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Julian Loeza blasts past his Tinley Park adversary during his 56-yard punt return touchdown.

JV rolls over Tinley Park

Offense perfect in 1st half en route to 32-0 win

 
Text by Ed Muniz
Photos by Renee Kaspar
 
 
TINLEY PARK -- A week before the River Valley Youth Football League playoffs begin is the perfect time to look ahead and end up overlooking your opponent that week. For the Orland Park Junior Varsity Pioneers, a letdown was just not part of their agenda.
 
Having secured the third seed overall, it would have been easy for this talented team to let this game become a game of “going through the motions.” But remember, this is a talent-laden team.
 
Hosting the Pioneers (7-1-0) in the season finale, the Tinley Park Bulldogs Blue (4-4-0) knew they’d have to have play almost perfectly just to stay in the game with their guests. They didn’t. The Pioneers were ahead early and never looked back in a 32-0 win.
 
Right from the get-go, Tinley Park was in way over its head when the Pioneers Julian Loeza returned the opening kickoff 38 yards.
 
The rushing of Jake Maziarka and Jimmy Rolder chewed up yards on the Pioneers opening drive and it took just five plays for Rolder to score from 10 yards. With the connection of Tom McAuliffe to Maziarka for the point-after, the Pioneers led 7-0.
 
After a Gage Fauber interception shortly thereafter, the Pioneers used a long pass play to quickly get down the field. McAuliffe connected with Maziarka for 42 yards, setting up the Pioneers second touchdown. Maziarka pounded his way into the endzone two plays later for the touchdown. McAuliffe went solo and added the extra-point for a 14-0 lead just 5 minutes in.
 
Comfortably ahead, the Pioneer defense hadn’t really gotten their feet wet yet. They were eager to show their abilities defensively. With Rolder and Zakery Bowden leading the tackling, the Bulldogs were forced to punt which resulted in another Pioneers score.
 
Again Loeza made his presence felt when he took the Bulldogs kick and cut left to the Pioneers sideline and never looked back until he landed in the endzone 56 yards later. The failed extra-point try left the score at 20-0 as the first quarter ended.
 
Beginning with the second quarter, the Pioneers made changes on both sides of the ball to give some players an opportunity to play more than just the fifth quarter scrimmage. Some took advantage of the playing time to showcase their abilities.
 
Defensive tackle Ryan McPolin made the most of his chance gathering several tackles.
 
“I was just lowering my level, and when I get past the guy on me, I look for the ball to make the tackle,” said the Pioneer of very few words.
 
When asked about why his play became more aggressive as the game went on, McPolin said: “I got yelled at, because I wasn’t in the right gap. But coach Stefanos does it for a reason. I can do better by going in the right gap all the time and making more tackles.”
 
Defensive specialist Ryan McPolin (44) lunges at the Bulldog quarterback as he is about to release the football downfield.
 
McPolin and Rolder forced another Tinley Park punt to give the ball back to the offense. It took exactly one play to kick-up the scoreboard tally to 26-0 when McAuliffe found Loeza for a 30-yard touchdown.
 
“We know we want to get ahead fast to break down their confidence, and we did that today,” said McAuliffe. “This year our offense is more difficult because it is so different. I like being a team leader getting the plays off, and it;s fun being the big guy guiding the offense. But I really like tackling guys too.”
 
Going the rest of the way with mostly the second and third units, the Pioneers kept their team play at a high level. Each unit and player were determined to maintain the momentum the starters began.
 
With the offense now under the guidance of backup quarterbacks Jake Stefanos and Christian Evans, the Pioneers didn’t let up but found the scoring a bit more difficult. That came in part because the Bulldogs play became more focused and aggressive in front of their Homecoming crowd.
 
Maziarka and Rolder still dominated the defensive play heading into halftime.
 
The Pioneers add to their scoreboard total on their first possession of the second half. Using the running of Nick D’Antonio, Andrew Dado and Max Montgomery, the Pioneers moved the ball well. Add a Stefanos-to-Montgomery connection and you got the fifth touchdown of the game.
 
Montgomery took the pass in the left flat and wiggled his way 43 yards down the Pioneers sideline into the endzone. About the only thing the Pioneers didn’t do well on this day was scoring extra-points -- they missed three-of-five chances.
 
Settling in defensively, the Pioneers saw tackles and stops from McPolin, Jack Schramm, Nicholas Edelen, D’Antonio, Maziarka, Jimmy Lalezas and Lukas Pukstys among others. Each Pioneer was determined not to give up a point and keep the shutout. 
 
Offensively the Pioneers alternated Stefanos and Evans at quarterback. Stefanos completed a 21-yard pass to Scott Rybak, before Evans found Rybak for 13 yards. Dado, Montgomey, D’Antonio, Lelazas and John Mazenko were the legs of the running attack the remainder of the game.
 
A stiff defensive front and a aggressive offense was simply too much for the hosts to handle and the Pioneers completed their regular season with a dominating effort heading into next week playoffs.
 
 
 
The quarterback-center combo of Tommy McAuliffe (11) and Tom Starcevich showcase their skills during the Pioneers 32-0 shutout over the Tinley Park Bulldogs.
 
“We challenged the boys offensively. We had won a couple games since Homecoming but hadn’t played and put a full four quarters together. So I challenged them to score every single time before the half and that’s what we did,” said head coach Mark Miksell. “I was pleased with the offensive effort. On defense, we had a couple breakdowns and had a couple guys out of position. From day one we told the kids our goal is to win a championship, so really the second season starts now.”
 
Mikesell also saw plenty of positives from the game including the play of: Martinas Petruska, Ryan Welch, Nergui Munkbat, John Thompson, Troy Faille, Tommy Durkin, Sean Halloran, Conor McCormick, Charlie Soltys, Jacob Masino, Joseph Calacci, Brian Devlin, Drew Saunders, Frank D’Antonio, Abdel Ghouleh, Tommy Stotts, Gavin Kissane, Nicholas Presbitero, Connor Beach, Jackson Beach, Kenneth Gillette, Tyler Biszewski, Mike Rafazti, Angelo Citarella and Max Urbas.
 
The Pioneers sixth- and seventh-grade cheerleaders 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 cheered the Pioneers on to victory.
 
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