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The Junior Varsity Pioneers swarm to stop a Frankfort Square runner in their Scarlet Division debut Sunday.

Scarlet JV falls in league debut

Pioneers suffer home loss to Frankfort Square

By Kevin McGavin
Photos by Ken Dado
ORLAND PARK -- The Orland Park Pioneers Scarlet Junior Varsity team needed a change of momenum against Frankfort Square on Sunday afternoon.
John-Michael Scumaci answered the call to begin the second half.
With his team trailing by one score at Sandburg High School, Scumaci seemingly changed the tone by recovering an onside kick to begin the third quarter.
"The defensive player (on special teams), lined up with him," Scumaci said of his special teams recovery. "He moved away from the ball, I just jumped on it."
Unfortunately for the Pioneers, though, a holding penalty and six-yard loss due to a fumbled exchange in the backfield doomed the drive.
Frankfort Square forced the first of three second-half turnovers two plays later and had long touchdown runs on back-to-back possessions after the intermission to win the game 20-0 in the PIoneers' season opener in its new association -- the River Valley Youth Football League.
The Pioneers (0-1) could not sustain any sense of offensive rhythm in their season debut.
Frankfort Square (1-0) did not allow Orland Park a single first down in the game as their ball-control offense and pressure defense were too much for the Pioneers to overcome.
"We kept our defense out there too long," Orland Park JV coach Jim Roche said. "We were three-and-out constantly, so we did no favors to our defense. Our offense didn't help out our defense."
The Pioneers received the opening kickoff and had solid field position to start.
Under a heavy rush, Justin Egan (25) gets ready to throw downfield while Zach Bateman (left) and Ryan McPolin try to help Sunday.
But when Zach Bateman was dropped for a three-yard loss on the Pioneers' first play from scrimmage, Frankfort Square had clearly established an early pattern that remained a game-long dilemma for Orland Park.
"The running backs couldn't get through the holes," Bateman said. "Getting the running backs past the line is key. We have to work on that more."
The almost continuous running clock in the league gives an additional impetus to the team that can string together first downs.
Frankfort Square, following the Pioneers' three-and-done to start the game, held possession for the entire remainder of the first quarter.
The Pioneers' defense was given new life when the first of two first-half scoring runs by Frankfort star running back Payton Orth was nullfied by holding penalties.
"We were really fortunate (by the two called-back touchdowns)," Orland Park linebacker Brian Funk said.
With the Wildcats threatening inside the Pioneers' 5-yard line, Funk ensured the game remained a scoreless contest.
As the first quarter horn sounded, Funk recovered a mishandled Frankfort Square exchange only steps from his goal line to preserve the tie.
"They just lost the ball, and one of their O-lineman just kicked it right at me," Funk said. "I just started running with it."
Once again, though, the Pioneers' offense was unable to move the chains.
Frankfort Square stopped the Pioneers a yard shy to force a second-straight three-and-out.
Then Orth had a 54-yard burst that apparently opened the scoring on the Wildcats' first play of their second drive, only to have it negated by penalty.
But the Pioneers remained unable to stem the Wildcats' ground-heavy attack that featured a critical 15-yard pass reception to sustain the drive.
Then Orland Park was called for too many men on the field which moved the ball to its own 1-yard line.
Frankfort Square scored all the points they needed on the next play.
The Pioneers ran a mere eight plays from scrimmage in the opening half and needed an open-field tackle by Ryan McPolin to prevent the Wildcats' Ben Ritter from scoring on an interception at the halftime horn.
McPolin proved to be a bright spot for the Pioneers. The linebacker was all over the field in leading the Orland Park defenders with seven solo or shared tackles.
"Ryan had a good job on defense today," Roche said. "There is no quit in him."
Trailing 6-0 at the break, Orland Park appeared headed toward a respectable second half showing with a special teams turnover to start the second half.
But disaster soon befell the Pioneers.
Orth and Ritter had respective scoring runs of 40 and 55 yards on consecutive third quarter possessions to account for the final score.
Both touchdowns came on the first play of the drives.
"We need to do a better job of containing," Bateman said.
The Ritter touchdown, off a misdirection play up the middle, featured several missed opportunities by Pioneer defenders.
"I thought we had some momentum to come out in the second half, but we couldn't get anything going on offense," Roche said. "Our defense was on the field too long."
The Pioneers' contributors in the game included: Jake Wantroba, Martinas Petruska, Munkhbat Nergui, Benjamin Westphal, Nathan Rodriquez, Connor Dixon, Vince Arunno, Jacob Coleman, Connor Crotty, Ryan Cary, MIchael Walsh, Matt Stubenfoll, Jackson Beach, James Roche, Thomas Starcevich, Jack Harty, Mike Rafati, Adam Zolnik, Nathan Schmidt, Daniel McNamara, John Alfarah, Stephen Sullivan, Andrew Messineo, Ahmad Alrazzaq, Jayson Walls, Michael Clifford, Tyler Milani, Jonah Hladish, Justin Egan and Mimmy Khouri.
Fifth-and-sixth-grade cheerleaders Alivia Achterhoff, Leah Baker, Kailin Bauer, Madeline Casey, Bella Dahlberg, Ella Gillund, Raelee Gravitt, Abby Hilbring, Amber Hoak, Samantha Jeffries, Giselle Jreisat, Haley Kolinski, Jocelyn LaVelle, Chloe LaVelle, Emily Manning, Ariana Morris, McKayla Onderwater, Gianna Rapisarda, Angelina Salaita, Claudia Sawic, Aleksandra Simkus, Gretchen Steenvoorden, Kristina Vasilijevic and Lija Vigants urged on the Pioneers.
The girls' coach is Sandburg freshman Grace Conway.
Today's Schedule: Season Schedule