Barrington quarterback Ray Niro III has played with Jake Parsons for four years. He thinks he knows him pretty well.
“Parsons has ice in his veins,” Niro said. “He doesn’t feel pressure.”
That sounds like the right guy to corral a win-sealing onside kick. Parsons might not show that he feels any pressure, but his stomach was churning as the ball headed his way with 19 seconds left in the game on Thursday.
“I was so scared,” Parsons said. “That sealed the game so I was really nervous. It was like a ground ball and then it bounced up and I just held on to it like it was a baby. I’m so glad I got it.”
Parsons’ sure hands gave the No. 12 Broncos a 26-24 win over the host Pirates.
Barrington (6-0, 2-0 Mid-Suburban West) has something special in Niro. The senior dominated the game. He rarely puts a foot in the wrong direction and has that rare ability to run what looks like a wasted play into a huge gain.
“You just keep the play alive,” Niro said. “Sometimes it takes a lot of heart to do that. It takes really good lineman to keep it going and really good wide receivers to get open after they finish running the route.”
Niro was 17-for-21 passing for 143 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He had 20 carries for 167 yards with touchdown runs of 35 and seven yards.
“He’s just a special playmaker,” Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said. “I’ve been coaching for 22 years and there is no doubt that he’s one of the most dynamic players I’ve been around. When the ball is in his hands anything can happen.”
The 35-yard touchdown run was one of those special plays. Niro somehow slid through Palatine’s defensive line and turned what should have been a two-yard gain into a score. But it isn’t the highlight plays that really set Niro apart. It’s the calm control he has over the entire offense.
“That’s all because the coaches do such a good job preparing me for the games,” Niro said. “I wouldn’t be able to do anything without the coaches helping me strategically and my parents with motivation.”
Parsons had five receptions for 43 yards and two touchdowns. The game-winning score was on a trick play from the Palatine 11 with 5:21 to play. Niro passed to running back Alec Andrea, who passed to Parsons in end zone.
“We’ve worked on it in practice, not in a game,” Parsons said. “I guess we saved it for Palatine.”
The Pirates (3-3, 1-1) showed plenty of heart at the end, refusing to quit even when things looked bleak. Quarterback DJ Angelaccio connected with Johnny O’Shea on a 40-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left to pull Palatine within 26-24.
Angelaccio finished 13-for-19 passing for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He was also a threat on the ground, with eight carries for 54 yards.
O’Shea flashed tremendous hands throughout the game. He caught five passes for 118 yards and had an interception on defense.
The Broncos didn’t receive a ton of hype in the preseason, but they just keep beating good teams. They’ve already taken down Warren, New Trier and Fremd.
“If we play for each other everything else will take care of itself,” Sanchez said. “We expect to compete with the best teams in the state and I think we’ve proven that over the years.”
PHOTO GALLERY (click to enlarge)
Palatine’s Marcus Stoudemire (25) fumbles against Barrington. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Palatine’s Jake Moertl (8) breaks free out of the back field against. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Alec Andrea (7) of Barrington is chased by Palatine’s Cortez Hogans (3). Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Palatine’s Darryl Garner (24) pops the ball away from Barrington’s Jack Hopper (12). Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.