Fremd's picks do in Palatine
Fremd picked out its black jerseys and then picked off Palatine Friday night in the annual "Battle of the Tracks".
Fremd returned two of its 4 interceptions for touchdowns as the Vikings bounced the crosstown rival Pirates 28-10 in the Mid-Suburban West.
Fremd coach Lou Sponsel went to the closet and pulled out the Vikings' black jerseys, which they have not worn since 2015.
"I just had a feeling our team needed to take the edge off," Sponsel said. "It's Homecoming and we are playing Palatine so there were a lot of nerves. So we just wanted to change the focus."
It appeared to work for Fremd. Sort of.
Fremd (4-2, 2-0) ran 34 plays to Palatine's 10 and had outgained the Pirates 162-5 late in the first quarter, but led just 2-0 on a safety off a snap that went through the end zone.
Fremd also fumbled twice, including once at the goal line. The Vikes also had a touchdown called back on a penalty and missed a field goal.
The Vikings fumbled a third time, just before the half and Palatine (1-5, 0-2) took advantage of it. The Pirates moved the ball to the 2-yard line where Caleb Runge connected on a 20-yard field goal to give Palatine a baseball-like 3-2 lead at the half.
"We didn't say anything to the kids at halftime," Sponsel said. "They knew what they had to do and they came out and did it."
Ryan Palmer got things started with a 40-yard kickoff return. Jack Hipchen would then catch an 11-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Saxe to put the Vikings up 8-3.
Hipchen continued the Fremd turnaround when he jumped a Palatine passing route and after picking off the pass, returned it 21 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-3.
"Our defense had been playing well the whole game," said Hipchen, who would pick off another pass later. "We just flipped the switch in the second half. It as a big momentum changer for us."
Fremd's momentum was at full speed now. And Trey Castella turned it up even higher.
Castella also jumped a route just three plays after the following kickoff and the junior scampered 38 yards for the Vikings' second pick-six and a 21-3 lead.
"All week the coaches have been telling me to take my drops," said Castella, who also had a second interception late in the fourth quarter. "I thought our defense played a good game today."
Palatine, which had struggled on offense for most of the game, put together its only scoring drive of the game. Ronald Todd scored on a 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter. It was set up by a 40-yard catch by Luka Popovich from Joe Ayala.
Palmer ended any Palatine thoughts of a comeback when he returned the ensuing kickoff to the Palatine 17. Saxe, who finished with 89 rushing yards behind the blocking of Will Stearney, Logan Bayer, Marlon Martinez, Joe Nowakowski, Jack Walsh, Zack Wascow and Brian Clay, scored on a 3-yard run to close out the scoring.
"We are just undisciplined," Palatine coach Corey Olson said. "We gave up a safety and two pick-sixes. Fremd prepared well for us."