Trojan Times

At journey’s end, a familiar foe awaits

Mike Fornelli, Staff Writer

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In early September, CG junior Dymitri Kanellakis took to Twitter after blowing out Hampshire 49-0 in week three.

“3 down…11 to go. #champaign”

It was an easy retweet then. It really didn’t seem to mean anything. The team looked great, and we all knew there was a chance, but we also realized how many challenges were coming. Heck, even a hating response read “cary gonna catch a fat L from the red raiders [Huntley]”

Turns out the Huntley fan was wrong. Next Prairie Ridge fell. Then even a strong out-of-conference team couldn’t stop an undefeated season. Wauconda and Kaneland showed little resistance, and Phillips met its match. Finally, after Saturday’s improbable fourth quarter comeback victory over Niles Notre Dame, the tweet that was once a dream became reality.

After 13 straight wins, the Cary-Grove Trojans are now only one away from the ultimate goal, a state championship.

The last win that got them there was not easy. As it was against Phillips the week prior, it was obvious early on that the Notre Dame Dons deserved to be playing this late in the bracket and wouldn’t go down without a fight.

After back-and-forth action for most of the game, the Dons had the lead 21-20 going into the final quarter. This was the first time since week one against Crystal Lake South that the Trojans were down on the scoreboard going into the fourth.

Notre Dame marched and ate clock for more than the first eight minutes of the quarter, producing short yardage play after play to their two best offensive players. Their wildcat offense and lack of passing was preventing the Trojans defense from stopping them, and a touchdown seemed almost inevitable. With very little time left, a Notre Dame TD would most likely decide the game, especially if they had a successful two points after.

Enter the man dubbed a “stud” by his coach the week prior — Danny Daigle.

Daigle picked off the ball in the opposing end zone, then helped his team march downfield in the final minute. Thanks to a combination of tremendous blocking and offensive execution from the Trojans, Daigle was able to run the ball in not only for a TD, but also a two-point conversion after. The defense came out and stood as a brick wall for the final few plays, and soon the clock read zero — Trojans 28, Dons 21. For the first time since 2014 and the 5th time since 2004, the Cary-Grove Trojans are headed to the state championship.

Their opponent has some experience in the area, as well.

You may remember the Crete-Monee Warriors. Maybe you have flashbacks every time the Bears play Laquon Treadwell and the Vikings, as they did this past Sunday.

Of the five Trojan state championship appearances since 2004, the same three teams have been the opponent- Libertyville in ‘04, Providence Catholic for the last big win in ‘09, Treadwell era Crete-Monee in ‘12, Providence again in ‘14, and now Crete-Monee again for the 2018 title.

The Warriors defied the 6A bracket, easily outplaying their eleven-seed ranking. They, too, had a comeback win in the semis, beating one-seed Richards 38-35. Their entire run to this point is much different, but equally as impressive, when compared to the Trojans. They suffered a 0-3 start, but have now won 10 straight after. To be fair, two of their three losses were to Brother Rice and Lincoln Way East, ranked first and second in the state, respectively.

The Trojans have managed to impress and shock many people over the course of the last 13 games. They’ve had enough achievements and great moments to fill a Hollywood movie.

What once seemed like a dream for every Trojan fan, coach, and player is now a reality. Saturday at 1 p.m., the Trojans will play at Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois, looking to get that final win and achieve the ultimate goal of winning the whole thing.

Forget Huntley. PR. Naperville Central. Phillips. Forget all the times it was a “big game.” You’re about to witness the biggest of them all.

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At journey’s end, a familiar foe awaits