After the big win, defending champs focus on the small things


After a state-winning season, the Cary-Grove Trojans are resetting. All of the starters on offense were seniors, and we will be seeing a lot of new faces in the trenches and in the backfield. 

The biggest change that will be present is at the quarterback position, after senior Jameson Sheehan took his talents to the University of Illinois as a walk-on. 

With Sheehan on his way out, the next guy to step up and start became an uncertainty. 

Months ago, the QB position was to be determined, with the possibilities endless, and now, months later, three possibilities remain. 

“Gavin Henriques, Peyton Seaburg, and Michael Dunkin [are our finalists]”, Coach Seaburg said. “All three of [them] are working hard and getting better each day.”

A decision from Coach Seaburg is probably going to come at “game-time” next Friday because of how close this competition is. 

As for the defense, new players are making their way onto the roster, but the changes have not affected the amount of grit and frame of mind that they hope to replicate from last year’s squad, or according to Coach Seaburg, WILL replicate: 

“Our kids are going to be as tough and as hard-working as they were last year,” he said. 

If you remember Coach Seaburg’s speech from the state title celebration months ago, he explained that East St. Louis had great individuals and individual highlights, but teamwork is what set CG apart. 

This year’s group has so far practiced with the same mentality as last year’s squad, and Coach Seaburg is still more focused on teamwork than the individual standouts of the ‘22 edition of CG football. 

“I wouldn’t necessarily single out one player in particular, but the team overall has just been working really hard, and our main emphasis each day is to keep improving,” he said. 

Not only is CG the best model for success in class 6A heading into this season, but the pressure to sustain that success is at its tipping point. That is why Coach Seaburg is critical that players complete the necessary tasks in order to help the team win week after week. 

“It’s [vital] that our guys lift and [overall] get faster [and] stronger, play other sports if they choose to do [so], and maintain their competitiveness.” 

Way back on May 17, 2002, former NBA superstar Allen Iverson went on a rant about practice. Iverson said that the fact he missed one practice is not worrisome to him. Among the things he stated:  

“We [are] in here talking about practice. Not a game, not a game… practice.” 

The reason I bring this up is because practice is actually very, very important. Coach Seaburg stresses this by focusing on practice rather than the conference competition.

“The kids [need to learn how to] practice. We have a certain tempo that we need them to practice at speed-wise, urgency-wise, [and] consistency-wise. [We need} to practice at the level that we need [our group] to play at. Once we get to that point, we can start focusing on other teams.” 

The future morale and success of the team looks promising because Coach Seaburg believes what has been practiced has a strong chance of not only carrying over to the games themselves, but also creating motivation for both the offense and defense.

“If we’re practicing hard and then our kids are executing, we feel [that] we have a really good chance of being a good team because both sides of [the] ball are pushing each other.”