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Serio keeps Palatine grounded in win
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/3/2011 1:38 AM

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Last week, the Rolling Meadows football team showed how dangerous it could be with an aerial attack that produced 493 yards.

Friday night, the Mustangs saw how dominant Palatine can be with its ground game.

Led by junior running back John Serio's 229-yard performance on 36 carries and 3 touchdowns and another 128 yards and 1 touchdown from junior quarterback Ethan Olles, the Pirates (1-1) jumped ahead late in the first quarter and never looked back in a 30-13 Mid-Suburban League crossover triumph at Rolling Meadows (1-1).

"We got down early and they were able to pound the ball down the field (458 rushing yards)," said Mustangs coach Matt Mishler. "They kept our offense off the field and that was the story of the game."

"They've (Meadows) got some really good athletes," said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly. "To give up only 13 points, I thought that was pretty good. We tried to bend and not break on defense."

With defensive backs Jake Demars and Cam Kuksa (big fourth-quarter interception) and lineman Nick Novelli contributing some big plays, the Pirates' defense was able to contain the speedy Mustangs' offense.

"After they put up 50 points on the board last week (50-49 win over York), we knew the defense had to step up," Olles said while standing next to Serio. "And this guy (Serio) never stopped on offense. But the big thing was the offensive line."

Serio was quick to send kudos to that group as well.

"We were running strong right with five people, and they (linemen Dan Jeske, Tyler Sydlowski, C.J. Machnik, Layne Kirch, Nathan Gerdes and Josh Baldus) were producing big holes."

Serio's 4-yard TD run with 1:34 left in the first quarter capped a 66-yard march after the Pirates recovered a Meadows' fumble.

Kevin Hilmer's 25-yard field goal made it 10-0 early in the second quarter.

"I was afraid of what would happen if they got ahead early," Mishler added. "I think they have a fantastic offensive line. That was very evident. They were more physical than us."

Olles used that line to burst up the left side for a 74-yard run and 16-0 lead on third play from scrimmage in the second half.

Meadows got on the board when Jack Milas (32-for-40, 214 yards) hit Artie Checchin (2 TDs, 135 yards) for a 26-yard pass with 8:10 left in the third quarter.

But Palatine answered with a 66-yard TD drive, capped by Serio's 6-yard run.

Cheechin caught another TD pass of 10 yards from Milas with 3:34 left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 23-13.

The Mustangs' defense stopped a Palatine drive at their 4 with 8:06 to play. But Kuksa came right back up an interception to give the Pirates the ball at the Mustangs' 36.

Five plays later, Serio scored on a 17-yard run to cap the scoring.