Junior Max Skol isn't sure what to call the position he plays in Cary-Grove's defense.
"No one even knows what I am," Skol said. "They call it Augie. I'm like a safety-linebacker."
Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said last week that coordinator Don Sutherland's defense is comprised of "two linemen, two guys who stand up like linebackers and the rest are pretty much defensive backs."
No matter what they are called or how they are aligned or categorized, the 11 defensive players in dark blue Cary-Grove jerseys moved like a singular organism in shutting down offensive powerhouse Huntley in a 33-7 Fox Valley Conference victory at Al Bohrer Field in Cary Friday night.
The Red Raiders entered averaging 40 points and 413 total yards per game, but the Trojans didn't budge. Cary-Grove (4-1, 4-1) caused 2 key first-half turnovers, including a 66-yard, second-quarter fumble return for a touchdown by Skol that staked the Trojans to a 20-7 halftime lead.
Huntley quarterback Eric Mooney rushed 31 times for 166 yards and a touchdown and he completed 9 of 14 passes for 74 yards, but the Trojans held Huntley (3-2, 3-2) to 270 total yards and shut them out for the final three quarters.
"We held a very good offense to 7 points," Skol said. "Overall, I think our entire defense stepped up."
"It was the combination of having the turnovers and then having some key stops at key times," Seaburg said. "I don't know how many fourth-down stops we had, but we had some really key defensive stands against these guys because they are a really good offense."
Huntley seemed poised to take the early lead after driving 56 yards in 8 plays, but Mooney's slightly underthrown fade to the end zone was intercepted by Cary-Grove junior Ben Ferrell for a touchback.
The Trojans capitalized by driving 80 yards in 7 plays, keyed by a 44-yard run by senior fullback Tyler Pennington. Ryan Magel's 13-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Bobby Collins made it 6-0, though the extra point was missed.
Huntley responded with its best drive of the game, marching 85 yards in 17 plays to take its only lead. Mooney finished it off with a 14-yard keeper up the left sideline. Chase Zion's extra point gave the Red Raiders a 7-6 advantage with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.
It was all Cary-Grove moving forward. On the Trojans' next possession, Kyle Pressley capped an 80-yard, 10-play march by taking a pitch to the right side and racing up the sideline for a 34-yard touchdown run. Collin Walsh's kick gave the Trojans a 13-7 lead with 8:28 remaining in the second quarter.
Then came the play of the game, courtesy of Skol.
Mooney, fighting for yardage on one of his typical second-effort runs, was stripped by Cary-Grove junior Jacob Kuhl. Skol recovered and raced 66 yards to extend the lead to 20-7 with 6:42 left in the half.
The Red Raiders were unable to get back in the game.
"That's something that we have to work past," Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak said. "We have so much potential that our kids have to realize that there's going to be ups and downs, there's going to be momentum swings. To be able to come back from a swing that doesn't go our way is something we need to learn."
After halftime it was all fullback Tyler Pennington. After missing the first two games of his four-year varsity career due to a high-ankle sprain, the senior carried 22 times in the second half alone. He finished with 26 carries for 166 yards and his second-half touchdown runs of 2 and 8 yards salted the game away.
On the Trojans final scoring drive, Pennington ran the ball on 10 of 11 plays and gained 56 of the team's 60 yards.
"I'm very tired. I'm not going to lie," said Pennington, who also played linebacker. "But I'm going to go home and lick my wounds a bit and get ready for Dundee-Crown."