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The Pioneers' Jake Shelton (34) holds on tight to a Frankfort ballcarrier while Luke Detampel  (24) veers over to assist in the stoppage.

Super Lightweights take charge in win

Post 20-7 victory over Frankfort

Test and photos by Ed Muniz
 
ORLAND PARK -- Week four of the River Valley Youth Football League saw the Frankfort Falcons Super Lightweights visit the Orland Park Pioneers at Sandburg High School on Sunday. Both teams looked to add win number two on the season.
 
The Pioneers came off a bye week and were visibly ready to get back on the field. Their opponents hoped to stop a losing streak. Streaks continued for each team, the Pioneers (2-1-0) earned their second-consecutive win, while the Falcons (1-3-0) suffered their third loss of the season and were left looking for the scoring punch they displayed in their opening-game win.
 
Both teams were made up of players under the age of nine with a majority of them being 7-8-year-olds. A small mixture of six-year-olds also participate.
 
At this level the instruction of on-field coaching is vital. But for some teams, chemistry is the key to getting any kind of game play to be productive. Both teams surprisingly showed the ability to make this an interesting game to watch, but the Pioneers managed to work cohesively slightly better than the Falcons in their 20-7 victory.
 
The Pioneers were first to take advantage of an error. On the second play of the game, Orland Park's Luke Basiorka snagged an errant Falcon pass for an interception. Looking to get his offense started, Pioneer quarterback Luke Detampel mixed in some running plays and a pass attempt. Both Jeff Bellik and Terrell Patterson tried to get some rushing in against a stout Falcon defense. When that didn’t work Detampel went to the air but couldn’t connect, ending the opening drive.
 
Detampel and Toddy Shelton stuffed the next two Falcon attempts, and Nick McGriff came up with a Falcon fumble on the third offensive play. The Pioneers went back to their offense, and two plays later the first quarter came to a end tied at 0-0.
 
Opening the second quarter, the Pioneers completed their 13-play drive that ended with Detampel finding the endzone on his 9-yard scamper to give the Pioneers the first score of the game. The drive was highlighted by the rushing of Detampel, which included a 23-yard carry, ball-control running by Patterson, Basiorka and Bellik.
 
After scoring with 2:14 left in the first half, the Pioneers defense made quick work of Frankfort's next series and put the Orland Park offense back on the field. Without hesitation, Detampel found space and streaked 31 yards to the endzone with just 24 seconds left in the half. After Bellik added the extra-point, the Pioneers took a 13-0 lead into halftime.
 
Jeff Bellik (36) starts his rumble that ends 39 yards later in the endzone
Things went from bad to worse for the visiting Falcons when they fumbled during their opening, second half drive and lost the ball to the Pioneers. 
 
With the Pioneers back on offense, the run of the game was turned in by Jeff Bellik. During his 39-yard touchdown run, he nearly went down several times but kept his balance and bounced off several would-be tacklers. He finally plowed his way free after every Falcon defender had a shot at him. His refusal to go down was mesmerizing as hit after hit came his way but nothing kept him from scoring.
 
“I just ran. I was thinking of trucking people, and I was able to find the holes easy,” said Bellik. “I could run faster, but we’ll see. I think coach thinks we can block better, but I don’t know.”
 
Terrell Patterson's extra point gave the Pioneers a comfortable 20-0 lead.
 
Frankfort scored minutes before the end of the third quarter as the Pioneers seemed to think the game was in hand. But that soon changed when the Falcons recovered an onside-kick and went on the march.
 
Defensively Orland Park started to surrender yard after yard to the visitors. Tackles by Basiorka, Bellik, Will Slechta and even a sack by Detampel didn’t halt the Falcons offensive push as they desperately tried to get into the endzone.
 
With the game winding down, the Falcons drove inside the Pioneers 5-yard line. But when Orland Park needed a stop, the Pioneers defense became an impenetrable wall. Led by Michael Pursel, Detampel, Nick McGriff and Basiarka, the Pioneers stuffed the Falcons in four-straight attempts and sealed the 20-7 win.
 
“The kids were up to the task. We got to make sure all these kids play,” said head coach Todd Shelton. “It was a total team effort. They are doing everything we ask them to do. They were going on two and on set. Pursel, (Will) Slechta, Toddy Shelton, Chase Czerwonka, all these guys are getting off the ball. They're doing a tremendous job.”
 
Coach Shelton went on to praise his power back Jeff Bellik: “Definitely the best run I’ve seen all year, never ever gave up and that’s what you get out of Jeffrey Bellik. He’s just a hard-running kid.
 
As good as the game went for the Pioneers, there was room for improvement. Coach Shelton went on to mention he wants his defensive line to be in the backfield more often and his offensive back field to help out with the blocking. 
 
“We can do better on both sides of the line,” he said. “Our backers need to help out better with blocking at the line but overall, overall a great job. On defense our corners (Beck) Stukel, Patterson, (Victor) Villa and (Jake) Tomczak all did a great job.”
 
Others contributing to the win were: Caden Nestor, Kaden Kramer, Colm Coyle, Jack Enright, Devin Stefanos, Keegan Kirk, Anthony Molina, Mason Vahl, Jake Buechele, Jake Drew, Nick Slechta, Anthony Kazaitis, Joey Epley, Braden Czerniuk, Aiden Evans, Jordan Masino, Aiden Patterson, Quinn Durkin, Brandon Dion, Thomas Elliott, Lukas Boyce and James McCormick.
 
The second- and third-grade Pioneers cheerleaders take a break to watch the opposing squad at halftime. 
Cheering on the Super Lightweights and keeping the fans entertained and into the game were: Vanessa Annel, Ava Bernardi, Ava Brennen, Sydney Czerniak, Sophia Dornbos, Ashley Fahey, Ella Groark, Mia Hilbruger, Keira Kehlert, Alexandra Keysboe, Emma Kusper, Lily Masino, Ryligh Maugeri, Cassidy McKibben, Kaelyn Morales, Addy Moran, Natalie Oprondek, Kaelyn Ponce, Makenzie Prah, Emily Sayger, Natalie Schmidt, Brianna Sievers, Aileen Tunney and Heidi Wagner.
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