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Sporting shades and sprinting between would-be Mokena tacklers, Luke Basiorka piles up some yardage for the Pioneers.


Super Lightweights win streak continues

Stout defense leads the way

Text and photos by Ed Muniz
NEW LENOX -- One Pioneer team that seems to heading in the right direction is the Super Lightweights squad. Under the tutelage of coach Todd Skelton and staff, the Pioneers have steadily improved their game both offensively and defensively and notched two-consecutive wins. They were looking to make it three in a row after their visit to play the Mokena Burros in Week 5 of the RVYFL season.
With their head coach unable to make the game due to a prior commitment, the Pioneers played under the direction of assistant coach Chris Stefanos. Without missing a beat, once again they showed the steady improvement that their fans may now be expecting and held off a scrappy Mokena Burros team for a 13-7 win.
It started quickly for the Pioneers when Victor Villa set up his teammates with 21-yard kickoff return to the Burros 33-yard line. From there it took all of one play for the Pioneers to jump out ahead.
Running back Luke Detampel swept around the right end and went the distance for a quick touchdown. After Terrell Patterson added the point-after, the Pioneers led 7-0 early in the game.
The Pioneer defense quickly made sure their hosts knew that things were going to be quite difficult for them. Jeff Bellik made three-consecutive tackles including one after a successful 16-yard Burro pass play. Villa again stepped up along with Toddy Shelton when each recorded a tackle when the Burros went to the air. Then Luke Basiorka quickly ended the drive with his interception. 
With the ball back in the Pioneers hands and Basiorka and Bellik leading the blocking, Detampel went 21 yards on the last play of the first quarter.
Opening the second quarter, the Pioneers now went left and didn’t stop until Bellik ran 43 yards into the endzone for the touchdown. A failed point-after left the Pioneers with a 13-0 lead.
The Pioneers offense would not see the field again until the second half. The Burros used the rest of the second quarter clock trying to score. Great defensive pressure and gang-tackling limited the Burros success. Leading the Orland Park tackling barrage were Basiorka, Bellik, Joey Epley, Keegan Kirk and Patterson. Throw in a sack by Detampel and the Burros were probably thinking they were carrying Pioneers on their backs after being tackled so much to end the half.
Jeff Bellik Pioneers looks to the sideline after making a tackle.
After receiving the kickoff, Mokena recorded an oddity in the third quarter. The Burros used the entire period on one drive, extending it into the fourth as they tried to get on the scoreboard. The 12-play drive would net zero points. It ended at the Orland Park 8-yard line due to the efforts and skills of Bellik, Beck Stukel, Shelton, Kirk, Villa, Joey Epley and standout Nick McGriff.
“I almost had a quarterback sack, and I made five good tackles and nearly stripped a ball," said McGriff. 
When asked how he could improve his game, McGriff said, “I need to practice on my three-point stance and firing off the ball. As a team we need to do more teamwork on offense to really be good, but we’re pretty good now.”
The Pioneers didn’t do much with their possession that followed, and punted. Needing a quick score with just 7 minutes left, the Burros moved downfield quickly and did score from 6 yards via the pass. Adding the point after, the Burros trailed 13-7 with 5 minutes remaining.
Another three-and-out by the Pioneers now gave the Burros a chance to win the game late. Things looked dicey when they moved the ball into Pioneers territory. But Mokena's final-minute pass attempt was snagged by Pioneers defender Basiorka at the Orland Park 20-yard line. That sealed the Pioneers third-consecutive win and improved the Pioneers to 3-1-0 on the season.
For assistant coach Stefanos, the numerous Mokena completions were difficult to watch.
“We knew they were going to pass, and it was a little frustrating, but give them credit," he said. "They connected on a few and played well. We started off cruising. 
“After the first quarter they started playing us a lot tougher. They were holding us to their game and we didn’t touch the ball for the whole third quarter. Unfortunately that limited us and kept us out of the endzone. We did a few things right, but we need to work on some stuff.”
Other Pioneers making their presence felt in the win were: Caden Nestor, Kaden Kramer, Colm Coyle, Jack Enright, Devin Stefanos, Anthony Molina, Mason Vahl, Jake Buechele, Jake Drew, Nick Slechta, Anthony Kazaitis, Braden Czerniuk, Aiden Evans, Jordan Masino, Aiden Patterson, Quinn Durkin, Brandon Dion, Thomas Elliott, Lukas Boyce and James McCormick.
Cheering on the Super Lightweights were: Vanessa Annel, Ava Bernardi, Ava Brennen, Sydney Czerniak, Sophia Dornbos, Ashley Fahey, Ella Groark, Mia Hilbruger, Keira Kehlert, Alexandra Keysboe, Emma Kusper, Lily Masino, Ryligh Maugeri, Cassidy McKibben, Kaelyn Morales, Addy Moran, Natalie Oprondek, Kaelyn Ponce, Makenzie Prah, Emily Sayger, Natalie Schmidt, Brianna Sievers, Aileen Tunney and Heidi Wagner.
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