Palatine's football team was struggling to find its rhythm offensively this season. But the Pirates were in perfect synch Friday as they rolled past Hoffman Estates 30-7 in a Mid-Suburban West regular-season finale between two playoff-bound teams.
"Change is never easy, and sometimes it takes a while to go where you want to go," said Palatine coach Corey Olson, who is in his first year leading the program. "Tonight our football team came together. Bottom line is that Palatine High School plays its best football in October."
And even though the Pirates finish the season 6-3, they way the Pirates looked on Friday, it is bad news for the rest of the 8A field. That field and the pairings will be announced by the Illinois High School Association on Saturday night.
"Credit our seniors," said Olson. "They are doing a great job. But at the end of the day, it is the scout team that has really prepared us."
Also looked prepared was quarterback DJ Angelaccio, who threw for 232 yards and rushed for 4 touchdowns.
"It wasn't me so much as it was the offensive line (Carson Walker, Manny Juarez, Eddie Orozco, Andreas Rivas and Basa Balanganayi) that let me walk into the end zone," Angelaccio said. They are really cranking themselves out there."
Angelaccio, who struggled earlier this season throwing the football, made solid decisions all night and finished 19-of-25.
"I think I am trusting myself more, " Angelaccio said. "I am staying more inside the pocket and trying not to escape more. I am dropping back trusting the line and if the first read is not open, I am looking for the second or third."
Senior receiver Johnny O'Shea, who had 4 catches for 62 yards and also drew a pair of pass interference penalties from Hoffman Estates, said that once the offense found its way, things clicked quickly.
"We have preached in practice that we need to play our best football at the end of the season," said O'Shea, a three-year starter for the Pirates. "I think we started a little slow and our defense sustained us. Our offense then connected and we kept going and going."
It was still scoreless until midway through the second quarter, when Palatine produced an 11-play, 65-yard drove that was helped along by a pass interference penalty. Angelaccio scored on a 1-yard run to make it 7-0 with 5:52 left in the first half.
Hoffman Estates (7-2, 3-2), which is enjoying its best season in nearly 20 years, came right back. Austin Coalson threw a perfect 42-yard touchdown pass to Jayvon Blissett to tie it at 7-7.
Palatine answered with another scoring drive. This one was also helped along by a pass interference and a 24-yard passing play from Angelaccio to Jack Orlando. Angelaccio scored on a 3-yard run to make it 14-7.
Palatine broke the game open in the third quarter when it allowed Hoffman Estates to run just three offensive plays and forced 2 turnovers.
Palatine took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched the ball 54 yards in 14 plays, using up nearly five minutes. Angelaccio powered over from the 1 to make it 20-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hoffman fumbled and Brennan Hardin came up with the ball for the Pirates. Six plays later, Angelaccio tallied for the fourth time, this one a 2-yard run to make it 27-7.
Hoffman Estates then tuned the ball over again on its first play from scrimmage when O'Shea made a diving interception. That turned into a 24-yard field goal by Caleb Runge and the rout was on.
The Palatine defense led by Cortez Hogans, Luke Stoffel, Bryant Smith, Josh Danielson, Jake Moertl, O'Shea and Isiah Lewis allowed just 2 second-half first downs.
"We were laying some wood," said Hogans, who looked fully recovered from his early season injury. "We started off a bit slow, but we came back and hit, hit, hit."
Moertl helped anchor a secondary that limited the high-powered Hoffman offense to just 76 passing yards.
"We came into this week knowing it was a big week," Moertl said. "We could go 5-4 or we could go 6-3 and make a statement. We preached all week to come out fast and we did."
Hoffman, which came into the game with some injuries to its offensive line, looks to bounce back next week in the playoffs.
"We got a little banged up last week," Hoffman Estates coach Tim Heyse said. "We had some juniors who had not played at all in some spots and it was an eye-opener for them. I am not worried. We will get back to the drawing board and back to work."