Barrington routs Palatine to secure playoff bid

 
By Howard Schlossberg
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/20/2018 12:04 AM
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The Barrington football team that started the season with three wins is back.

The Broncos found themselves the last three weeks, winning their third in a row Friday night, finishing the regular season with a 42-21 win at home over Palatine. And while the Broncos are wondering who they'll get next week in the IHSA playoffs, they know they have to keep up the style and energy that went into their regular season-ending winning streak.

"The script wasn't written the way this went," said Broncos coach Joe Sanchez, taking his 6-3 Broncos (3-2 in the Mid-Suburban West) to the playoffs for the sixth straight year. But after losing 3 in a row and slipping to 3-3, "They kept fighting," he said. "I'm very proud of the kids."

With good reason. Quarterback Tommy Fitzpatrick directed the read/option offense with precision, much of that supplied by Michael Curran's 108-yard, 4-touchdown performance.

Barrington took advantage of two Palatine miscues to build a 28-7 halftime lead, getting great field position after Palatine squibbed a snap on a punt and gave up the ball at its own 30 and then got stuffed on a 4th-and-1 on Mark Di Lorio's tackle for loss with 40 seconds left at its own 40. Fitzpatrick hit Michael Bedard for a TD after the latter to close the first half and Curran scored on a 9-yard run after the former.

After adding scores on runs of 5 and 31 yards in the second half, Curran had nothing but praise for his teammates, especially his offensive line and his quarterback.

"They were amazing tonight," he said of Niko Nutrombis, Matt Berry, Trevor Stratejcruk, Ray Schmitz and Sam Butera. As for Fitzpatrick, the junior signalcaller, Curran said, "He's improving every week on his reads."

Sanchez had the same praise for his coaches, Andy Farrissey, Mike Staudt and coordinator Bill Helzer on the defensive side and former Lake Zurich quarterback Todd Kuklinski on the offensive side for helping get the team out of its funk and back on the winning track.

"The credit goes to our coaches. I'm proud of them," said the MSL's longest-tenured coach.

Palatine, for its part, save for the two fourth-down snafus, might have been able to put some pressure on Barrington. The Pirates played like anything but a 1-8 team, 0-5 in the division.

"They play hard," said head coach Corey Olson, who got good performances out of alternating quarterbacks Zac Garnmeister (5-for-13 for 75 yards and 2 TDs) and Jake Gronwick (20 carries, 74 yards). Sophomore running back Ronald Todd, four returning starters on the offensive line and three key sophomore starters returning on defense give him optimism for next year.

Garnmeister hit Luka Popovic for a TD and Ben Storm for another in his final start for the Pirates.

Now, it's all eyes forward for Barrington. "We just have to keep up that tempo," Curran said.

"We're excited about the opportunity," to be in the playoffs, said Sanchez

•Friday's game featured the debut of a new high-definition video board more than three times larger than the previous display. Sponsorships totaling $650,000 obtained through a private fundraising campaign were used for the new main score and video board located in Barrington Community Stadium's south end zone.

While the main board's time and score functions have been operating since the Broncos' football season began in August, fans have been anticipating the Daktronics 373-square-foot, HD screen for game video and information. The new screen, rivaling what's found at small colleges, is more than triple the size of the old 109-square-foot display.

Bob Susnjara contributed to this report

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