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Pirates win title with injuries


Pirates win title with injuries

By Tashara Parker
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Its been 16 years since the Palatine Pirates took home two consecutive Mid Suburban West titles. And on Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 the host Pirates made history once again with an overwhelming shut out of Schaumburg 51-18, crowning themselves once again the Mid Suburban West conference champs.

Being the first team to do this was pretty exciting, I mean some of our team wasnt even born yet, chuckled wide receiver Cam Kuksa. We just followed our offensive strategy and spread the ball as much as we could.

Not only was history made by the team, but Pirates QB Ethan Olles set his own record in the Palatine history books surpassing Randy Hecklinski with 2,329 yards.

Olles said he didnt even know about the record, but its definitely cool to have received the recognition.

Perhaps the biggest story here is the fact that the Pirates ended with an 8-1 season, while many of their key play-makers suffered from injuries for many of the games.

We had a lot of people step up, Eric Theis has been huge this year, the QB added. 

Two of their key defensive and offensive players (Jesse Bobbit and Kuska) were out several games this season. Jesse Bobbit missed the first two games and delivered an outstanding performance when he returned during the third week against Elk Grove.

Bobbit said it didnt feel good sitting on the sideline, but watching the team grow was great. We didnt even know we had as much depth as we have, so I enjoyed helping the guys out and it was fun.

Kuska was out with injuries for the first seven games of the season -- returning against Barrington and looking as if he never missed a step as he connected with Olles on eight passes for 102 yards.

It seems as if the Pirates battled through the trenches even without many of their key components. We had a lot of kids coming back from last years team and I think thats why we were able to weather the storm, said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly referring to their 8-1 season.

A state title has never been accomplished at Palatine, and thats something were looking forward to accomplish our last year said Olles.

The guys are all back together and the team is healthier than ever moving into the postseason. On Saturday, the Pirates will face off against an opponent that theyve never played before -- Niles West, a team that wants to advance to the second round as much as Palatine does.

We know this team has a lot of talent -- no questions, but weve got to execute on all sides of the ball and all phases of the game -- if we do that, then weve got a shot, coach Donnelly added.

Nerds in Sports Podcast: Being a 'professional nerd' and Star Wars theories about Rey's parents


Nerds in Sports Podcast: Being a 'professional nerd' and Star Wars theories about Rey's parents

On this edition of Nerds in Sports, we talk with io9.com senior editor Rob Bricken.

Rob explains how he juggles being a fan with being a ‘professional’ nerd, how he came to run io9.com, plus his theory on why Rey’s parents are in Star Wars may shock you.

Kevin Anderson and Michael Piff co-host. We are Nerds. In sports.

Listen to the Nerds in Sports Podcast here.

Blackhawks Camp Synopsis: Roster starting to take shape


Blackhawks Camp Synopsis: Roster starting to take shape

One week down, roughly one week to go.

Some things have fallen into place during the Blackhawks’ first seven days of training camp but this week is when it really gets interesting. The roster will continue to take shape and the competition for the few vacancies will intensify. Here’s a look at what we’ve already seen in Week 1 and questions for Week 2.

Stock Rising

Jordan Oesterle. We could put a few of the young forwards here, but we’ve talked about them quite a bit and will continue to do so. So right now let’s look at Oesterle, who coach Joel Quenneville liked “a lot” in Thursday’s game against the Red Wings. A puck moving defenseman, Oesterle said he played on the right side with the Edmonton Oilers but could also play on the left. If Oesterle has another good week of camp, that and his versatility might get him a chance on a Blackhawks defense still looking for the right pieces.  

Stock Falling

Tomas Jurco. Please realize where we’re coming from with this assessment: where does he fit in this lineup? He didn’t get a lot of opportunities last season but when he did play there wasn’t anything that made him stand out. Stan Bowman likes him and much like with David Rundblad, the Blackhawks want to give the Jurco a chance to justify the draft pick they gave up for him (a third-round selection from the 2017 draft). Several young guys are pushing hard for roster spots. Can Jurco be an every-day player or do the Blackhawks have a decision to make in favor of some of those up-and-coming players? Just very interested to see how this turns out.

Biggest surprise

Nick Schmaltz’s second-line center opportunity. Maybe we should’ve been more open minded to this happening but considering how little that line changed last year you figured Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane would stay together even after the Artemi Panarin trade. But given the strides Schmaltz has made in his own game and the skating work he and Kane did together this offseason, Quenneville wants to see what Schmaltz can do in the middle. There’s always tinkering with this team; we really should have seen the possibility coming but we didn’t.

Some Remaining Questions

- If there’s one forward spot vacant out of training camp, which young player wins it? John Hayden. Here’s why: even if Alex DeBrincat doesn’t make this team out of camp, the Blackhawks’ top six is looking pretty good. Meanwhile the bottom six, especially that fourth line, has some holes. Getting a young player with some size, speed, skill and sandpaper that Quenneville likes and trusts (and he likes and trusts Hayden) would be a great addition to the bottom six.

- Will there be any surprises on defense? Maybe. Part of it depends on what the Blackhawks do about the Michal Rozsival situation. Rozsival didn’t pass his physical (upper body injury) and is not participating in camp. You hate to see someone go out like this, but it may be the end for the veteran. If so, the seventh defensive spot opens up and so do the Blackhawks options. After Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Connor Murphy you have Cody Franson (if the Blackhawks sign him), Oesterle and Jan Rutta who have made good preseason impacts. Michal Kempny’s in the mix, too. Gustav Forsling is on the bubble. He had a great camp last fall but didn’t improve off it; that has to change this season.

- Will the top line combination work? There’s no doubt the Blackhawks missed Brandon Saad. He may not have been facing the sturdiest Red Wings team on Thursday but Saad’s powerful game was nevertheless impressive and a reminder of how much the Blackhawks missed that element the last two seasons. But the Saad-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik combo hasn’t gotten a great look yet — Toews missed Thursday’s game due to illness. Saturday should be the first chance to see if these three can really click.