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Pioneers speedster Frank Edelen (34)  loses a Franklin Square defender and looks to cut back for more yardage

Lightweights capture 6th-straight win

19-0 victory sets up battle of unbeatens next week

 
Text by Ed Muniz
Photos by Renee Kaspar
 
TINLEY PARK -- Heading into week seven of the RVYFL season in the Lightweight division, three of the 20 teams were still unbeaten. Among that trio were the Orland Park Pioneers. On the season they had won all five games and gave up a measly 14 points.
 
The Pioneers strong suit could be their defense which has the ability to shut teams down completely. In four of their previous five wins, the Pioneers allowed zero points.
 
So yes, you could say this is a defensive team. On the other hand, this Pioneer team also has a knack for scoring points and showcases a strong running game that sniffs out the endzone with regularity.
 
Knowing next week they could end up having a battle of unbeatens when they take on the New Lenox Warriors at home, coaches Larry Tischer and Ken Stack were keeping the team's focus on getting the job done at hand.
 
Traveling to Tinley Park to face the 3-3-0 Frankfort Square Black Wildcats, the task at hand was to continue improving on both sides of the ball.
 
As the season has moved on, coaches Stack and Tischer have become more assertive vocally with high expectations on every play. These Pioneers aren’t perfect, but they are a cohesive bunch that works and executes to the best of their ability with an occasional misstep or error. Even with that said, the Pioneers players are having fun throughout the game and play with a confidence that they expect to come out on top.
 
That was the case in this game. Orland Park dominated once again and shut out the host Wildcats 19-0.
 
The opening kickoff showed a little of what was in store for the hosts when Frank Edelen returned the ball 64 yards. Unfortunately the play was called back on a penalty. Although the Pioneers punted a few plays later, that burst of speed shown by Edelen had the Frankfort Square sideline talking about what they had to face.
 
The defensive play of Jake Scumaci, John McAuliffe and Braden Tischer shut off the Wildcats offensive flow and forced a punt. The Pioneers took their next offensive opportunity and made the most of it.
 
It began with a 12-yard run by Tischer followed by another dozen-yard gain from Edelen as the first quarter came to an end. To open the second quarter, Edelen went for 10 yards, and the Pioneers offense was now rolling downhill.
 
Pioneers defender Conner Stack (12) snags a Wildcats runner with teammate Evan Benos (65) ready to back him up.
Switching positions, Tischer went to quarterback while Scumaci switched to running back. A penalty in the drive didn't hurt the Lightweights. The next play paid off big when Tischer lofted a short pass to Scumaci who didn’t stop until 73 yards later in the Wildcats endzone. It wasn’t all perfect for the Pioneers however. They missed the extra-point.
 
The 6-0 Pioneer lead would soon grow after defensive pastings by Connor Stack and Connor O’Reilly and an impressive one-handed sack by McAuliffe for a 9-yard loss. 
 
After getting the ball back, three-straight runs by Edelen went for 16, 6 and a touchdown-earning 24 yards. Unable to score the point-after, the Pioneers now led 12-0.
 
Once again Orland Park's defense did what it does so well. And that made it difficult for the host Wildcats to get much going. McAuliffe was now almost a force of his own, and when Evan Benos and O’Reilly chipped in with tackles, the Wildcats had to punt again.
 
With not much time left in the first half, the Pioneers used the pass to move upfield in hopes of scoring again. A Tischer-to-McAuliffe pass went for 16 yards, which was then followed by a Scumaci-to-Edelen toss for 9 yards. The Pioneers were able to squeeze out one more play, a Tischer-to-Scumaci pass for 6 yards, as time ran out.
 
When play began in the second half, it almost looked like the Pioneers couldn’t wait to get back on defense. The Wildcats second half series went nowhere quick with O’Reilly, McAuliffe and Anthony Shelton’s hot breath in their faces.
 
Punting back to the Pioneers, it wasn’t long before Frankfort Square would be back on offense having to face the Pioneers aggressive defense. A lull in the Pioneers running attack saw them give up the ball, but that seemed to be OK since they had controlled much of the play in the game up to then.
 
Shelton and Stack quickly forced another Wildcat punt, and Tischer brought that back 13 yards to set up the Pioneers again. 
 
For Anthony Shelton, following what his coaches have said has worked well for him.
 
“Coaches always say every time to get down and shoot low, and I just did that today and got a bunch of tackles," he said. “It was easy today getting through their gaps to make a tackle. We need to swarm to the ball and get better at that, but I think we did really good and only gave up one pass completion.”
 
Quarterback Jake Scumaci (30) waits for a block from Pioneers teammate John McAuliffe (7) during Orland Park's 19-0 win.
 
Two Edelen runs were then followed by a quarterback keeper that saw Tischer run right up the middle with the Wldcats’ defense leaving the entire area open. Tischer easily raced 44 yards untouched and scored the Pioneers last touchdown. Scumaci added the point-after for the 19-0 Pioneer lead.
 
“They had their linebackers up and piled up the middle, but the outside was wide open for us" Scumaci said. “Frankie (Edelen) does really well hitting the hole and running to open space, and I think I do well at making guys miss and creating space. It works really well. 
 
“If we can stop make stupid penalties and hold our blocks longer, we will be better. Still a pretty good game from all our linemen, they all do pretty good.”
 
The Wildcats did have two more opportunities in the game but again with a Pioneers defense, determined not to give up a point, gave them nothing. That left the Pioneers with their sixth-consecutive win and set up a big game of unbeatens next week with New Lenox.
 
For coach Tischer just getting through this game and moving on is plenty.
 
“We had a sloppy first quarter, lots of penalties, I think the most we’ve had all year. But we were still able to move the ball,” he said. ”I’m glad we were able to get it out of our system. If they can learn from it, then it’s well worth it. 
 
“We came in knowing we were going to try to run the middle. But they used four linebackers to clog it up and with our speed we realized we could get around the end so we did that. I’m very happy with how our running backs are blocking. Next week, it’s going be fun.”
 
Other Pioneers contributing to the win included: 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 them on from the sidelines 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.
 
Today's Schedule: Season Schedule