Conference comes down to epic rivalry game

It’s the absolute best problem this team’s beat writer can face: running out of ways to say “Trojans win.”

So let’s make a late-game substitution and replace the words with some numbers.

At this time last year, the Cary-Grove Trojans sat at a positive 5-2 record, the third-place spot in the conference — not at all bad by any standards. Even their points-for-to-points-against ratio, 266 to 148, was solid.

In 2018, after Friday night’s 49-14 win over Jacobs, the conference-leading Trojans (7-0) continue to impress every week with their blowout wins. And while 5-2 and 7-0 don’t seem too different when it comes down to it, a simple glance at the points-for-to-points-against ratio for the big blue Trojan train shows why they are worthy of that title.

Through seven games, the Trojans have scored 322 points and let up only 99, an edge of nearly 50 points on both total 2017 PF and PAs.

The Trojans manage to exceed every expectation week in and week out, and as previously stated, Friday night’s contest against Jacobs was no different. C-G managed a 49-14 win in just over three full quarters. (With about nine minutes remaining in the fourth, the game was “delayed” due to rain and lightning. Not long after, both coaches agreed that the game was to be considered over.)

As has become almost as constant as Trojan wins, the standout players on both sides of the ball were Quinn Priester (3 TDs, 2 INT), Danny Daigle (2 TD, 5 catches, 90 yds), and quarterback Ben McDonald (9-for-9 passing, 5 passing TDs, 1 rushing, 151 passing yards and 65 rushing.)

“He’s done great.” Coach Seaburg had this to say on McDonald; “He’s done great from the standpoint of understanding our offense, getting us in the right plays, running the ball well, distributing the ball well. His pass completion percentage is just outstanding.”

The Trojans are now just a week eight win shy of winning the conference. Simple enough, right?

Let’s just say you couldn’t have scripted this any better if it were a Hollywood movie.

Week eight will arguably be the toughest test for the Trojans so far. For the first time since November 2017, the rivalry is back and better than ever.

The back-to-back defending state champion Prairie Ridge Wolves will host the Trojans this Friday, the first time since week one of 2017, where the Trojans lost a heartbreaking defensive contest 7-6.

Despite stretching their win streak into a third season and 30 straight games, the wolves finally lost to Huntley week three. However, that loss remains the only one the team has suffered all season.

I don’t have to sit here and explain this rivalry’s weight. Anyone who has gone to or has been around C-G or PR these past few years could tell you all about any one of the many battles these two successful teams have had, including the playoff loss that ended last season for the Trojans. There is a reason why wolves and Trojans fans alike have had week eight marked on their calendars since the schedules were first released.

However, Coach Seaburg and his team don’t seem to have a rear-view mirror; they try to see this upcoming week as only the 2018 conference championship, and not let past emotions toward this opponent give it anymore weight than it already has.

“If we were seeking revenge, we’d have to go find some people who are playing college football,” Coach Seaburg stated. “A lot of our guys who are playing in the game weren’t even playing last year. This is our team this year. If it helps motivate us, great, but we’re not playing this game to avenge anything from last year. We’re playing this game for this year and to win this conference.”

It doesn’t matter if you want revenge from last year, to win the conference this year, or anything in between — you can’t deny the change this team has seen in one season. Heck, McDonald was backup to his new favorite target in Priester the last time these two teams played.

Maybe there is a little bit of determination from last year that this team can use. Maybe it’ll be just enough to win the conference championship. Maybe I’ll have to come up with yet another way to say “Trojans win.”

The big stage and rivalry make only one thing a certainty — this is going to be fun.