Trojans rally to break week 1 slump

The Trojans get well-deserved praise when people hear they’ve been at least a second-round playoff team the last 14 seasons, including a state championship trophy and three other appearances in the big game. However, despite all this success, the Trojans have had a minor Achilles heel the last few years: week one.

That changed Friday night.

The 29-22 win at home over Crystal Lake South was the first Trojans season opener victory since 2015, breaking the slump of the last two seasons.

Superfans filling up the stands early saw the end of the frosh/soph game, which C-G won 12-7. The early arriving fans yelled, whistled, clapped, and furiously shook gatorade bottles full of beads as the F/S team celebrated their opening win.

Then, as more people filed in and created the massive superfan section, the season-opening pregame festivities all led up to the moment everyone had been waiting for these last nine months: the cloud of baby powder that meant kickoff.

Despite marching all the way to only yards from the endzone, the Trojans failed to score on their first series. However, the home side of the scoreboard would not read zero for much longer. On their first play after the turnover on downs, the Gators got a holding penalty in the end zone — a safety by high school rules. It wasn’t a TD, but the Trojans were on the scoreboard early.

First half touchdowns from Blake Skol and Danny Daigle followed. Despite the defense really showing up, especially in most of the third quarter, the Gators had the lead going into the fourth, 22-16.

As many of you may remember, both the 2016 and ‘17 openers were against eventual state champs Prairie Ridge — once here and once there. Neither game was a blowout at all. In both, it was still anyone’s game through most of the fourth quarter. In fact, the last blowout opener was in 2013, when the Trojans won 42-18 while visiting Wheaton North.

So it was only right that this one would come right down to the end, too.

In their first turn with the ball in the fourth quarter, the Trojans offense failed to get anywhere and had to punt.

If Crystal Lake South got the ball from the punt, they may have very well scored again and run out the clock to slim the Trojans’ chances of a comeback. But the Gators made another crucial mistake — a flag on the punt. Just like that, not only was it Trojans ball, it was a first down.

The Trojans came right into that new set of downs and absolutely ripped through the South defense with another huge first down from Daigle followed by a rush TD from Zach Perrone.

The Trojans then missed the PAT. It was a tie game with just over eight minutes left.

Not a single gatorade bottle remain unshaken for even a second of those eight minutes. The defense was like a brick wall for both sides. Many started to wonder if there would be an overtime.

That was, until the Trojans started marching downfield with about a minute left.

25 seconds left, 3rd down. Incomplete pass.

Daigle ran a far pass route on fourth down. Everyone in the entire stadium, not a single one sitting down, knew this would most likely decide the game.

Quarterback Ben McDonald lobbed a beautiful pass right to Daigle, who ran 29 yards right to the house.

Trojans 29, gators 22. Just under 20 seconds left to play. Fans at the PR/Central game over in Crystal Lake probably heard the roar from the C-G crowd.

Speaking of the rest of the FVC, no other game matched in excitement, and the teams you’d expect to win did. Jacobs destroyed Hampshire 50-0, Huntley beat McHenry by a sizeable 48-22, and despite the fact that they shipped basically every star player of the last two years off to the University of Iowa, PR beat Central 58-27.

The trojans definitely played the closest and most exciting game out of the other FVC matchups week one, which is both good and bad. A blowout would not have been as fun to watch, but it may have showed more promise for the rest of the season. Personally, I think the closeness of this one was week one jitters showing, for both teams. The next few games will really show us if this Trojans team has what it takes to be a state championship contender — starting this week with a trip back to Crystal Lake Central.

In what was arguably the greatest win of the last season, the last time the Trojans took on the Tigers was October 20th, 2017. In the final seconds, the Trojans scored a TD to bring the game within one. Though ultimately both teams made it to the playoffs, many thought at the time that only the winner would. All we needed was a PAT to tie it and send it to OT, but Coach Seaburg and his team had a different idea.

Ben Ferrell was found wide open in the back of the endzone for the two-point conversion, and the Trojans won the game because of it. I filmed it from right behind the endzone, and published it on Youtube. ( Take some time to watch that before this Friday’s game. It is a great moment that brings back some awesome memories.

For the rest of the conference, 0-1 McHenry takes on the 1-0 Dundee Crown, who upset out-of-conference Grayslake North week one. Huntley is visiting Jacobs, both teams 1-0, and Hampshire, despite the 50-0 shutout, looks to upset PR on their home turf.

This past week’s win showed a lot about the team, but even more about this community. The level of anticipation and excitement for a new season is now even higher riding the big win wave into CLC. With the fans, coaches, teachers, and entire towns of Cary and FRG backing them more than ever, the sky’s the limit for this Trojans team.