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Photos by Ken and Diana Dado
Frank Edelen, right, races in for one of his four touchdowns during the Pioneer Widget Americans Homecoming win against Tinley Park on Sept. 13 in Orland Park.

Orland Park festivities:
food, fun and fine football

Pioneers’ Widget back runs like
Red Grange in win over Tinley Park

By Ed Muniz

ORLAND PARK -- While the Orland Park Pioneers showcased their homecoming festivities, which included food, music, an inflatable jumping pit and slide, a face-painting station, a Chicago Bears van and tents and tailgating throughout the day, on the field, the Pioneers also showcased some talented football players.
The Pioneers’ Widget Americans did all they could to bring plenty of attention to themselves with some long runs, a few touchdowns and plenty of tackling as they doubled-up on the visiting Bulldogs of Tinley Park in their 24-12 homecoming victory.
The hard-hitting began early in the game as the Pioneers defensive efforts overwhelmed the Bulldogs. Leading the early defensive charge were Nicholas McKibben, Jake Stefanos and Collin Jennings, who each recorded several tackles early.
The Bulldogs didn’t seem to have an answer for Stefanos’ defensive prowess; he constantly found or was in the vicinity of the ball carrier.
Offensively it didn’t take long for the Pioneers to take an early 6-0 lead. Two runs by Jennings netted the Pioneers 13 yards, and the first time Frank Edelen touched the ball he raced 36 yards for his first touchdown.
When Tinley Park got a second chance, they made the most of it, but it took some doing as Jake Scumaci, Edelen and Jennings made them earn every yard.
The visitors managed to tie the game at 6-6 on an 8-yard scamper, but that seemed to rile up the Pioneers. They quickly took control of the game from there.
Two back-to-back 16-yard runs by Edelen and Nick D’Antonio and a 13-yard burst into the end zone by Edelen allowed the Pioneers to regain the lead and sent them to halftime leading 12-6.

Quarterback Jake Stefanos, of the Widget American Pioneers, fakes the run and draws the Tinley Park defense to him during the Pioneers 24-12 Homecoming win.

After the intermission, the Pioneers were back at it offensively, and once again Edelen did what he does best. He blasted past the line and streaked into the end zone for his third touchdown of the day.
Edelen said, “It’s not as easy as you think. That was hard to do.” After being told he makes it look easy, Edelen gave the credit elsewhere.
“We had some pretty good blocking, but it’s still not that easy. I could be a little faster.”
Now leading 18-6, the American Pioneers let loose the defense and forced a fumble. Stefanos and Edelen clamped on the Bulldogs ball carrier, and Jennings came up with the loose ball.
The Pioneers added their last score and upped their lead to 24-6 when none other than Edelen ran 52 yards for his fourth touchdown.
On six carries, Edelen had 186 yards rushing with four touchdowns. That’s a whopping 31 yards a carry, and he said it wasn’t easy.
Tinley Park added another score late in the game to bring the score to 24-12. The Pioneers defense did limit long runs most of the game and was led by Stefanos, but he too ran into some difficulties in the second half and explained why.
“In the beginning of the game, I could get to the ball pretty good,” he said. “I would push hard past the line, but later I was being double-double teamed, so it was harder.”
Stefanos led the Pioneers defense with six solo tackles.
Other Pioneer contributors in the game were: Anthony Shelton, Gavin O’Brochta, Cooper Sigel, Kyle Evoy, Tommy Stotts, A.J. Grimes, Joe Rizza, Morgan O’Malley, Max Konieczki, Ryan Ulleweit, Connor Begley and Nikola Abusara.
Coach Frank Edelen said of his team’s effort: “I feel pretty good how the team is going. We have great effort and work well as team, considering their ages.”
He also praised his son’s performance.
“He had an outstanding effort and works really hard,” he said. “I purposely give him the ball the least, and you saw he only had a handfull of carries. I try to spread the ball around, with him getting it the least, so he did very well today.”
Keeping the crowd entertained throughout the game were the Pioneers cheerleaders. Doing their best on the sidelines were" Nicolette and Sophia Allen, Nicole Bonfitto, Annabelle Cannici, Lucie Chicvara, Aubree Conroy, Ava Franzese, Gianna Frech, Julia Kalkowski, Morgan Onderwater, Tasneem Othman, Gileena Rezzardi, Reese Rodriguez, Olivia Skrocki, Sieira Sporleder, Gianna Stout and Vivian Villa.
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