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Lightweights look sharp in playoff opener

Edelen's 2 touchdowns lead way in 18-0 win

 
By Patrick Z. McGavin
 
TINLEY PARK -- The first adage in football holds how difficult it is to beat the same team twice in a season.
 
Frankie Edelen has the talent to make his own rules. He has the flair and style indicative of all naturally skilled runners. He has the speed to get to the outside and the natural impulse of how to cut back against the grain as the defenders go wide to try and contain him.
 
The dynamic, young running back continued his impressive play by rushing for two touchdowns and gaining 86 yards on 11 carries as the Pioneers Lightweights put together a dominant all-around performance in an 18-0 victory over the 14th-seeded Frankfort Square Wildcats in a first round River Valley Youth Football League playoff game Sunday at Andrew High School.
 
The third-seeded Pioneers (8-1-0) posted their sixth shutout this season. The team previously defeated the Wildcats 19-0 on September 25th. The team advances to meet the sixth-seeded Frankfort Falcons Black on Sunday, October 23, at Morris High School.
 
With Edelen setting the tone, the Pioneers scored on their first two possessions for a 12-0 halftime lead. Edelen loves the freedom and excitement of having the ball in his hands.
 
“For me, probably the funnest part is being able to run all over the field,” he said.
 
The Lightweights’ quick and disruptive defensive play rarely allowed the Wildcats any time or space to get into an offensive rhythm. The Pioneers limited Frankfort Square to just 30 yards of total offense. The Pioneers had 13 plays that resulted in negative yardage for the Wildcats. Four different players recorded at least one sack, led by two apiece by John McAuliffe and Conner Stack.
 
Offensively Edelen is the team’s catalyst. He has five touchdowns in the Pioneers’ last two two games. He balances excellent quickness with vision, speed and the patience to allow holes to open.
 
Edelen showcased his talent right at the start. After the Pioneers forced the Wildcats into a three-and-out on the opening possession of the game, Edelen broke outside for a 23-yard burst on the Pioneers’ second play from scrimmage. His speed is the ultimate weapon that teams must account for. His ability to reach the edge makes him dangerous from anywhere on the field.
 
Taking a pitch toward the left edge, Edelen made a quick move but then quickly darted against the grain and broke free into the Wildcats’ secondary for a 19-yard touchdown run with 8:06 to play in the first quarter. His run capped a five play, 52-yard drive.
 
“Mostly I was able to do that because the blocking was so good, and I saw a lot of their kids get pushed to the ground,” Edelen said.
 
He was also just getting started.
 
A 23-yard punt return by Tischer gave the Pioneers superb field position at the Wildcats’ 36-yard line. The team needed just nine plays to cover the distance. Edelen was again the workhorse in carrying the ball five times for 35 yards. His 15-yard burst around the left side secured a key third down conversion after the Pioneers faced third-and-long following an illegal block penalty.
 
Jake Scumaci alternated playing quarterback with the all-purpose player Tischer. He completed two passes for 27 yards that helped balance the running of Edelen and Tischer.
 
“Those early touchdowns gave us confidence and we used that to our advantage,” Tischer said. “We wanted to set the tone early and keep fighting along the way.”
 
Frankfort square took a calculated gamble of not allowing any big plays in the Pioneers’ passing game. 
 
“Every time we threw a pass there was a guy in,” Pioneers coach Ken Stack said. “What they decided was they were going to run a linebacker on our passing plays. They made the decision they were not going to stop us on the pitches. We were able to mix it up, with the pitches and the passing.”
 
McAuliffe demonstrated his range on both sides of the ball in the second half. On the opening possession of the third quarter, he took a pitch and burst around the right edge. He saw only daylight.
 
“I got the ball, and I thought I was going to get tackled by the end, and Frankie blocked him and then I ran as fast as I could down the sideline,” McAuliffe said. He posted the longest play of the day from scrimmage with the 56-yard touchdown run.
 
He put down the hammer. Edelen was the glove who set everything up. 
 
“We had great blocking the whole game and that opened it up for us,” McAuliffe said. His touchdown run showed off his versatility. His physical and dominant play on defense made sure the Wildcats never threatened. 
 
Aside from a positive 21-yard passing play in the second quarter, Frankfort Square was smothered at every angle. 
 
“Their linemen were charging at us, and we took a step and went the other way,” McAuliffe said. “Then we went and made the tackle.”
 
The Pioneers finished with 217 yards rushing on 24 attempts. McAuliffe had 60 yards on two carries. Tischer added 41 yards on 10 tough carries. Scumaci also had a big run play of 30 yards.
 
“We did well,” Ken Stork said. “There are some things we can improve on. As we move deeper into the playoffs we are going to have to move the ball with our passing game. We are very fortunate. We have some talented athletes.” 
 
Every player in the program had a role in the victory. The contributors were: Sam Jaunich, Nathan Gray, Brian McBride, Jaden Weaver, Jack Elliott, Santino Chlada, Gavin Vahl, Sam Jaunich, Liam Legrand, Scott Miklos, Corey Kurecki, John Masino, Matt Coleman, Ryan Sullivan, Jonathan Snider, Jack Elliott, Sami Alrazzaq, Matt Villarreal, Mitch Kieklak, Dominic Palumbo, Eloy Molina, Alan Fako, Dominic Citarella, Vince Villa, Ryne Sterbergen and Colin Ferguson.
 
The Pioneers cheerleaders who brought passion and energy from the sideline were: 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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