The Palatine Express kept rolling toward an outright Mid-Suburban West football championship Friday. The Pirates (7-1, 4-0 MSL West) scored their first shutout of the season, blanking Hoffman Estates 32-0 at Chic Anderson Stadium for their seventh win in a row.
With at least a share of the West title already in their pocket, the Pirates (7-1, 4-0) host Conant in the regular-season finale and then look for a favorable seeding in the playoffs.
"We're playing for the outright championship, but the big picture is getting a seed and a guaranteed home game in the playoffs," Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly said.
Hoffman, coming off its best offensive game of the season with 42 points against Schaumburg last week, moved the ball but penalties and turnovers, which plagued the Hawks (0-8, 0-4) all season, came back to bite them again.
A delay of game penalty on a fourth-and-3 on Palatine's 19 derailed Hoffman's first scoring threat. Adding injury to insult, last week's top rusher Alex Proskey left the game after his first carry with a knee injury and didn't return.
Three plays later, Ethan Olles found Cam Kuksa 10 yards downfield, and Kuksa did the rest, following his blockers and then breaking loose for a 76-yard touchdown.
A three-and-out followed by a short punt gave the Pirates great field position, and they drove 39 yards in three carries, with Kuksa scoring on a 17-yard run at the 1:44 mark.
"The blocking was great," Kuksa said. "(Fullback) Andrew Pecson and (linemen) Nathan Gerdes, Layne Kirch, Dan Jeske, Cody Oversen, Justin Roberts and Tyler Sydlowski did a great job blocking all night."
Linebacker/wide receiver Kurt Becker killed another Hoffman threat with an interception. The Pirates drove 81 yards in 13 plays, and Lucas Rago scored on a 3-yard run with 5:00 left in the half to make it a 20-0 game.
Palatine scored once in both the third and fourth quarters. Olles scored on a 6-yard run on Palatine's first possession of the second half.
Becker got behind the Hoffman defense for the final score, a 29-yard pass from Olles (8-of-18 for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns) with 5:06 left in the game.
"The safety bit on the other receiver, and I got open," Becker said.
Hoffman quarterback Jordan Hudak completed 20 of 29 passes for 130 yards. He and Jared Bruemmer both rushed for 56 yards.
"This has been the story of our season," Hoffman coach Bill Helzer said. "The kids played hard. We just couldn't get the big play."