Palatine quarterback Zach Oles would fit into any high school football era as a tough, rugged individual.
Oles rushed 14 times for 80 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. He connected on 25 of 30 passes for an even 300 yards including three scoring tosses.
Following the Pirates' 49-13 triumph over host Hoffman Estates in a Mid-Suburban West opener, Oles spoke with humility while praising his teammates.
"My offensive line has done a great job of protecting me this year," said Oles. "It was great to get this first conference win. I can't say enough of the pass protection. It was a great overall team effort."
Basa Balanganayi, Andrew Martino, Carson Walker, Zach Proctor and Ryan Garner gave Oles all the time he needed against an aggressive Hawks defense.
Oles has now completed 68 percent of his passes this year. He has already thrown for 10 touchdowns and 1,117 yards, and he's picked up 296 rushing yards.
"We came in knowing that this would be a tough game," said Oles. "A real dogfight."
For a while, it was.
The Pirates (5-0, 1-0), who became playoff-eligible with the win, scored on the first of Joshua Turner's 3 touchdowns.
Palatine marched 70 yards in 9 plays to score on Oles' 29-yard pass to Turner with 6:52 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Hoffman Estates (4-1, 0-1) came right back on Tyae Grace's 2-yard run with 3:38 left in the quarter.
The Pirates took the lead for good at 14-7 on Courtland Cornelius' 72-yard run on the first play after the ensuing kickoff.
A key offsides penalty against the Hawks put the ball on the 1 after the Pirates were going to try for a field goal. Instead, the offense came out on the field and Oles scored for a 21-7 lead.
"That was a big play," said Hoffman Estates coach Mike Donatucci. "Tonight we took away points from ourselves with penalties and gave them points.
"They did a us a favor by exposing things that we didn't fix during the first four weeks. At times our youth showed up. They have speed and size. The thing is, we're not as bad as we played. We just need to get a win next week."
The Pirates broke the game open in the third quarter as Oles threw an 11-yard pass to Jack Grochowski, who also kicked 7 extra points, with 10:46 left in the quarter.
Palatine's next possession saw Turner run the ball in from the 4 for a 35-10 lead. Turner took a 20-yard pass from Oles with 1:39 left in the quarter for a 42-10 lead.
Cornelius finished the Pirates' scoring with a 44-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Palatine finished with 571 yards of offense.
Konnor Lancor, who'd kicked a 36-yard field goal just before halftime, connected on a 28-yarder late in the game.
"We came out in the second half and did some good things," said Palatine coach Rick Splitt. "We knew that we had to play good, sound defense to beat Hoffman. Donatucci and his staff do a real nice job. We had to make sure we had good matchups on defense. I think we had a great week of practice."
While the defense gave up 282 yards, they gave the Hawks and quarterback Austin Miller-Coalson a tough time. Miller-Coalson was 10 of 20 with his first interception and 128 yards.
Defensive end Mackenzie Balanganayi led the way for the Pirates with 10 tackles, 3 of them for losses.
"We had to play them fast and physical," said Balanganayi. "This was a key game for us, to start off 1-0 in the conference. We didn't start out playing well on defense but as the game went on we started coming together. I studied the films and I felt I could get into their backfield because I saw the ball well tonight."