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Photo by Ken Dado
J.P Czerwinski (59) looks for holes in the Tinley Park defense as he rambles for positive yardage during the Pioneers 12-12 Homecoming tie.

Widget Nationals fight to draw

Penalty stalls late drive, chance for win


By Ed Muniz

ORLAND PARK -- Under the guidance of coach John Czerwinski, the Pioneer Widget National team has improved each week. 
Coming home for all the Homecoming festivities, the Pioneers were looking to keep that trend going as their rivals from Tinley Park visited.
Offensively, the Pioneers opened the game with run, run and more RUN! The result was an 11-play opening drive that produced the game’s first score when J.P. Czerwinski powered in from two yards out for the 6-0 Pioneer lead.
The scoring drive saw good ball control assisted by a costly Bulldog facemask penalty on one of Czerwinski’s runs -- he touched the ball on five of the attempts for 17 yards. Adding to the ground attack were running backs Jimmy Lalezas and Scott Ryback. Also adding yardage was Andrew Dado.
Tinley Park didn’t hold on to the ball long as the stingy Pioneer defense was steadfast early in the game. 
On their second possession, the Pioneers faced a more determined Bulldog defense and found themselves being tested on every play which resulted in negative yardage.
Neither team was able to get much offense going from that point until halftime as defenses from both teams muscled their way and made holes in the offensive line. For the Pioneers, Dado, Mohammed Elagha, Czerwinski, Rybak and Justin Hilgenberg recorded numerous tackles.
The 6-0 lead held as both teams gathered at half to make adjustments.
The Widget division plays two halfs with a 25-minute continuous clock that only stops for time outs and injuries.
As part of the halftime entertainment, the entire Pioneers Cheerleading program performed in a very impressive gathering at midfield. Players from both teams watched as the music blasted and the cheers went on from 161 girls ranging in age from 6 to 13.
When the action on the field commenced for the second half, The Bulldogs ran and forced their way through the Pioneer defense as it looked to even up the score.
Holding steady the Pioneers managed to end the eight-play Bulldog drive behind the tackling of Dado, Vincent Villa, Brian Harms, Hilgenberg and Ryback.
The Bulldogs broke through the stingy Pioneer defense on their next possession for the equalizing touchdown. But Orland Park answered the challenge. Two plays later, Dado busted off a 38-yard touchdown power run to put his Pioneers up 12-6.
Dado’s power running and refusal to be tackled led the Pioneers offensive ways much of the second half. 
“I was trying to just see where I could go and not go down,” said Dado. “I tried to follow the blocking and get what I could get.”
Defensively, J.P. Czerwinski was doing all he could to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard after several tackles.
“I was watching where the ball was at and get through to make the tackle," Czersinski said. "I kept pushing and was able to find the guy with the ball.”
In a matter of four plays after nearly a whole game of 6-0 football, the score changed quickly. The Bulldogs countered with a 45-yard TD took just one play after the second Pioneer score. That tied the game at 12-12.
Two plays later, the Pioneers were looking to take the lead. Dado again refused to go down and broke off a long run of 37 yards that set up the Pioneers for success as time was running out.
With seconds left, the Pioneers were at the Bulldog 1 yard-line but on fourth-and-goal a penalty pushed them back and left them unsatisfied with a tie game.
Coach John Czerwinski was still quite satisfied and said “I thought overall we played a very good game. Our offensive line did great, and I think we are getting better and better each game. We really did well today.”
Other Pioneers who displayed their skills in the game were: Sean Glynn, Ali Elagha, Ryan Samoska, Wayne Goodman, Connor O’Reilly, Jimmy Lalezas, Coregan Kuempel, Mikey Mustafa. Amir Alian, Nathan Gray, Dennis Tarandy, Luke Czerwinski and Michael Sczurek.
For cheerleader Kayleigh Rose, it was much more fun to be on the sidelines then on the field. The third grader was all about doing as many of the cheers as possible.
 “I just think it is so much fun to cheer, I like it so much," she said. "It’s what I really like to do with all the other girls.”
The other cheerleaders urging on their team were: Taylor Allen, Kierstin Cappello, Morgan Hampe, Abby McCasland, Brianna Pawlikowski, Emilia Rachmaciej and Kaylee Swiech.
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