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Pioneers quarterback Luke Detampel takes a look back as he outruns his Bulldog pursuers to the endzone.
 

Super Lightweights make
coach's prediction come true 

Pioneers end 3-game losing streak with 20-13 win

 
 
Text by Ed Muniz
Photos by Renee Kaspar
 
 
TINLEY PARK -- Last week after losing their third-straight game, Super Lightweight Pioneers head coach Todd Shelton was confident that the ship would be righted in their last remaining regular season game and guaranteed a victory in their next game.
 
“We will be .500” were his words.
 
The finale of the River Valley Youth Football League regular season saw the Pioneers take on the Tinley Park Bulldogs in their Homecoming event last Saturday.
 
Coming in, the Pioneers had struggled for three-straight weeks, unable to get their once highly touted running game in sync like it was during their earlier win streak. 
 
For whatever reason this team nearly completely shut down.
 
Confident that he and his staff had corrected the issues that plagued the team, Shelton put his Pioneers on the field with one goal -- to win.
 
It wasn’t easy but the Pioneers made their coach's prediction hold true with a 20-13 win that truly wasn’t as close as the score. With the win the Pioneers improved to the .500 mark with a 4-4-0 record.
 
The Pioneers were really ready for this game in every facet. The running attack that had been silent the previous three weeks roared loudly as they chopped up yard after yard throughout the game. If not for three very questionable penalties, the Pioneers could have easily won by four scores, but three touchdown runs were called back.
 
Wanting to assert themselves early in the game, the Pioneers defense was up to the task and proved it after Nick McGriff came up with a Bulldog fumble after Jeff Bellik and Luke Basiorka each grabbed tackles.
 
The Pioneers didn’t hit their gear initially having to turn over the ball after four plays and actually were struggling to control their hosts' second offensive series. Tinley Park controlled the ball the rest of the opening quarter and into the second to jump ahead 6-0.
 
Toddy Shelton, Bellik, Basiorka, Beck Stukel and Terrell Patterson all did their best to stop the Bulldogs march but couldn't stop the score.
 
Luke Basiorka (30) uses a block by teammate Terrell Patterson (28) to gain big yards.
Things looked like they were going to get worse for the Pioneers when they fumbled back to Tinley Park on their first play after the kickoff.
 
The Pioneers defense needed to step up especially after the Bulldogs completed a 22-yard pass. Sitting at the Pioneers 14-yard line, two big plays by Chase Czerwonka (quarterback sack) and Luke Detampel (open-field tackle) stopped the Bulldogs drive and gave the Pioneers offense one last chance before halftime.
 
Given several running chances, Basiorka made the most of them and added more yards to his game tally while also flipping the Pioneers field from their own 25 to the hosts' 24 after streaking 31 yards. Detampel took over from there and a couple plays later scored from 14 yards to end the half in a 6-6 tie.
 
The first half was assuredly a frustrating one for not only the Pioneers coaches and players but also the parents after watching three long touchdown runs be called back on penalties away from or behind the play.
 
The third quarter was full of action with each team finding the endzone fast. The Pioneers took just four plays after they took the second half kickoff and pulled a reverse that caught the Bulldogs by surprise. Basiorka was off to the races and ran along the far sideline for the 30-yard go-ahead touchdown. Detampel added the point-after and the Pioneers now led 13-6.
 
After all the breaks went against them in the first half, the Pioneers now saw that change, at least for one play. Basiorka came up with a Bulldogs fumble on the first play of their drive. While they were still celebrating their defensive takeaway, the Pioneers gave it right back to the Bulldogs after a mishandled exchange.
 
Tinley Park immediately took advantage of its good fortune and evened up the game when their running back ran 43 yards for a touchdown.
 
Tied at 13-13, the Pioneers took over after the kickoff from the Tinley Park 40-yard line. After Detampel busted for five yards, Jeff Bellik took the handoff and got around his right-end and streaked into the endzone for the Pioneer 20-13 lead after the extra-point conversion. 
 
Pioneers kicker Terrell Patterson uses his super toe to get the game started against Tinley Park.
Even though they dominated much of the play, the Pioneers couldn’t avoid their own mistakes and kept the Bulldogs in the game. Another lost fumble kept the visitors defense on the field. But now that they were back ahead on the scoreboard, the Pioneers seemed to relish the challenge of holding the lead.
 
Michael Pursel, Shelton, Joey Epley, McGriff, Detampel, Bellik and Stukel all came up with tackles in the final quarter to help secure the long-awaited fourth win of the season.
 
On both sides of the ball there were several Pioneers who needed to play well and did. Defensively, Beck Stukel was one player who was committed to giving his all and it showed throughout the game.
 
“I was containing, cutting in and getting the tackle,” said the defensive star. Although not much in physical size, Stukel was a persistent nuisance to the Bulldogs offense. 
 
“I was keeping them from running outside. I would blitz and make the tackle in the backfield. I could have blocked the pass, but I didn’t. I need to get better at that.”
 
Offensively, no one had a better game than Luke Basiorka. He constantly found the holes and made the right cuts for added yards. He played with a determined-to-succeed attitude and when needed powered his way or juked a Bulldogs defender to put his team in better position.
 
When asked what he thought he did really well, the confident running back didn’t mince words: “Tackling, running the ball and getting a touchdown. I was able to find holes, and it made running the ball easy. On defense I was locating the ball, I was hitting, and I was tackling, but I had some help too. (Luke) Detampel and (Terrell)
Patterson played pretty good on offense, and Joey Epley on defense really helped.”
 
Finally grabbing that elusive fourth win and heading into the playoffs on the upswing, coach Shelton felt pretty good about his chances. Talking to his team after their win, Shelton said: “Look what we did this week! The refs can do whatever they want. We had five touchdowns this week. Offense, great job! Defense, we worked. I don’t care what that score says, we worked hard all game -- second half tremendously better. Welcome to the playoffs; welcome to the playoffs.”
 
Other Pioneers making their presence felt in the win were: Caden Nestor, Kaden Kramer, Colm Coyle, Jack Enright, Devin Stefanos, Anthony Molina, Mason Vahl, Jake Buechele, Jake Drew, Nick Slechta, Anthony Kazaitis, Braden Czerniuk, Aiden Evans, Jordan Masino, Aiden Patterson, Quinn Durkin, Brandon Dion, Thomas Elliott, Lukas Boyce and James McCormick.
 
Cheering on the Super Lightweights 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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