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Orland Park's Jack Fei (right) run past  two Frankfort Falcon Black defenders during the Pioneers 21-13 win.

 

Lightweights strong in Wednesday league win 

Lines play big role in 21-13 victory over Frankfort

 

By Ed Muniz
 
ORLAND PARK -- The Famed Wednesday Night League was back at it on Sept 14. Headlining the games scheduled were the Orland Park Pioneer Lightweight and Junior Varsity squads hosting a duo of teams from the Frankfort Falcons Black program.
 
The obvious overall success of the league has been overwhelmingly welcomed by players who might otherwise not see regular playing time during River Valley Youth Football League games. The benefits of the mid-week games are numerous, with the additional coaching during games a major part.
 
Players are not only receiving instruction during practices and Fifth Quarter scrimmages but also get added coaching in game situations of the Wednesday league.
 
In actuality, most of these players are getting more playing time then teammates playing on Saturdays and Sundays in RVYFL games.
 
The Lightweight Pioneers took the Sandburg field and kicked off, beginning the game on defense and looking every part of a winner early.
 
The defensive line of Dominic Citarella, Colin Ferguson, Ryne Sternberg, Jaden Weaver and John Masino made sure the Black Flacons knew what they were in store for all game. Tackling support came from Scott Miklos, Jack Fei and Jack Elliott. After their efforts, the Pioneers quickly forced a punt.
 
Once gaining the ball, the Pioneers offense didn’t take long to jump ahead. Behind the strong offensive line output of Colin Ferguson, Citarella, Sternberg, Weaver, Liam LeGrand and Mitchell Kieklak, the Pioneers running attack chewed up yards on every down of the five-play opening drive. 
 
Quarterback Jack Elliott, and running backs Masino, Dominic Palumbo and Ryan Sullivan, quickly led their team down to Falcons 33-yard line. From there Gray took the snap and started left. He saw clearing to the right and cut back to the right sideline and raced untouched 33 yards for the Pioneers first touchdown. John Masino added the point after for the 7-0 Pioneers lead.
 
The Falcons immediately responded with their next snap, going 70 yards for their first score. A failed point-after attempt left the score at 7-6.
 
The Pioneers went back on offense, and Jack Fei now took snaps under center. He proceeded to take the Pioneers down field after a 22-yard, zig-zag run. Time was nearing the end of the opening quarter when Sullivan showed his footwork and outraced everyone around the right end going 48 yards and extending the Pioneer lead.
 
The Pioneers took their defensive stances to open the second quarter. Thanks to the tackling of Sullivan and Masino, Frankfort lost yardage which included a Masino 8-yard sack of the Falcon quarterback.
 
Forcing a turnover on downs, the Pioneers went back on offense again looking to use up the remaining time of the first half. Masino, Gray and Palumbo used their running skills to gain 10, 20 and 16 yards, respectively. A 6-yard run by Elliot and the Pioneers worked the clock as they wanted and neared the goal-line again.
 
With just 47 seconds before halftime, Masino plowed around left end and powered his way five yards into the endzone for the third Pioneer touchdown. Elliott added the extra-point for the 21-6 halftime lead.
 
 
The forceful Pioneers defense eyes the Frankfort offense.
Contentedly ahead, the Pioneers didn’t seemed flustered by their only 3-and-out of the game at the start of  the second half. Shifting to defense, they displayed tackling talent from Brian McBride, LeGrand and Jonathan Snider. After Elliott recovered a Falcon fumble, the Pioneers were back at it offensively.
 
Beginning at their own 26, the Pioneers mixed up their playcalling when they introduced some pass plays into their arsenal. That success lasted until the Falcons 39-yard line. Calling a pitch-play, running back Mitchell Kieklak tried a pass that was cradled in by a Falcon defender to end the promising drive.
 
It didn’t take the Falcons long to tighten the game. Their second play after the interception went 71 yards for their second touchdown. With the extra-point, the Pioneers lead dwindled to 21-13.
 
Using as much of the clock as possible in the final quarter, the hosts used Sullivan, Kieklak and McBride to run the ball but were unable to sustain a drive. Saving the win would come down to a Pioneers defense that was reeling after giving up a long score.
 
With enough pressure up front and the ability to knock down balls, the Pioneers held on for the win.
 
Many Pioneers did all they could to secure the win, but John Masino's offensive skill-sets led the way.
 
“When I was running with the ball, I just felt like I would keep going, and they were easy to move going in for the touchdown,” said Masino. “I was hitting the holes good. I was going as fast as I could and hit the holes as best I could, (Jaden) Weaver and (Colin) Ferguson were really good at opening the holes on the line.”
 
The Pioneers offense disguises who has the ball.
A very satisfied Masino added that he really liked the Wednesday night games because it gave him a chance to really play and show his skills and also being more part of the team.
 
Defensively, Ryan Sullivan had a stellar game for the Pioneers, leading the team in tackles and having a knack to get to where the ball was. His quick commitment to the ballcarrier and ability to avoid a block made him look like he knew what play the Falcons called.
 
“The key thing I try to do is get angry and unleash my power against the offense,” said Sullivan. “I think I could have went in a little bit faster. As a team we could get more people into the backfield and then we could get the two ends to go in and make the tackle in the middle, pressure from the middle and the outside.”
 
When asked about the Wednesday League, the defensive specialist said, “I love it, it gives me a chance to get on the starters.”
 
Others Pioneers doing their part in the win were Santino Chlada, Gavin Vahl, Sam Jaunich, Braden Tischer, John McAuliffe, Conner Stack, Corey Kurecki, Connor O'Reilly, Matt Coleman, Anthony Shelton, Jake Scumaci, Frank Edelen, Nicolas McKibben, Holden Whittam, Sami Alrazzaq, Matt Villarreal, Evan Benos, Eloy Molina, Alan Fako, Brady Pisarik, Vince Villa and Mike Sczurek.
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