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Photo by Cal Phillips

Chiefs Claim Crown - Defeat Pioneer For Class B Title

By Tony Fiorello
Published on November 11th, 2022 @ 8:30pm

When the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV during the 2019 NFL season, Chiefs radio play-by-play man Mitch Holthus said “The Chiefs Kingdom has firmly planted its flag on top of football’s highest summit.”

The same can now be said for the Iroquois Chiefs (11-0, 5-0 B1). After falling in the Section VI Class B title game two years in a row, coach Rob Pitzonka’s squad defeated the Pioneer Panthers (8-3, 4-1 B1) 18-7 at Highmark Stadium on Friday night to officially win their first sectional crown since 2004 and the second in school history.

Photo by Shawn Turri

“I couldn’t be happier for our kids and our community,” Pitzonka said. “It’s been a long time coming. These guys have trusted our game plan since January. They played for each other, and that’s what we talked about – if you saw us during our pregame stretch you’d have seen every kid stand up and state what their ‘why’ was, and the majority was all brotherhood and family.

“That’s good because if we’re playing for more than just a sectional championship but for a brotherhood, no team can beat us. So to see them battle for each other and execute late in that game when the game and the weather were tough – I couldn’t be happier to be their coach.”

Junior running back Trevor Barry agreed.

“I’ve been here since I was a freshman and now we’ve finally gotten through,” Barry said. “When I was a freshman, my brother was a senior on this team and watching him lose in the sectional finals broke my heart. Same thing last year when we lost and I got hurt.

Photo by Shawn Turri

“I came here tonight not wanting to disappoint three years in a row, and we came out with a win.”

The game was also a defensive struggle – something unusual for the Chiefs. Iroquois had scored 27 or more points in every game they had played this season, while Pioneer had given up 14-plus points in a contest just three times heading into the night.

Pitzonka knew his defense would be ready to play on Friday night, and it showed in allowing just seven points.

“I’ve got to give credit to my coaches for that,” Pitzonka said. “Coach (Dave) Bonacquisti and my brother Travis – these guys are flawless with their game plans every week. I know Pioneer’s defense is tough, but so are we. The kids bought into what we were selling, practiced hard all week and tackled strong.”

Not surprisingly, the offensive key for Iroquois was Barry. Barry first made his mark when he got his team on the board first with a 14-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. The Panthers, however, wouldn’t concede as Gavin Schwab connected with Karter Giboo for a 64-yard score less than a minute later.

Barry would account for the Chiefs’ next two scores as well – another 14-yard run up the middle on a gap scheme run in the second stanza of play and a third rushing touchdown from three yards out in the third quarter was all his team needed offensively.

Photo by Shawn Turri

Barry’s production this season – over 2,000 yards rushing and a staggering 42 touchdowns – are certainly eye-popping, but not surprising according to Pitzonka.

“It’s crazy to think that I’m going to have another year with him,” Pitzonka said. “He’s doing things that haven’t been done around here in a long time. It goes to his offseason – he works so darn hard in the gym, he has his own gym in his basement. He pushes his teammates and tries to raise them up to his standard.

“There’s a lot of tailbacks in their area that just play tailback, but Trevor’s also a linebacker, our punter, our kick returner – he does it all. So for him to have the night he had – to say that we expected it? We did, because he’s been that dominant the whole year.”

The Far West Regional now beckons Iroquois and there is still work to be done to accomplish the Chiefs’ ultimate goal.

“It’s just coming down to watching film now,” Pitzonka said. “My staff and I will sit down and have a game plan ready by tomorrow, sit with the kids and review the film from tonight and show them what we have on our next opponent.

“It’s what we talked about all year. Our goal is to be 1-0 every week. We’re going to enjoy this tonight but once tomorrow hits it’s all about that 1-0 mentality again.”

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