Football comes up short in the Battle for the Tracks


Ally Chamberlin

The Vikings defend against the run in the game against Palatine on Oct. 10.

Scott Lenz, Staff Writer

Another chapter in The Battle for the Tracks was written at Palatine High School on Oct. 10. Since 1967, the crosstown rivalry has been renewed each year, splitting the town in two. The dividing line, a set of train tracks that run through the heart of Palatine has come to signify the importance of this single game. This year the Pirates came back to beat the Vikings 24-17.

Junior offensive lineman William Pankratz understands the significance of the game.

“It’s a great rivalry, it really brings the town together and it’s a lot of fun to play in,” Pankratz said. “It’s a great community event.”

The Vikings have dominated the series recently, winning ­eight of the 10 last matchups. They looked to continue this streak after an early rushing touchdown by senior Nate Notaro gave Fremd a 7-0 lead. Two defensive stands, highlighted by a third and goal stop by the Vikes kept them in the game, as they trailed 10-7 going into halftime.

Head coach Lou Sponsel explains that the team did not play up to their potential in the first half.

“I think it was the worst half we have played all year,” Sponsel said. “To be down 10-7 at half was a gift.”

Palatine came out strong in the second half, taking a 16-7 lead with 8:07 left in the third quarter after a long drive was capped off by a rushing touchdown and failed two-point conversion. Fremd’s offense continued to sputter, but an interception returned for a touchdown by senior Jawan Gaines injected the team with life.

Sponsel says the momentum shift that resulted from the pick six brought the team back into contention.

“Having confidence is a big part being an athlete,” Sponsel said. “Winning teams have people that believe and losing teams don’t. When things start to go right you start to believe and it starts compounding.”

The third quarter closed with the Vikings up in a close 17-16 game. After a quick score by Palatine and a successful two point conversion, the green and gold had a scare when senior offensive lineman Jake Plantz stayed down following a routine run. While Plantz was unable to return to the game, fellow offensive linemen Jack Albrecht and Dominic Lombard were able to support the shorthanded team.

Pankratz explains how the injury impacted the team.

“It didn’t affect us at all. We have a lot of confidence in the guys that back us up and we didn’t miss a beat,” Pankratz said.

Once again the defense forced an unsuccessful Palatine field goal attempt following a sack by senior Kyle Lewis. After the missed field goal, Fremd had one last chance to make a comeback. The game ended in a Palatine interception with 32 seconds left that secured the victory for the Pirates. In the end, the spread offense of Palatine proved to be too much for the Vikings.

The Vikes are looking to learn from the loss and come out with a win against their next opponent, Conant. Pankratz feels that the team will be able to return to the high level of play that they are capable of.

“I think we’ve learned a lot from the mistakes that we made against Palatine,” Pankratz said. “We’ve corrected them and we can come back and be the dominating force we have been in weeks past.”

A 5-2 record keeps the Vikings in the race for a high playoff seed and the opportunity to make a run in the postseason.

The team will take on Conant on Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m.