It might be a good idea to check the big scoreboard at Barrington Community Stadium on Friday morning, just to ensure that everything is still working properly. Because the MSL West showdown that night between undefeated the Barrington and Palatine football teams will surely test all the moving parts.
Host Barrington (7-0, 3-0) comes into the game boasting an offense that is averaging nearly 41 points. The Broncos' vaunted running game led by linemen Nick Bart, John Stefan, Mark Bach, Brad Warman and Eric Padilla is generating more than 350 yards per game.
"We are very comfortable running the ball," said Barrington coach Joe Sanchez.
The Broncos lean heavily on running back Logan Moews, who has rushed for 1,029 yards, and quarterback Ray Niro, who has run for 1,009.
Barrington can also throw it, with Niro completing 62 percent of his passes (63 of 104) for 859 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Palatine (7-0, 3-0) is not a slouch on the offensive side, either. The Pirates are averaging 38 points and over 425 yards of offense.
Palatine has a more balanced attack and is led by quarterback Zach Oles, who has thrown for 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Oles has a pair of huge weapons in 6-foot-5 wide receivers Jack Grochowski, who has 27 catches for 502 yards, and Johnny O'Shea, who has 31 receptions for 437 yards. Slot receiver Courtland Cornelius has also been dangerous with 23 catches for 285 yards.
Oles, who has picked up 393 yards rushing this season, had been the main focus on the ground for the Pirates until recently. Josh Turner has developed into a solid running back for the Pirates and taken a ton of pressure off of Oles; Turner has gained 545 yards thus far.
Within the MSL, the Palatine-Barrington buzz began before the season began. And it is reaching a crescendo this week as a playoff-like atmosphere should be in full force.
Not only is the the MSL West title at stake, but also postseason positioning. The winning team could be a top-four seed, while the loser, which could have just 1 loss, could still drop to the middle of the pack in a very competitive Class 8A bracket.
Palatine has won the MSL West the last two seasons, with wins over Barrington sealing the deal for the Pirates. The Pirates have also dominated Barrington in recent years, winning 8 of the last 9 meetings.
Both teams have shown their mettle with victories over conference rivals Fremd and a strong Hoffman Estates team. Barrington also posted a convincing win over Maine South, while Palatine had nonconference victories over Stevenson and New Trier.
"We are looking forward to another great game," Palatine coach Rick Splitt said.
Although the expectation is for a high-scoring game, both defenses have performed well this season.
Palatine, which is led by McKenzie Balanganayi, Jake Moertl, Scotty Elter and Corrtez Hogans, has allowed just 95 points this season.
Barrington, which has received strong play from Jackson Perkins, Blake Holley, Ryan Bornhofen, Luke Coon, Michael Stodola, Tanner Lang and Alec Andrea, allowed just 84 points through its first six games. But the Broncos, who played last week mostly without Perkins due to an injury, gave up 41 points last week to Hoffman Estates.