Dan Riddle has been pestering the Palatine coaching staff about returning kickoffs.
"I almost had one last year, so I wanted to try it again," Riddle said. "I have been bugging them about it, so they put me back there."
Riddle answered his coaches' queries by returning the opening kickoff 88 yards, and Palatine never looked back from there as the Pirates rolled past visiting Hersey 49-14 Friday in a Mid-Suburban League crossover at Chic Anderson Stadium.
"Riddle got us off to a great start," said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly, whose Pirates upped their record to 3-1.
"We spread the ball out a lot offensively. And we played well even without (Jesse) Bobbitt and (Cam) Kuksa."
Bobbit, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury and Kuksa, who is hoping to return from a broken ankle, watched as the Pirates scored the first five times they had the ball to lead 35-14 at the half. The Pirates again used great ball distribution as they piled up 512 yards of offense.
"We have a lot of people who can do a lot of things with the ball," said Palatine quarterback Ethan Olles, who finished 20-of-34 passing for 324 yards and 2 touchdowns. "Every game it seems like a different person is standing out. Overall it is the offensive line that gets us going."
Hersey (1-3) stayed close with the Pirates early, closing to 7-6 on a 7-yard run by Quinn Orlandi on the Huskies' first series on offense.
Palatine then took control for good.
John Serio broke off a 20-yard touchdown run and Olles scampered 39 yards on the final play of the first quarter to make it 20-7. Serio also added a touchdown on a 2-yard run with 5:44 left in the first half to make it 27-6.
Hersey, which got a strong passing performance from Orlandi (28 of 40, 235 yards) closed to 27-14 on a 13-yard pass from Orlandi to Jim Olsen and a conversion pass from Orlandi to Hunter Rollins.
But Palatine's offense, operating behind Josh Baldus, Tyler Sydlowski, Brad Wallis, Cody Oversen and Justin Roberts, was like a well-oiled machine. The Pirates scored with 50.1 seconds left in the half as Olles passed 14 yards to Alex Nawrot. Serio then threw to Ryan Gronwick for the conversion, and the Pirates were on their way.
"Ethan was just trying to find whoever was open -- luckily, it was me," said Nawrot, who had 9 catches for 144 yards.
Palatine got a pair of second-half touchdowns to close out the scoring. Eric Theis took a bubble screen 93 yards for one touchdown and Nawrot scored on a 13-yard run for the other.
Hersey coach Dragan Teonic was pleased with his team's effort despite the loss.
"I think we definitely grew up today," Teonic said. "We made some progress today. Our kids played real hard today and we did lots of good things out there today."