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Frankie Edelen dashes for huge yardage. 


America Widgets defense slams

the door on Frankfort Square

Pioneers running game also gets in gear in 18-0 win



By Ed Muniz
Photo by Ken Dado

CHICAGO -- When the Orland Park Pioneers American Widgets took the field at Marist High School on Saturday, the two things folks expected from coach Frank Edelen’s team were that his offense would produce big chunks of yardage from the running backs and his defense would attack relentlessly.
It didn’t start out that way offensively, but defensively, the Pioneers played exactly as envisioned. As a result, the American Widgets dominated their visitors from Frankfort Square en route to a convincing 18-0 victory.
The effort pleased Edelen, who started his praise with the defensive line.
“The kids just played great. They did just about everything right. They just played phenomenally well today. I’m lucky, I’ve got horses. Great job on both lines,” he said. “We were able to control the offensive line today. We were able to run the ball one drive for 11 minutes. That’s unheard of at this level.”
The previous week, the Pioneers were upended by a talented Dolton team. That didn’t feel right to this group of boys, and this week they were determined to get back to their usual winning ways.
The game began with Frankfort Square running off nine-straight plays before the Pioneers shut them down. Even after getting the ball back two plays later, the result of a Pioneers fumble, the Wildcats only had the ball for an additional three plays.
In its second possession, Pioneers ball carrier Collin Jennings picked up 14 yards on two-straight carries, and teammate Frank Edelen took the next carry 39 yards, dashing right around the end and flying past nearly every Wildcats defender before being stopped a yard short of the end zone.
One play later, quarterback Jake Stefanos plunged in from a yard out, giving the Pioneers a 6-0 lead.
The ensuing Frankfort Square drive took them all the way to the Pioneers 7-yard line before time ran out in the first half.
The Pioneers opened the second half with an 11-play scoring drive that took more than 14 minutes off the clock. Jennings and Edelen each added more than 20 yards of rushing apiece. The drive ended with Jennings' 3-yard blast into the end zone. The score gave the Pioneers a 12-0 lead.
Frankfort Square began to succumb to the elements. The cold-and-rainy weather affected their offense after a long Pioneers drive. Unable to do much, they turned over the ball on downs after four plays.
Edelen and Nick D’Antonio each carried for big yardage, and when Stefanos broke free again around right end for 15 yards, it looked like the Pioneers would score quickly. But a fumble went out of the end zone and gave the ball back to Frankfort Square.
With time winding down, the Pioneers defense again gave the ball back to the offense. D’Antonio streaked 42 yards with just 38 seconds left after breaking several tackles and put the final points on the board.
You expected big gainers from the offense, and that’s what the Pioneer Americans acccomplished, with Edelen, D’Antonio, Jennings and Stefanos doing their part.
The shutout defense saw several players rallying to the ball and gang tackling. From the opening whistle to the last tick on the scoreboard clock, the Pioneers defense was smothering.
Defensively, Jennings, Kyle Evoy, Stefanos, Jake Scumaci, Edelen, Gavin O’Brachta and A.J. Grimes had solo tackles, but others such as Athony Shelton, Nicolas McKibben, Cooper Sigel, Tommy Stotts, Joe Rizza, Morgan O’Malley, Max Konieczki, Ryan Ulleweit and Nikola Abusara all contributed in the dominating win. D’Antonio turned in an especially fine performance.
“I just kept shooting the gaps on the left when I played against the right tackle," he said. "In the second quarter I had a little kid on me, so I just blew right through him and got the tackle. I like playing on this field.”
D’Antonio wasn’t all defense. His 42-yard touchdown run was the play of the day. “It was like a 33 dive, and I just bounced outside and broke away from a few kids and ran as fast as I could," he said. "It was kinda fun to do that.”
Also doing their best from the sidelines were a squad of Pioneer Cheerleaders who didn’t let Mother Nature ruin their, or the Pioneer fans', spirit.
Nicolette Allen, Morgan Begley, Lucie Chicvara, Ava Franzese, Gianna Frech, Julia Kalkowski, Reese Rodriguez, Olivia Skrocki, Siera Sporledeh and Vivian Villa supported the players and kept the chilly fans entertained.
Coaches Marylou Marin and Amanda Meiner led the group. The 15-year-old Meiner explained why she enjoys coaching this squad: “I like teaching them and seeing them grow and understand the concept of what it is to be a cheerleading team and how they improve.
"They learn to cheer for the boys, but they also like cheering for themselves. I like watching them succeed. When they finish a routine, and they know they did it right, they all smile. That’s the best.”
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