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Pioneers power back Jimmy Rolder makes one of his bruising runs against Bourbonnais.

Junior Varsity lives up to coach's reputation

Pioneers roll 28-0 in 1st game under Mikesell



By Ed Muniz

Photos by Ken Dado

ORLAND PARK -- When you have success as often as Mark Mikesell has in his coaching tenure with the Orland Park Pioneers, you earn the reputation of being a winner. 

Under Mikesell’s guidance, the Pioneers have excelled at every level that he and his staff have coached and provided leadership.
This year, assisted by John Stefanos, Mikesell takes the lead of the Junior Varsity team in the hopes of continuing his winning ways. Last year his Varsity team, which included his son, brought home a national championship.
Some expect a repeat season or something close to it. For Mikesell, that’s where the bar is set. He welcomes the challenge, and his players understand the situation. 
Some stated that they give extra effort during practice and games because they don’t want to let their coaches down. 
The team’s desire and will to win is obvious as is the discipline and cohesiveness. They are a team with a sole purpose.
Hosting a Bourbonnais team that looked ready to take on all comers, the Pioneers expected a tough game. What actually happened was a dominating Pioneers performance where most of the players found plenty of field time in a 28-0 runaway. 
Getting playing time for a 47-man roster isn’t easy but a large number of players saw plenty of game time and gathered experience for the rest of the season. With you plan on this team, you’d better be ready when called upon -- competition for field time will be never-ending.
The game didn’t start well for the Pioneers. Quarterback Tommy McAuliffe was sacked on the opening play followed by a run that gained no yardage. Going to the air, McAuliffe found open running back Jacob Maziarka, who sped for 12 yards and set the tone for the rest of the day for the offense. The Pioneers never looked back. 
The next four plays saw hard-running tailback Jimmy Rolder gain 28 yards to the Bears 18-yard line. From there, McAuliffe dropped back and found a wide-open Julian Loeza for the opening score. After Maziarka caught the conversion pass from McAuliffe, the Pioneers led 7-0 five minutes into the game.
The hosts were just as solid on defense as they were with the ball. Bourbonnais’ ensuing series saw them stifled and stuffed with little yardage due to the tackling of McAuliffe, Jackson Schramm and Rolder.
After they blocked the punt attempt on fourth down, the Pioneers started their next possession at the Bears 31-yard line but were unable to get much going. Bourbonnais got the ball back on downs as the first quarter ended.
Jacob Maziarka prepares to make a cutback to find running room.
With Rolder leading the Pioneers defense, the visitors got absolutely nothing on three attempts before fumbling a punt attempt. 
Orland Park took over with Jake Stefanos under center. He encountered a strong Bears rush. Unable to do much with the opportunity, the Pioneers again turned the ball over on downs. A game that started with dominating performance now found the Pioneers out of sync offensively.
Defensively, the Pioneers were solid and continued to give very little ground to the Bears. Joe Shelton gained a solid tackle and kept the Bourbonnais stymied at the line. After forcing a punt, the Pioneers Loeza took the ball and gained 15 yards to put the Pioneers in excellent position once again.
On third down, starting quarterback McAuliffe connected on a pass with Maziarka that went 20 yards and found the endzone. Rolder added the extra point, and the lead was now 14-0 with just under four minutes left before half.
The next minute-and-a-half saw the Pionners extend their lead twice. After a Schramm interception, the Pioneers struck quickly. Maziarka escaped untouched and ran 45 yards for the third touchdown. The Rolder conversion made it 21-0.
Quickly forcing another Bears error, the defense got the ball back to the Pioneers offense. McAuliffe broke free from 16 yards out to seal the scoring with the fourth Pioneer touchdown. Another Rolder conversion concluded the scoring.
The second half saw many changes to the Pioneers line-up. Running back Andrew Dado ran hard and was a handful to bring down each time he carried the ball. Stefanos led the offense and improved his game. Nick D’Antonio gained notice running with authority each time he was called on.
Defensively, the line-up changed but the results didn’t for the Pioneers. Dado and Rolder were huge leading the defensive assault in the second half and Schramm grabbed his second interception. Try as they might, Bourbonnais was thwarted every offensive series and frustrated by a Pioneers team that came in expecting to do well.
Rolder was the game’s MVP. His strong offensive play was matched by his defensive performance. He ran the ball with power and pounded everyone who tried to stop him. 
Defensively, he had a knack for being wherever the Bears ballcarrier was. 
“I just do my job while everybody else does theirs. It’s a total team effort,” said Rolder. “I try my best no matter what, so I expect to do well. I work hard in practice and so does the team. We like playing for such a great coach and you want to play for him. He shows you what it’s like to want to win and so you want to be a winner like him. We all do.”
When asked what he thought his team could do better, Rolder thought for a moment. Maybe blocking longer, maybe,” he said.
Coach Mikesell was happy with the team but hard on himself after the dominating win.
“We have a lot of talent on this team,” he said. “Coach John and I came back to the JV. We never coached any of these kids; we’ve been at it for three weeks now. I think we stumbled a little bit on offense and on defense a couple of series, but all and all I was happy with the effort.”
When asked what they can get better at, Mikesell said; “I can get better at calling a game, I tell you that. I wish I could get a couple of calls back. 
"We have to get better at pass blocking. But I’m happy we came out at half and had a running clock; I’m happy about that.”
Even with the large roster finding playing time won’t be an issue. The 47-man squad will also play a Fifth Quarter each game and look to get additional games in their Monday or Wednesday leagues.
Contributing to the Junior Varsity’s opening win was: Martinas Petruska, Christian Evans, Ryan Welch, Munkhbat Nergui, John Thompson, Troy Faille, Scott Rybak, Lukas Pukstys, Max Montgomery, Tommy Durkin, Sean Halloran, Conor McCormick, Charlie Soltys, Jacob Masino, Nicholas Edelen, Jimmy Lelazas, Joseph Calacci, John Mazenko, Michael Ulleweit, Ryan McPolin, Brian Devlin, Drew Saunders, Frank D’Antonio, Abdel Ghouleh, Tommy Stotts, Thomas Starcevich, Gavin Kissane, Jack Harty, Nicholas Presbitero, Connor and Jackson Beach, Ken Gillette, Tyler Biszewski, Mike Rafti, Zakery Bowden, Kyle Peterson, Angelo Citarella and Max Urbas.
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