12 down, 1 to go for championship bid

In all sports, the regular season reflects the potential for all of the teams fortunate enough to make the playoffs.

Once the postseason starts, in the game-of-inches that is called football, what you did in the regular season is all wish-wash, and the playoffs slowly shave away all pretenders from the mix, leaving the true juggernauts as the last ones standing when the dust settles. 

This year’s Trojans varsity football team is no fluke. This team is where they are now, in the state semifinals for the second time in three seasons, because of their talent, their work ethic, their drive. The knowledge they have about doing their job. Taking care of business. 

Head Coach Brad Seaburg, even with a double-digit lead late on Saturday vs. Crystal Lake Central, knew his team hadn’t finished their eventual 42-21 win off. He made sure to let his team know that before one of their drives late in the game. 

Moments later, the Trojans saw the clock read triple zeros, and they were heading to the state semifinals. Happy faces sprung up on the Cary-Grove sideline and in the stands, everyone starting to smell that elusive state berth that could be earned in less than a week. 

Business is not done, however. They still have one more game to take care of in order to reach state for the first time since they won it all in 2018. 

Before we look ahead to the game that could earn CG a state championship trip, however, let’s dive into what got the Trojans to where they are today. 

Cary-Grove knew what they had coming at them. Crystal Lake Central definitely had smoke coming out of their ears after losing early in the season to the Trojans in a 48-14 defensive breakdown and overall bad game for the Tigers. 

That smoke fueled Cary-Grove’s blazing fire that led to their win in round two of CG vs. Central in 2021. 

The Tigers received the opening kickoff and basically did nothing with the football, only getting themselves to their own 27-yard line. 

Well, “nothing with the football” is a bit of an understatement. The football movement the Tigers had in that first possession actually was beneficial to the Trojans.

The punt attempt by Central’s Myles Stanger was blocked by Ben Hurt-Haller and returned for a ten-yard score to create a mountain of momentum for Cary-Grove. 

“It really set the tone for the rest of the game,” Coach Seaburg said. 

Not surprisingly, special teams played pretty soundly as a result of this punt block. 

“Our kickoff coverage was great after that,” Coach Seaburg said. 

Home-field advantage is so important to teams, especially in the playoffs. This advantage is what teams long for once the playoffs get harder and progress farther. Coach Seaburg feels good that his team had a ton of support from the stands as the game went on. 

“It was exciting. The fans were into it, and we gave them a lot to cheer about,” Coach Seaburg said.

Coach Seaburg was pretty satisfied with his squad’s performance in a game that was winnable for the now 12-0 Trojans. 

“We did a really nice job today,” he said. 

The defense has been a big factor in the Trojans’ success this season, and overall the 11 men on that side of the football had a good day, with senior Drew Borzych picking off a Colton Madura pass late in the third, and the defense forcing and recovering two fumbles. 

The Trojan offense has been the glue that has held this team in their undefeated status, and they were able to create great drives and drain clock when needed. 

Cary-Grove had four rushing touchdowns, the longest of the four a 58-yarder by Nick Hissong that extended the Trojan lead to 13-0 in the first. 

A touchdown pass from Jameson Sheehan to Noah Riley for 28 yards was the final nail in the coffin, extending the Cary-Grove lead to 41. 

Toby Splitt made all of his extra-point attempts. 

As Cary-Grove begins preparations for the Lake Forest Scouts to decide a state appearance, it must feel good to have a favorable crowd when they press play on perhaps the most important game of the season. 

“Hosting a semifinal is all you can ask for at this point of the year,” Coach Seaburg said. 

This year’s Trojans team has been a fun one to watch, and we will see if they can keep the good times rolling at 1 p.m. on Saturday as they take on the Scouts of Lake Forest, who advanced after their shocking last-minute win over Prairie Ridge, 22-21.