Good luck trying to slow down Palatine.
The Pirates revved up and never let up Friday night, rebounding from their demoralizing overtime loss to Montini by lashing host Buffalo Grove in a Mid-Suburban League crossover football game 42-7 at Grant Blaney Stadium.
"We wanted to get our swagger back," versatile Alex Nawrot said after scoring 4 touchdowns. Two came on rushes in the first half and 2 on receptions in the second half on pinpoint drills from Ethan Olles (15-for-19, 217 yards).
The Pirates (1-1) scored on 4 of 5 first-half possessions as Olles clicked on his first 7 passes and Nawrot wound up with 9 receptions for 120 yards. When Olles wasn't hitting Nawrot, he was finding lanky Eric Theis (6-foot-3) four times and once more for a 2-point conversion in the second quarter.
The strategy, Nawrot said, was to spread the ball around. "Just get the ball to who ever is open," he said. He found open space running the ball too, carrying just 3 times, but for 20 yards and 2 more TDs behind Palatine's monstrous offensive line of Josh Baldus, Justin Roberts, Tyler Sydlowski, Ron Rouette and Cody Oversen.
Their play was critical because head coach Tyler Donnelly stressed how important it was to improve in red-zone and short-yardage situations from the week before.
"Bottom line: we didn't want to go into that [short-yardage] set and not make it," he said. "That was a lot of our focus."
And improving on defense. They held BG to 177 yards and really stifled the Bison (0-2) after quarterback Brian Kleczynski (6-for-7, 76 yards) went out with a knee injury after hitting Ryan Schumi (8 catches, 73 yards) with a swing pass that became a 47-yard touchdown and made it a 13-7 game in the second quarter. BG's offense had little swagger after that.
"It helps to get three starters back," Donnelly said of his defense regaining the services of some valuable pieces, including two-way player John Serio, who also scored two TDs in the first half out of the wildcat formation.
BG is just trying to regroup, though, behind rebuilding mastermind Mike DiMatteo. But he's more impressed with his kids' effort than depressed about being outscored 70-14 so far by teams that figure to be playoff noisemakers (Lake Forest and Palatine).
"You look for improvement," he said of what he'll be reviewing the films for against a Palatine team he termed of 8A-championship caliber.
His Bison are "trying as hard as they can," he said, describing their plight as being outsized and a step slower than the Pirates.
But Palatine's not content with that. They want to speed up.
"We were really bummed," after the Montini loss, said Nawrot. "We just wanted to play our hearts out tonight." And get that swagger back.
"You better believe it," said Donnelly.