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This group of Pirates was special
By Ryan O’Gara | Daily Herald Correspondent

It’s a sad moment for Palatine’s Lucas Rago and his senior teammates as a memorable four years of football comes to an end in the Class 8A quarterfinals at Loyola.


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/10/2012 10:25 PM

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They may have walked off the turf of Hoerster Field at Sachs Stadium on the wrong end of a 19-7 decision against Loyola in the Class 8A quarterfinal, but that’s not the way that Palatine’s senior class will be remembered.

When this senior class stepped on the field for the first time together as freshmen, they knew they would be good.

In fact, they knew it even earlier.

“We knew when we were in eighth grade that we were going to be something special,” said three-year starter Josh Baldus. “We knew when we got to high school, we weren’t going to be beat. We still had to get bigger and stronger and put in the work, but we knew.”

Along with Baldus, Jesse Bobbit, Lucas Rago, Dan Riddle and John Serio were up as sophomores and part of a team that reached the 8A quarterfinals.

Adding Cam Kuksa and Ethan Olles to the mix in 2011 produced only better results with a 9-2 season.

And that core group were the leaders in helping Palatine (10-2) reach double-digit wins this season for the first time since 1997.

“It’s been real fun,” Kuksa said. “We’ve been together all of our lives. We thought this was the year, but we didn’t execute well.”

In all, Palatine has gone an astounding 16-0 against the rest of the Mid-Suburban League over the last two seasons with two outright West championships.

“Special group,” said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly. “It’s a group that you get once in a long, long time. And not just athletically. There’s a bond, and you see how tough they are.”

There were plenty of unsung heroes like Nick Grimes and Sam Miller pressuring the quarterback, Ryan Gronwick serving as a reliable possession receiver, Kevin Hilmer booting extra points, Cody Oversen, Tyler Sydlowski and Justin Roberts providing protection up front and Mike Allen doing a little bit of everything.

The 32 seniors on this season’s roster will be difficult to replace.

“Now that it’s all over, we’re going to have these memories for the rest of our lives,” Riddle said.