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Pioneers running back Frank Edelen (34) uses his speed and power to get through a mob of Frankfort defenders.
 

Lightweights dig in for late 6-0 win

Defense shines to keep perfect mark

 
Text and photos by Ed Muniz
 
ORLAND PARK -- Tenacious; cohesive; composed; tough; stubborn.
 
These words perfectly fit the Orland Park Pioneers Lightweight team and the traits they repeatedly displayed for all to see on September 4 when the schedule called for a visit from a formidable foe named the Frankfort Falcons.
 
Both teams came in unbeaten and for some on both sidelines, there was a little more to this game then just remaining unbeaten. 
 
Pioneer co-head coach Larry Tischer lives in Frankfort and was previously on the Falcons coaching staff. Joining the Pioneers program was a choice he made for the development of his son in the sport. He felt the Orland Park program met what he was looking for. Needless to say, both teams wanted to hold the upper hand when it was all said and done.
 
With a defense that was unyielding, the Pioneers (3-0-0) treated the visiting Falcons (3-1-0) to their first loss of the season with the 6-0 decision.
 
“Our defense was incredible all game, they just shut them down and didn’t give up much at all,” said an elated Tischer. “I was very proud of our offensive line, they were outstanding all game. Connor O’Reilly, Nicolas McKibben, Holden Whittam, Brady Pisarik, Michael Sczurek and Evan Benos were just great. Nathan Gray also did everything we asked him to do. He had a super game and has really surprised many of us how well he is playing, huge plus for us.”
 
As happens many times with two unbeaten teams, the result is either a high-scoring game or one with limited opportunities. This game featured strong defenses that limited offensive success stories.
 
Along the way, the offenses for each team helped out their opponents with turnovers and miscues. The Pioneers started that trend after forcing the Falcons to punt after three plays. But the hosts quickly gave the ball back when a handoff between quarterback Jake Scumaci and running back Braden Tischer was mishandled and recovered by Frankfort.
 
Now without much rest, the task was up to the defense to once again stop any Falcon progress. Doing what they could, Pioneer after Pioneer made tackle after tackle. Braden Tischer did his part with four of the next eight tackles. Scumaci, Frank Edelen, Benos and Matt Coleman added to the tackling display.
 
After getting the ball back, the Pioneers found that their ground game unable to do much against a persistent Frankfort defense. Edelen and Tischer picked their way through holes created by solid front-line blocking, but the gaps disappeared as the Falcons defenders closed in quickly.
 
The first half came to an end with neither team able to gain any advantage. Attempts both via the ground or air were snuffed out every time. The game had become a waiting game to see who would make the first big mistake.
 
 
The Pioneers defense (left) prepares to stop another Frankfort play.
 
When the third quarter began, the Pioneers began to establish their running game. Edelen, John McAuliffe, Tischer and Scumaci advanced the ball and controlled nearly the whole third quarter, but the drive stalled when they neared the Falcons red-zone.
 
Into the final quarter, the Pioneers defense hit and tackled even harder -- it was almost like they refreshed their batteries to make things happen. It did just that when McAuliffe came up with a Falcons fumble with 6:42 left. Edelen and Connor Stack were key during that series and assisted on the loose ball.
 
Looking to capitalize on their good fortunes, the Pioneers began the drive at the Falcon 39-yard line and proceeded towards the endzone behind their offensive line. With a little added step, the Pioneers frontline made sure they provided the holes their backs needed. Benos, McKibben, O’Reilly, Whittam, Pisarik and Sczurek now had the Falcons defense backing up.
 
Taking their time and making sure to play error-free football, the Pioneers slowly used up the clock behind the speed running of Edelen and the slashing and elusive running style of Tischer to get to the Falcons 12-yard line with just slightly over a minute left in the game.
 
Calling a pass play with an option to run, Scumaci scrambled to the right side of the field and looked for McAuliffe but then yelled “bingo, bingo” which meant he was running and alerted his backs and blockers ahead of him to clear a path. He raced untouched to the nearest pylon for the winning touchdown.
 
No one seemed more elated than co-head coach Tischer who jumped up and down on the field like he just scored the winning touchdown of the Super Bowl. 
 
For Scumaci, it was routine.
 
“I was glad to score, but it wasn’t a big deal,” said Scumaci. “But I wouldn’t have scored if Brady (Pisarik) didn’t block that guy. He got him out, and then I got out.”
 
Scumaci went on to add that he was doing what his coach told him.
 
“It was supposed to be a pass, but coach says if there’s an opening say "bingo," so all I thought was 'don’t get tackled.' So I didn’t.”
 
He added that his lineman were amazing, but the team needs to score more.
 
Other Pioneers contributors to the win were: Santino Chlada, Gavin Vahl, Sam Jaunich, Liam Legrand, Scott Miklos, Corey Kurecki, John Masino, Matt Coleman, Brain McBride, Ryan Sullivan, Jonathan Snider, Jack Elliott, Sami Alrazzaq, Matt Villarreal, Mitch Kieklak, Dominic Palumbo, Eloy Molina, Alan Fako, Dominic Citarella, Vince Villa, Jaden Weaver, Ryne Sterbergen and Colin Ferguson.
 
 
Cheering on the winning side were the fourth- and fifth-grade Pioneer cheerleaders: Nicolette Allen, Nicole Bonfitto, Allyson and Kate Burke, Annabella Cannici, Emma Collias, Aubree Conroy, Ciara Coyle, Lexi Eurkaitis, Natalie Felthouse, Gianna Frech, Grace Gardner, Nadia Ghouleh, Gianna Hernandez, Bianca Kios, Angelina Lamantia, Alexandra Laska, Sarah Martino, Samantha Masino, Abby McCasland, Mckenna Patton, Emily Ramirez, Reese Rodriguez, Giana Shepley, Olivia Skrocki, Sieira Sporleder, Gianna Staudt and Allison Welch.
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