Palatine routs Schaumburg to set up Week 9 showdown
Next weekend under the Friday Night Lights of Chic Anderson Stadium on the campus of Palatine High School, Palatine and Hoffman Estates will settle the MSL West Division title for the second straight fall.
Only this time it will be a winner-take-all bout between the Pirates and Hawks as opposed to last season when Palatine split the crown when it defeated Hoffman.
The stage was set by both squads taking care of road business Friday as the Pirates (7-1, 4-0) topped Schaumburg in a 41-6 triumph, while the Hawks (6-2, 4-0) won at Fremd 42-25.
"All week our coaches were saying don't take the cheese which means don't be the mouse in the trap. So practice all week was laser-focused and it showed in the game," Palatine junior RB Dominik Ball said after a constant shower soaked the playing surface at Gary Scholz Stadium as well as those in attendance.
That focus from the Pirates was of a high-beam setting from the opening kickoff that was returned 55 yards by Thomas Coroneos. That set up the first of two TD runs by Nate Branch via direct snap two plays later from three yards out that give the visitors a 7-0 lead just 22 seconds in.
Ball (7 carries, 124 yards) earned one of his two trips to pay dirt on a 22-yard catch from Tommy Elter. After Branch's second TD jaunt from a yard out that expanded the Palatine advantage to 20-0 with 5:48 left in the second, Ball found open space that led to a 75-yard touchdown that coupled with an Elter two-point conversion toss to Conner May made it 28-0 with 3:11 left until the break.
A 48-yard Rocco Paddack punt return for six with 64 seconds left in the first half and a 1-yard T.J. Luckett run on Palatine's opening possession of the second half made it a 41-0 lead with 6:40 left in the third.
The Saxons (3-5, 1-3) got on the board on the following possession when sophomore Anthony DiGioia scored on a 9-yard TD jaunt at the 3:12 mark of the quarter.
Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling, whose unit has faced both teams over the past two Fridays, gave an assessment of both squads.
"Both teams are extremely talented and they both play extremely hard," Stilling said. "It'll be a heck of football game."
For Palatine coach Corey Olson, it's been about paying homage to his 33 seniors whose leadership and guidance has laid a foundation for this season's success.
"Our team goes as they go. We have got a great group and they have their eye on something," Olson said. "We're going to get (a chance) to play for it next week, and we're so excited for the opportunity."