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Lightweight Pioneers running back Frank Edelen looks for room outside as New Lenox gives chase. 


Lightweight Pioneers stumble
in battle of unbeatens

New Lenox dominates time of possession in 22-7 win


By Kevin McGavin
CHICAGO -- The Orland Park Lightweight defense spent entirely too much time on the field Sunday afternoon at Marist High School.
In a showdown between two undefeated River Valley Youth Football League teams, New Lenox had three scoring drives of 11 or more plays in a 22-7 victory.
“They had a great game plan,” Orland Park Lightweight coach Ken Stack said. “They attacked us. If you have to lose a game, you have to lose now. The sun comes up tomorrow. Everything will be great.”
The Pioneers (6-1-0) had a promising start after Frank Edelen had a 17-yard kickoff return to begin the game.
Four plays later, Edelen moved the chains for the opening first down of the game with an 18-yard sweep along the left side.
“Number 5 (teammate Braden Tischer) blocked number 22 (Jeremy Deval), and there was a big hole to get through,” Edelen said.
Edelen would carry twice in the following three Pioneer plays from scrimmage, but New Lenox took over on downs after a John McAuliffe incompletion.
New Lenox mounted the first of its time-consuming drives for scores on its first possession.
The Orland Park defense, anchored by the play of Edelen, McAuliffe, Jake Scumaci, Evan Benos, Conner Stack and Sam Jaunich, was presented with several different types of counter plays by the Warriors’ offense.
In particular, Deval would be a major thorn for the Pioneers’ defense throughout the game.
“We didn’t wrap up number 22 (Deval) like we should have,” Edelen said.
The Lightweight Pioneer defense was on the field for most of the game against New Lenox.
The Warriors’ opening scoring drive of 11 plays for 62 yards took almost an entire quarter in the running-clock game. Deval found paydirt from four yards out.
New Lenox followed with a surprise onside kick and recovered it.
But the Orland Park defense in general and Edelen in particular revived the Pioneers’ hopes when the latter made one of his nine solo tackles on fourth down.
“All I can really say is I got a lot of help from the D-line today,” Edelen said of his defensive presence. “The linebackers were pretty good, too.”
The Pioneers took over and on third-and-eight, Tischer caught a wheel route from out of the backfield for the Pioneers’ largest gain of the game -- 25 yards.
“You just go out there, and (McAuliffe) throws it to me,” Tischer said. “(The play) is usually short yardage, but it turned out to be big.”
Unfortunately for Orland Park, New Lenox (7-0-0) forced and recovered a fumble on the next play to stop the Pioneers’ most promising drive.
“(The turnover) kind of hurt after the big play,” Tischer said. “But it was a big deal we stopped them after four plays and got the ball back.”
Desperately trying to beat the first half intermission horn, Orland Park had one final second quarter possession.
Pioneers defensive back Brian Devlin (47) avoids a block and draws a bead on a New Lenox runner.
With Scumaci subbing for McAuliffe at quarterback, the two collaborated on a 14-yard passing connection.
But New Lenox held firm to deny the Pioneers drive.
The second half proved to be the downfall of the Pioneers bid to stay undefeated.
New Lenox controlled its destiny and the game by running 24 of the first 28 plays from scrimmage.
The Warriors’ back-to-back scoring drives gave them a 22-0 lead and initiated a running clock -- for a lead of 20 or more points -- with one minute and 54 seconds to play.
“Against a team like that, it’s all about possessions,” coach Stack said. “They controlled the ball and grinded it. There’s not that many plays (in the Lightweight format). We will learn from our mistakes and move forward.”
Conner Stack also played admirably for the Pioneers’ overworked defense.
“Well, I’m supposed to contain outside, and I did that,” Connor stack said. “We didn’t block and execute (on offense).”
With time at a premium, Orland Park began its final drive at the Warriors’ 30-yard line.
Edelen sandwiched two 11-yard plays to Tischer with an eight-yard run for the Pioneers’ only score.
In the “fifth-quarter” exhibition that preceded the game, the Pioneers were led by Matthew Coleman and Jack Elliott on offense.
Jack Fei, Jonathan Snider and Dominic Palumbo were the defensive standouts.
Other players who supported the Pioneers efforts were: Santino Chlada, Gavin Vahl, Liam LeGrand, Scott Miklos, Corey Kurecki, John Masino, Brian McBride, Ryan Sullivan, Jack Johnson, Nicholas McKibben, Holden Whittam, Sami Alrazzaq, Matthew Villarreal, Mitchell Kieklak, Eloy Molina, Alan Fako, Dominic Citarella, Brady Pisarik, Vince Villa, Jaden Weaver, Ryne Sternberg, Michael Sczurek and Colin Ferguson.
The cheerleaders who urged on the Pioneers were: Nicolette Allen, Nicole Bonfitto, Allyson Burke, Cate Burke, Annabella Cannici, Emma Collias, Aubree Conroy, Ciara Coyle, Lexi Eurkaitis, Natalie Felthouse, Gianna Frech, Grace Gardner, Nadia Ghouleh, Gianna Hernandez, Bianca Kois, Angelina Lamantia, Alexandra Laska, Sarah Martino, Samantha Masino, Abby McCasland, McKenna Patton, Emily Ramirez, Reese Rodriquez, Giana Shepley, Olivia Skrocki, Sieira Sporleder, Gianna Staudt and Allison Welch.
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