Ball, defense spark Palatine's win over Fremd
Big stops on defense, and Dominick Ball running wild on offense.
That was the recipe for a Palatine victory Friday night at Fremd.
Led by 3 touchdowns and 245 yards rushing from Ball, a sophomore, the Pirates defeated the Vikings 31-16 in the Mid-Suburban West.
"(Ball) is a guy who is as explosive as anybody in the state of Illinois," said Palatine coach Corey Olson. "When you see the speed that he has, that's pretty exciting."
With their fifth victory (the Pirates are 5-3 overall), are almost assured of a spot in this year's postseason.
"Our kids were obviously very motivated," said Olson. "To be able to come over here to Fremd and clinch a playoff spot, that's a big thing. It's always tough playing against them. They come out and play hard and they're a tough group of kids. They gave us quite a game and that's a tribute to their staff and their kids."
The Palatine defense was able to come up with some clutch first-half stops on third down, and big plays by Pirates defenders Tommy Houser, Nick Gawaluch and Kam Lewis in the first two quarters helped stop Fremd drives.
On offense, Ball scored on runs of 14 and 65 yards before intermission. Teammate Mitch Larkin caught a 63-yard touchdown, while Fremd countered with a field goal and a 16-yard touchdown toss from Calden Suchy to Archie Cox.
Ball scampered down the right sideline for a 61-yard scoring run on the first play after halftime to make the score 28-10, then the Pirates' defense came up with their biggest moment of the game.
Fremd drove to the Palatine 1-yard line and had three tries to punch it in, but the Pirates "D" stood tall, stopping the Vikings and taking over on downs.
Sophomore Filip Rolek led the defensive charge.
"Filip is a kid who's gotten better every day," said Olson, "and that goal-line stand was a tribute to our defensive line. Rolek, Tommy Houser, and Jhermari Mabry, those guys were dominating the line of scrimmage."
Fremd was able to close the gap early in the fourth quarter on another TD catch by Cox, this one from 14 yards out.
But on the ensuing possession, Palatine was able to use up over 7 minutes of clock -- with Ball rushing 10 consecutive times, resulting in a field goal with under 2 minutes left.
Then the Pirates' defense got another turnover on downs to complete the win.
"This is a resilient team," said Olson of his squad. "We've had to dig ourselves out of a couple of holes. We started 1-2, beat Maine South and Schaumburg, but then we lost a game (to Conant) to put ourselves in jeopardy.
"Then we came out and beat Barrington, and now here we are with five wins. We have some tough kids, and this stuff really matters to them. They're hard workers and we have a great group of seniors."