The C-G powerhouse: football edition

Every morning, 1,813 students walk into the historic halls of Cary-Grove High School.

When entering through the lobby, one immediately has a choice: Go left, past Student Services and the senior bench, or go right and admire the frames and display boxes on the walls. Either way, you will be able to get where you are headed eventually.

But if you stop and look while going right, you’ll notice that hallway has more or less of a “theme.” A black-and-white picture at the front of the top row congratulates 1961’s athlete of the year. Through the 80s, you can admire those who may have been outstanding athletes, but sure as heck aren’t going to win any award for best hair.

Further down are team plaques from over the years. One might notice the Athletic State Trophy Case, almost a “hall of fame” to the best individual C-G athletes that ever stepped into these halls. Lining the stairs to the locker rooms, plaques represent the success of many C-G teams, mostly the early 2000s to now. On a sunny day, one may even be blinded by the light shining off the biggest trophies in the lobby.

An outsider can walk into this school for the first time and realize something quickly: C-G is proud of its sports, and has more than a valid reason to be. A favorite of many, football, is celebrated every fall Friday, and it seems that every year brings a good team. But the best evidence of being better than others comes from stats. According to the numbers, is Cary-Grove actually a football powerhouse?

C-G is and has been a dominant force in the Fox Valley Conference over the years. The furthest back that IHSA online records goes is 1996, when the Trojans took the field against Wauconda with Mr. Bruce Kay as coach and won 54-0 (coincidentally, the Trojans went 5-4 that season).

Nineteen years of FVC dominance and a state championship later, the 2015 Trojans went 11-2, going 4-1 in conference. The latter record is the key stat in determining our status as a powerhouse in the conference.

Here is further evidence: Cary-Grove football has gone 110-30 in-conference since 1996. That means that the Trojans have won almost 80% of all conference games they have played since 1996.

Not completely convinced yet? In those 20 seasons, C-G made the playoffs 16 times. That means that we only missed the playoffs four times since ‘96, all in a row spanning from ‘00 to ‘03. In 2004, a 13-1 season started a six-season Fox Valley Conference Champions streak, the last of which, 2009, involved something pretty special — the state championship.

But you say: that’s cool and all, but aren’t you trying to show us how they compare to the rest of the conference?

The Prairie Ridge Wolves. One of the all-time rivals to C-G. A tradition since 1997, but not always in-conference. You see, in 2005, the FVC became two separate conferences, Fox Valley (Fox) and Fox Valley (Valley).

Like many teams, PR switched between the two conferences a couple of times through 1997- 2015. Thus, it’s best to compare the schools during the years both Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge played in the same half of the FVC. During those 11 seasons (‘97-‘04 and ‘10-‘12), both teams played 88 games each.

The Prairie Ridge Wolves, throughout those 11 seasons, won 56% of all the games they played.

The Crystal Lake South Gators, who also played all 11 of those seasons in that half, won 53% of their 88 games.

The Cary-Grove Trojans won 70% of all of their games.

If that stat alone doesn’t prove a powerhouse, nothing does.

But there has to be some kind of reason why we are so consistently good, right? It’s not like we can recruit like a private school. Our whole team is made up every year by whoever happens to live in Cary or FRG.

So what do the coaches do about it? The Cary Grove Jr. Trojans, an early grade school to eighth grade training camp. It’s absolutely genius. Go to any Jr. Trojans game and watch closely.

The majority of plays are based off the high school playbook. You will see the triple option. Passing? Forget about it! They play with this game plan their whole early lives, so when the day comes for that first year of high school, they already are multi-year experts on football.

Freshman player Spencer Bridge “joined in eighth grade so I could get bigger and stronger and be ready for high school football.” Of course, things are different and high school is a way faster game. But when it comes down to it, the Jr. Trojans are what give C-G such a strong edge.

Of course, there are many other highly competitive FVC sports, and we’ll examine our powerhouse status across those in future articles. But in the case of football, we can definitively say that Cary-Grove knows how success and victory feel.