Palatine picks its spots at Fremd
On a night of tough, hard-hitting defensive efforts by both teams, some opportunistic offense helped Palatine win at Fremd.
Sparked by a long touchdown run by senior Jack Orlando and a clutch TD catch from classmate Johnny O'Shea on the final play of the first half, the Pirates won 28-14 in the Mid-Suburban West.
Palatine was able to overcome a late 14-point fourth-quarter rally by the Vikings.
"We made some big plays," said Pirates coach Corey Olson, "and I thought our defense did a great job of getting the ball back for us."
"Our whole offensive line stepped it up," said Palatine senior lineman Manny Juarez.
Palatine took a14- point lead in the first half on a 1-yard plunge by Jake Moertl, then a 71-yard TD run down the sideline by Orlando.
The Pirates made it 21-0 on final play before halftime when O'Shea caught a 3-yard TD pass from DJ Angelaccio in the back of the end zone.
"That was huge," said Moertl of the O'Shea grab. "Having our offense punch it in and go into halftime with momentum helped us."
The third quarter was all defense, as first linebacker Cortez Hogans of Palatine made a huge third-down stop behind the line of scrimmage to stymie a Fremd drive.
Meanwhile, Fremd senior defensive lineman Jake Fleming, linebacker Luke Bilek and their teammates were were holding Palatine in check.
Then the Vikings' offense and quarterback Andrew Saxe came alive in the fourth quarter.
Saxe threw 2 touchdowns to senior wide receiver Ben Konopka, the first coming when Konopka leaped high in the air and tiptoed the sideline to grab the TD pass just inside the flag.
Konopka's second touchdown was a pitch and catch, as the senior made a nice cutback and outraced the Palatine defense to the end zone.
"In the second half we found a couple things," said Fremd coach Lou Sponsel. "Our coaches did a good job making some adjustments, our kids fought and they did a good job of handling those adjustments."
A late 34-yard touchdown run up the middle from Moertl helped put the game away for the Pirates.
"Our kids wanted it in a bad way," said Olson, "and they went out and took it. Credit Fremd -- they fought from the beginning to the end of the game as we knew they would.
"Our kids -- our seniors -- when you have a crosstown rivalry like this, it's whether or not your seniors are going to get it done. They got it done tonight and I'm very proud of them."
Orlando finished with 114 yards rushing for Palatine, while Saxe had 170 yards through the air for Fremd.
"Our kids fought hard," said Sponsel. "We were just beaten by a better team tonight. It was evident in the first half -- we talked, and of the 11 matchups on the field, I don't think we won any."