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Running back Jimmy Rolder gets facemasked but still manages to gain yards for the Pioneers offense.

Junior Varsity outlasts Frankfort

Pioneers remain undefeated with 13-6 win

 
By Kevin McGavin
 
ORLAND PARK -- There were some anxious moments for the Orland Park Junior Varsity in its Sunday afternoon River Valley Youth Football League game against visiting Frankfort.
 
Nursing a one-point in the second half, Orland Park was fortunate. A second critical holding call negated a Frankfort touchdown.
 
Like an equally pivotal moment in the opening half when a Frankfort first-and-goal was nullified, the Pioneers’ defense then turned the ball back over to its offense when Joseph Shelton stuffed a Frankfort running back for a fourth down one-yard loss.
 
Jimmy Rolder then gave the Pioneers’ JV team some invaluable insurance.
 
Capping a 76-yard drive in nine plays, Rolder, who also contributed a monster defensive game from his linebacker position, carried three-straight times for 23 yards.
 
The third touch produced an eight-yard touchdown as the Pioneers remained undefeated on the season with a 13-6 victory at Sandburg High School.
 
“The defense played a great ballgame,” Orland Park coach Mark Mikesell said.
 
With Orland Park (3-0-0) leading 7-6 late in the third quarter, Frankfort's Trey Johnson, who led all ballcarriers with 70-yards rushing, had his apparent 22-yard touchdown negated by a holding call.
 
The Falcons' offense never got in the red zone again.
 
The Shelton fourth-down tackle of Johnson came one play after Rolder recorded a tackle three yards behind the line of scrimmage.
 
Then the Pioneers moved 76 yards to add some breathing room.
 
Rolder had 42 of his team-high 56 yards rushing on the nine-play drive.
 
The bruising halfback had two double-digit gains on the fourth quarter drive that ended with him plowing around left end for the eight-yard touchdown run.
 
The one-point conversion failed, but Orland Park had a 13-7 cushion with six minutes and 13 seconds to play.
 
“I was just looking for a hole,” Rolder said. “When I saw it, I just took it as hard as I could. (The Frankfort) linebackers are amazing. I was glad to score there.”
 
One of the central storylines for the Orland Park offense was the collaboration between quarterback Tommy McAuliffe and tight end Julian Loeza.
 
The critical play on the Pioneers’ second half touchdown drive was the 25-yard pass Loeza hauled in in heavy traffic.
 
Of the six completions and 91 yards through the air McAulifee authored, Loeza caught all but one and accumulated 76 yards.
 
“Julian just gets open, and he has the hands of Alshon Jeffrey,” McAuliffe said. “That’s our no. 1 play that we go to.”
 
“They work really hard in practice,” Mikesell said of McAuliffe and Loeza. “They have that connection. (Loeza) is a great receiver.”
 
“I just run my route, give my quarterback time, and he will get it to me,” Loeza said. “I just put my hands up and get (the ball).”
 
Frankfort had only one possession after the Rolder touchdown.
 
But Jacob Maziarka, one of five linebackers in the Pioneers’ 3-5-3 defensive alignment, recorded Orland Park's fourth, fourth down stop of the contest at the Pioneers’ 30-yard line.
 
Taking possession with three-plus minutes remaining, Orland Park found itself with third-and-nine situation.
 
But Loeza completed the last of his five connections with McAuliffe for a 10-yard gain.
 
On what proved to be the final play from scrimmage, McAuliffe scrambled 20 yards — the longest rush of the evening for Orland Park — to ice the game.
 
McAuliffe had 21- and 15-yard completions to Loeza and Kyle Peterson in a three-play span on the Pioneers’ opening drive of the game.
 
But Frankfort forced a turnover on second-and-goal.
 
Michael Ulleweit (42), Jackson Schramm (32) and Jacob Maziarka (36) swarm to contain a runaway Falcon.
Pinned deep in its own end, the Frankfort coach took a big gamble with a fake punt on fourth down from his own 6-yard line.
 
The subsequent pass fell harmlessly incomplete.
 
“I was pretty shocked by that (call),” Mikesell admitted. “It worked out for us. We were able to punch it in after that, so it was pretty much a gift.”
 
McAuliffe did the honors himself, scoring from a yard out and scrambling for a one-point conversion to give Orland Park a 7-0 first-quarter lead.
 
“The (conversion) pass wasn’t open, so I just ran it in,” McAuliffe said.
 
Frankfort mounted a long time-consuming drive on the ensuing possession.
 
But once again the Pioneer defense in general, and its linebacker corps in particular, made a huge play.
 
Jack Harty sacked the Frankfort quarterback for a seven-yard loss as the Falcons faced a fourth-and-seven from the Pioneers’ 18-yard line.
 
“I lined up in a five-technique,” Harty said. “Our main job (at linebacker is) to keep our gaps closed. The most satisfying (aspect to our defensive play) was them not getting very many yards.”
 
Orland Park limited Frankfort to 120 yards of total offense.
 
The Falcons’ only points came two plays after a blocked punt gave Frankfort first-and-goal at the Pioneers’ 5-yard line late in the first half.
 
“We had a breakdown in the middle,” Mikesell said of the special teams miscue.
 
In the 25-minute “fifth quarter,” the Pioneers second and third units struggled to move the ball during their offensive reps.
 
But Nick D’Antonio had the unmistakable play of the exhibition period for Orland Park.
 
Exploiting a huge hole on the right side, D’Antonio scampered 50 yards on a sweep for the Pioneers’ lone score.
 
“I pretty much went through the hole and saw there was nothing to the left,” D’Antonio said. “I cut to the right, found open space and scored.”
 
The following boys contributed to the Pioneers’ Junior Varsity team: Christian Evans, Martinas Petruska, Ryan Welch, Andrew Dado, Nergui Munkbat, John Thompson, Troy Faille, Scott Rybak, Lukas Pukstys, Max Montgomery, Tommy Durkin, Sean Halloran, Conor McCormick, Charlie Soltys, Jake Stefanos, Jacob Masino, Jackson Schramm, Nicholas Edelen, Jimmy Lalezas, John Mazenko, Joseph Calacci, Michael Ulleweit, Ryan McPolin, Brian Devlin, Drew Saunders, Frank D’Antonio, Abdel Ghouleh, Tommy Stotts, Thomas Starcevich, Gavin Kissane, Nicholas Presbitero, Connor Beach, Jackson Beach, Kenneth Gillette, Tyler Biszewski, Mike Rafazti, Zakery Bowden, Angelo Citarella and Max Urbas.
 
Members of the Junior Varsity sixth- and seventh-grade Pioneer cheer squad perform at halftime.
Cheering on the victors were: Alivia Achterhof, Brittany Booker, Madeline Casey, Kayla Conrad, Brooklyn Cooper, Jazmine Estrada, Carleigh Fountain, Paige Gasparas, Ella Gillund, Maria Gonsch, Erin Haw, Emma Herout, Audrey Hickman, Amber Hoak, Brianna Iraci, Samantha Jeffries, Giselle Jreisat, Chloe LaVelle, Jocelyn LaVelle, Ella McDonald, Grace McReynolds, Ariana Morris, Megan Murphy, McKayla Onderwater, Gianna Patterson, Sydney Pisarik, Dana Rafati, Angelina Salaita, Claudia Sawik, Kara Stevens, Nicole Tatar, Yoanni Trevino and Lija Vigants.
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