proved himself a dominant defensive foe. He peppered Bourbonnais with tackles and grabbed a big sack.
 
“The guy that was supposed to block me didn’t even touch me,” said the defensive star. “So I saw the QB about to handoff, I was right there to make the tackle, I was really happy and did a celebration when I got up. 
 
“They did get some big runs so we have to stop that and pursue to the ball better, but we still did great.”
 
Once again the Pioneers offense took over in Bears territory on their third possession. Connor Stack opened the series with a 15-yard scamper but the drive stalled as the Bears defense now keyed on both McAuliffe and Tischer. That forced a turnover on downs that gave the ball back to Bourbonnais. It was the first time all game the visitors’ size came into play. Orland Park held its comfortable 14-0 lead at halftime.
 
Opening the third quarter on defense, the Pioneers continued to make things difficult for the Bears offense with its stingy defense. Frustration was evident on the visiting sideline and on the field where the Bears offense was unable to make headway against the darting and slicing Pioneer defense. Stack, Tischer, Benos, and Nathan Gray led the Pioneer effort.
 
After forcing a punt, Connor Stack got to the ball and nearly broke free for a score. He ran 22 yards on the return, but the great punt return went for naught as the Pioneers lost the ball on the next play on a fumble.
 
Back on defense the Pioneers totally controlled the play with numerous team tackles. Each time the Bears tried to advance the football, they were met by several Pioneers. The hosts seemed to be focused on not allowing any yardage. Again Benos stuffed plays at the line, and Stack patrolled beyond.
 
John McAuliffe (7), Evan Benos (65) and Connor O"Reilly (23), pen in a Bourbonnais runner in the Pioneers' 21-0 victory.
It didn’t take long for the Pioneers to extend their lead once play began in the final quarter. The running of McAuliffe and Tischer gained chunks of yardage. A big play by quarterback Scumaci set up the final score. He surprised the defense and ran 27 yards down the sidelines. The effort left him just short of the goal line. 
 
From there McAuliffe used his power running to bust into the endzone from two yards out. Vince Villa added the extra point to conclude the Pioneers scoring.
 
Offensively the Pioneers displayed a running game that could end up being difficult to handle. Edelen’s  speed made him difficult to catch. McAuliffe combines strength and speed to get his yards. But Braden Tischer appeared to be the most elusive. He isn’t the fastest nor the most powerful back but is simply difficult to grab. His shiftiness and slashing running style was too elusive for the Bears to handle this afternoon.
 
“I was a little nervous in the first half, a bit scared, but in the second half I faced my fears,” said Braden. “I really gave it to them and ran the fastest I ever had before and wasn’t going to go down easy. I wasn’t scared at all then.”
 
As good as he was on offense, the young running back felt he stood out more on the other side of the ball.
 
“I thought I was really good on defense, but I have to keep working hard at practice. I think I can get better at blocking and help out more.”
 
There were many contributors to the Pioneers opening win. They included: Santino Chlada, Gavin Vahl, Sam Jaunich, Liam LeGrand, Scott Miklos, Corey Kurecki, Connor O’Reilly, John Masino, Matt Coleman, Brian McBride, Ryan Sullivan, Jack Johnson, Jonathan Snider, Jack Elliott, Nick McKibben, Holden Whitham, Sami Alrazzaq, Matt Villarreal, Mitchell Kieklak, Dominic Palumbo, Eloy Molina, Alan Fako, Dominic Citarella, Brady Pisarik, Jaden Weaver, Ryne Sternberg, Jack Fei, Michael Sczurek and Colin Ferguson.
 
“I’m very proud of our offensive line; coach O’reilly works very hard with them,” said co-head coach Tischer. “Connor O’Reilly is our leader on the line. He’s directing the other guys where to go, Mike Sczurek and Jack Johnson were really good today, but we also had great blacking for our backs too. I was really proud of that today. We set them up with the inside runs and pounded, pounded, pounded.”
 
Coach Tischer also went on to compliment the defensive effort. 
 
“Our defense is very aggressive. It’s not a defense you usually see at this age of youth football, and I think our aggressiveness made things very hard for Bourbonnais and they couldn’t figure out how to handle it.”
 
The Pioneers will be tested next week when they travel to Ottawa but look for the Lightweights to continue to do what they do best in their quest for a second victory.
Today's Schedule: Season Schedule