Scouting Palatine: Pirates plot a powerful depth charge

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/17/2018 3:32 PM
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  • Jake Gronwick is among the few returning starters at Palatine, but an abundance of depth has the Pirates hoping for another powerful season.

      Jake Gronwick is among the few returning starters at Palatine, but an abundance of depth has the Pirates hoping for another powerful season. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Palatine's football team has lost most of its stars. But that doesn't mean this year's squad will lack power.

True, the Pirates return just two starters from last season, when they went 7-4 and lost in the second round of the state playoffs to Edwardsville is what now is known as the "Johnny O'Shea game."

But despite all the graduations, Palatine coach Corey Olson remains upbeat.

"Summer was great," Palatine coach Corey Olson said. "The kids did a nice job. We have a lot of jobs to fill, but I think we are in pretty good shape."

Olson has that feeling because the Pirates have 77 players out for his team this season. With those numbers, he expects battles for every position on the field. Olson also expects to be a true two-platoon team.

"The superstars we had, we really don't have those kind of players now," Olson said. "But we have much better depth than we had."

That advantage could pay huge dividends for the Pirates. With many area teams stretched on their depth chart, it only takes and injury or two to quickly change a team's fortunes. Not so at Palatine.

"We are not robbing Peter to pay Paul on either side," Olson said. "We are 100 percent at two-platoon. With our numbers, we are able to do that."

Nowhere is that depth more significant than at the defensive line for the Pirates. Cory Robinson, Anthony Maldonado, Javier Barerra, Ricky Orozco, Charlie Hopper, Peter Russchenberg, Mossimo Vardimoskos, Ulysses Peralta, D'Mauriea Rogers, Miguel Rocha and Asad Stewart all figure to see time based upon down and distance.

It is not much different at linebacker where Brennan Harkin, Isaiah Lewis, Tommy Cicciu, Brandon Hernandez, Giovanni Jackson, Zack Hughes and Josh Hiller will be doing likewise.

Defensive back is the only part of the defense which is more settled, and that isn't by much. Warren Hunt, Jared Wright, Jaded Rasheed and Jordan Schwarts will be at corner with Tyler Perryman, Eric Pecson and Tyler Pecson at safety.

"There will be lots of guys who need to pay attention both on the sidelines and on the field," Olson said. "But we like this rotation of players."

On the offensive side of the ball, the Pirates return two-plus starters.

Monster tackle David Balanganayi (6-4, 300) returns to anchor the offensive line. Wide receiver Jake Gronwick and Marshawn Rayford will also be back. But from there, it is a whole new offense.

The Pirates have a battle at quarterback. It features senior Zach Garnmeister, who transferred from crosstown rival Fremd after his parents moved to the other side of town, and sophomore Joe Ayala, whose family moved to Palatine from Morris before the start of his freshman year.

The wide receiver corps will feature Gronwick and Rayford. The Pirates will also look to junior Luke Popovic, who has shown he can go get the ball when needed, and Jake Dreksler.

"This is a formable group that can get the job done," Olson said. "It is just a matter of getting them the ball."

At running back, it appears it would be by committee to begin the season. Darryl Garner and promising sophomore Ronald Todd along with Daevin Diaz and Jakob Bey all should be seeing carries.

The offensive line is large but inexperienced, except for Balanganayi. Andrew Oles (5-11 234), Dan Walsh (6-2, 262), Brian Fernandez (5-11, 265), Sam Russchenberg (6-2, 235) and Nathan Cwiakala (6-1, 258) will all be up front. Russchenberg may also play some fullback for the Pirates.

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