Moments after the final whistle, Corey Laktas had to wait for an opening before delivering the game ball to first-year head coach Brad Seaburg.
It was one of the few times that the Cary-Grove quarterback was slowed down all night long, as the 5-7, 155-pound senior rushed for 156 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also adding a two-point conversion during the Trojans' 28-0 nonconference triumph over St. Charles East Friday night at
Laktas, who had already surpassed the 100-yard mark (102 yards on 9 carries) by halftime, sprinted 36 yards for a touchdown on the Trojans' opening possession less than two minutes into the game.
But he was most proud of having the honor of awarding the game ball to Seaburg before a joyous team huddle near midfield.
"It's well-deserved," said Laktas. "He's a very good coach.He brings a lot of positive energy to the team. He pushed us hard this summer. He has done a great job and he's going to do a great job.
"My grade went 9-0 two years ago when he (Seaburg) was our sophomore head coach," added Laktas. "We're looking to keep that streak going with him."
Laktas, who added a 17-yard TD run midway through the second quarter, also benefited from excellent field position thanks to a solid defensive effort from his teammates.
Fueled by defensive back Zach Marszal (2 interceptions) and cohorts Sean Bryan (sack), Max Kersten (sack) and Kyle Norberg (sack), the Trojans limited the Saints' offense to just 65 total yards and 5 first downs.
"It would've been nicer if the offense had capitalized a little bit more but the defense played a heck of a game," said Laktas. "It's nice to have a defense do that for an offense. You don't have to worry about putting up points because the points will come later on."
Meanwhile, St. Charles East's offense marched into Cary-Grove territory just one time and was successful on 2 of 10 third-down attempts -- 6 of those being 3rd-and-10 or more situations.
"I've got to tip my hat to them," Saints coach Mike Fields said of the Trojans. "There's a reason why they're ranked number four (in Class 6A). They're very disciplined. They do what they do and they do it very well.
"I give a lot of credit to their defensive coordinator (Don Sutherland)," added Fields. "He does a wonderful job of scheming. They took away our pass threats. I thought we were going to be able to throw a little bit on them but their pressure on our quarterback negated our ability to hit guys
on the outside."
Saints senior quarterback Dean Bowen completed 6-of-13 passes for 41 yards in his first varsity start, while Charlie Fisher caught 4 balls for 34 yards. Cary-Grove out-rushed St. Charles East, 389-24.
"We'll take our lumps tonight but the sun will come out tomorrow and we'll be back at it," said Fields.
Across the field, Seaburg cherished his first varsity victory as he clutched the game ball.
"It's a good feeling," said Seaburg. "There's some relief, I guess, from week one. But work starts tomorrow morning.
"We have pretty high expectations at Cary-Grove. We expect to play tough and physical football."