Palatine rolls past Hoffman to share MSL West crown
It was all about the finish for Palatine. The Pirates, who came into Friday's game with Hoffman Estates needing a win to gain a share of the Mid-Suburban West title, put the pedal down and blew past the Hawks 43-13 in Palatine.
With the win, Palatine (6-3, 4-1) not only gained a share of the conference title, but moved up significantly in the seedings for the state playoffs. Those pairings will be announced Saturday evening.
"We knew we had to finish," Palatine coach Corey Olson said. "We talked about it at the beginning of the year -- that we wanted to win conference and make the playoffs. We got those two goals. It's awesome."
The offensive line of Tony Machado, Israel Juarez, Jhermari Mabry, Dylan Sang and Jack Conforti, did a terrific job of controlling the front for the Pirates. That enabled a Palatine to run 36 plays to Hoffman's 14 plays in the first half.
"We came out here and wanted to win the game so we could win conference," Machado said. "At the beginning of the season, we didn't know who was going to start on the line. But we have come together and played better and better."
However, that dominance did not transfer over to the scoreboard as Palatine led 15-7 at the half.
"Our offensive line has got better every week," Olson said. "The truth was that at the beginning of the year, it was a concern and now it has become a strength."
Palatine had taken a 6-0 lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Grant Dersnah to Nate Branch. The conversion kick was blocked.
Hoffman Estates (7-2, 4-1), which had not scored in its last two meetings with Palatine, changed that quickly. Aidan Cyr (7-of-17, 139 yards) connected with Stephon Sellers on a 68-yard touchdown pass. The conversion kick gave the Hawks a 7-6 lead.
Bobby Widlowski kicked a 23-yard field goal and Dersnah scored on a 1-yard run as the Pirates increased their lead to 15-7. They had an opportunity to add to that just before the half, but an interception by Hoffman's Kylan Blue at the Hawks' 2-yard line just before the end of the half, ended that threat.
Palatine put the finishing touches on Hoffman in the second half. With Dominick Ball (20 carries, 186 yards) running behind the offensive line, Palatine again was able to control the action.
"That wasn't even me," Ball said. "That was my offensive line. The blocks, everything was crazy good. We came into this game wanting to be conference champions and we were able to do that."
Dersnah had a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 22-7.
The Pirate defense, which smothered Hoffman's offense most of the evening, then got into the act. Mitch Larkin made a one-handed interception and then returned it 7 yards for a touchdown. Dersnah's 2-point run made it 30-7.
"We knew we had to come out and get them up against the ropes," said Larkin, who along with Mabry, Joe Wagner, Widlowski, JD Wardle and Tommy Houser, stymied Hoffman all evening.
"That's what we needed. As soon as we had them down, that's when we knew we had them."
Dersnah (17-of-20, 180 yards) would then connect with Branch on a 61-yard touchdown pass and TJ Lucket to close out the scoring for Palatine.
Hoffman added a late touchdown on a 31-yard pass from Nate Frank to Sellers.
"It happens, hopefully we got this out of our system," Hoffman coach Tim Heyse said. "Everyone is hyping us up, hyping us up. Hopefully we learned. We lost our first game of the season and came back and played well after that."