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Palatine: Best in MSL West
By Dick Quagliano | Daily Herald Correspondent

Palatine’s John Serio fights off a Schaumburg defender on a first-half touchdown run to help the Pirates top Schaumburg 51-18 and clinch an outright championship in the Mid-Suburban West.


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Palatine’s Mike Allen celebrates with the fans and the rest of his teammates after beating Schaumburg for the MSL West title at Palatine High School on Friday.


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 10/20/2012 12:04 AM

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After shaking out the rust last week in his return to the lineup following injury the previous week, Cam Kuksa helped Palatine fire on all cylinders Friday.

Kuksa scored twice on runs as the host Pirates overwhelmed Schaumburg 51-18 to claim the Mid Suburban West title for the second consecutive year.

“Everyone is doing their job and that makes it even easier for me,” said Kuksa, who caught 8 passes for 101 yards. “Ethan (Olles) kept throwing the ball to me in a good spot.”

It was also a huge night for the Pirates QB, Olles. The senior was 28-of-39 for 311 yards and passed Randy Hecklinski in the Palatine record book with 2,329 yards in a season. And with the Pirates figuring to garner a top three seed in their Class 8A state playoff bracket, that number should go much higher.

“I didn’t even know about the record,” Olles said. “I was just focusing on beating Schaumburg.”

Olles and Palatine (8-1, 5-0) were completely dominant in the first half as the Pirates built a 28-0 advantage. Palatine rolled up 19 first downs and 258 yards of offense with Olles going 24-of-30 for 216 yards. Meanwhile, the Pirates defense was stingy, limiting Schaumburg to just 1 first down and 25 yards of offense.

“The kids made some critical plays,” Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly said. “We were motivated and wanted to win it outright.”

Olles capped the Pirates’ opening drive of the game when the Pirates went 65 yards in 13 plays. Ollles, who threw the ball to Kuksa on five of those plays, dove over from the 1 to make it 7-0.

Kuksa again was big for Palatine. He scored on a 9-yard run and then midway through the second quarter to make it 21-0. John Serio’s 1-yard run with just under 10 seconds left in the first half put the finishing touch on a nearly perfect half for the Pirates.

“I thought we played pretty well in the first half,” Donnelly said. “I thought it was a great test for us.”

Schaumburg (7-2, 3-2) regained some momentum at the start of the second half when Juwaan Richard returned the kickoff 86 yards to the Palatine 12. Three plays later Stacey Smith connected with Cole Reyes on a 9-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-6.

Serio scored his second touchdown of the night, again from 1 yard out, to make it 35-6 with 3:49 left in the third quarter.

The teams then exchanged fumble recoveries that turned into touchdowns.

Luke Gruszka picked up a fumble from teammate Sadarriss Patterson and returned it 36 yards as the Saxons made it 35-12. But Palatine’s Sam Miller fell on a fumble in the end zone early in the fourth quarter as the Pirated defense, which forced 4 turnovers, got in the scoring action.

“We had great schemes by our defensive coordinator,” said Palatine safety Jesse Bobbit, who along with Dan Riddle, Luke Rago, Tom McHugh, Josh Baldus, Kevin Riggs and Serio held Schaumburg’s starting offense to 4 first downs 80 yards.

“They have three very good runners. We knew we had to contain them to win.”

After a 26-yard field goal by Palatine’s Kevin Hilmer, both backup quarterbacks came up with scoring runs. Palatine’s James Pittman ran 10 yards for a touchdown while Gruszka raced 56 yards.

“They came out with a swagger,” Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling said. “I felt that we waited to respond. You can’t give them a 24-minute head start.”