Leader of the pack: A look at Harlem’s Adrian Palos’ decorated four-year varsity career

High School Football

MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — For the last four years, Harlem’s Adrian Palos has been the leader of the pack for the Huskies defense. A 2020 NIC-10 Defensive MVP, and the conference’s leading tackler the last two season, Palos isn’t just a bruiser of the middle. He’ll also run you over on offense. Whether it’s at fullback, tailback, or as a quarterback.

“I feel like these four years have gone by quick and I think in the beginning I never cherished the moments I had with some of my teammates,” said Palos. “Now that it’s my last year, last time playing with most of these guys, I think it’s kind of crazy to believe.”

“When I first took over, when I was announced the head football coach, his mom came up and talked to me a little bit and asked what I felt about playing underclassmen,” said the Huskies third-year head coach Bob Moynihan. “I said, ‘If that’s number 33 the linebacker that I saw on film, he’ll be fine.”

It’s safe to say he’s been more than fine. As they say, hindsight is always 20/20. That’s why it’s ironic Palos is wearing number 20 for his final season. It’s a number that opposing teams are constantly keeping an eye out for, whether it’s on offense or defense.

“We can play him anywhere. He’s not just knocking running backs around, he’s knocking offensive lineman, and I can assure you, that if you watch the film, everyone has a plan for him and he just destroys that plan,” Moynihan said.

In his own words, Palos is the definition of do whatever it takes to help the team win.

“If it means I play quarterback, running back, it doesn’t really matter where I play, as long as I’m helping the team win in some shape then I’m alright with it,” Palos said.

“He’s a huge part of what we do defensively, but he’s also a huge part of what we do offensively,” said Moynihan. “He’s a true throwback type player that can play both side of the ball that can do it very well.”

That is exactly what he did last season, as a key contributor on a Huskie team that went a perfect 6-0 and took home the program’s first NIC-10 championship since 1997.

“I think it was a long time coming. I mean, me, James [Cooper], and a lot of those other kids that were on that team, we’ve played together since we were kids coming up here we wanted to win a NIC-10 championship and we ended up doing it,” Palos said.

Since Moynihan’s arrival in 2019 the culture has been reshaped. The Huskies have gone from middle of the pack, to the forefront of the conference, and Palos is a major reason for that.

“My freshman year is a lot different than it is now,” Palos reflected. “We’ve become more of a team. My first two years we didn’t win NIC-10 championships because we weren’t as close of a team as we were last year.”

Moynihan says Palos and this senior class has changed the culture.

“Their biggest thing is, ‘we lift weights.’ And that’s what they do,” said Moynihan. “They get in the weight room, the whole group lifts weights together. ‘The Dark Side,’ that’s the defense, they’re in there together just getting after it. And that’s the leadership, that’s their culture, that’s their insignia.”

But unfortunately all good things must come to an end. The clock ticking on a four year journey of high school varsity football.

“I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet, I’m still playing this week by week. But I think here in a minute it’s going to really set in that it might be our last game,” said Palos. “To be honest, it will probably be sad because we’re going to be going separate ways and not be playing on the same team anymore.”

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