Trojans on the rise despite being knocked down by injuries

Terrin Waack

The fireworks before the start of the game, the smell of the barbecue behind the concessions, the roar of the dedicated Superfans, the little kids running around proudly in their Jr. Trojans uniforms, and you know it’s that time of year again – football season. Whether or not one understands what’s going on, almost everybody shows up to the Friday night football games. For Cary-Grove, Friday night football is more than just a game, it’s a town event for everyone to root for their boys in blue and white.

With a new season comes a clean slate with new senior players. Senior Matthew Hughes spoke of the excitement of being one of the “top dogs” on the team.

“The leadership role as a senior is always nice and helping out other people on the team is always great. The senior atmosphere is better and it is more fun to be out there on the field day after day.”

With seniors dominating the majority of the varsity team, it was uncommon to see two freshman (#7 Colin Walsh and #39 Tyler Pennington) playing during Friday night’s game versus Huntley. Hughes shared his thoughts regarding starting freshman on varsity so early in the season.

“We weren’t expecting that, but the kid comes out, he plays hard, plays low and with the injuries that we have had, he’s stepped up with the opportunity and took advantage of it. It doesn’t really matter whether he’s a freshman or a senior to us as long as he can play.”

Within the first two games, it’s unfortunate to say that there have already been multiple injuries.

“All teams know that injuries are going to happen at some point, and it just gives opportunities to other kids. It stinks for three seniors to go down before the season even started, but we just have to work through it,” Hughes said.

Despite these injuries, the question on everyone’s minds is still “will we go back to state this year?” Coming in second last year at state, many of those who played were seniors and graduated, leaving some big shoes to fill for this year. However, do this year’s players feel pressure to fill those shoes?

“It’s not like we feel pressure that we need to go back to state, but it’s definitely setting high standards and we want to keep those standards high. There’s pressure to perform and do well, but not as much as other teams might put, or other people, that we have to go back to state every year.”

With a new season comes a new team with new skills and it would be unfair to compare different years against each other. However, with a 3-2 record, the Trojans have had a rocky start, but are proving that they can bounce back and keep their heads held high.

“Definitely the two losses right off the bat have impacted us,” Hughes said. “They were two great teams and we knew going into those weeks we would have to fight hard. With this season, with the low numbers due to injuries, we didn’t know what our identity was and I think those first two games really helped us to see how much fight, how much tenacity the kids who haven’t played varsity would come out and play on the field with. Those first two weeks really helped us get corrected, get things set down and help people get the right position they are supposed to be in, which will help us later in the season.”

With only five games down, the season has just started. Homecoming is only a week away, and now that the team has gotten everything back in order, hopefully more wins are in the future. Whether he is a senior or a freshman, each player has a long, successful season ahead of him, one to be proud of and one to remember. For it is not about the number of times we get knocked down, but the number of times we rise.