As if Cary-Grove didn't have enough ways to shred an opposing defense, the No. 3 football team in Class 6A spent Saturday afternoon sharpening a less-commonly used weapon in a 50-6 nonconference victory over South Elgin.
Senior quarterback Bobby Collins is generally the third option in the triple-option offense, what with all-state fullback Tyler Pennington lined up behind him and speedsters like Ryan Magel and Kyle Pressley itching to stretch the perimeter.
Against South Elgin (3-5), Collins proved to be the best option. With the Storm focused on gang-tackling Pennington, Cary-Grove's signalcaller called his own number 8 times for 125 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Not bad considering he entered Saturday's contest with 248 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns on 28 carries over 7 games.
"We have TP in the back and, obviously, he's a huge threat," Collins said. "And on the outside we've got some really fast guys. Me running the ball really opens up a third option for us, so that's pretty good."
Cary-Grove (7-1) imposed itself on South Elgin physically, particularly on defense. C-G scored 30 first-quarter points and led 44-0 with 2:59 left in the second quarter. The Trojans gained 271 total yards in the first half to South Elgin's 60.
The Cary-Grove defense's signature series came late in the first quarter. Already leading 14-0 after a 28-yard touchdown run by Collins and Pennington's 3-yard score, the defense literally ran South Elgin off the field.
The Storm started the series at its own 6-yard line after a false start penalty. Nico Woods was then tackled for a 3-yard loss by Collin Walsh on first down. A second-down swing pass to Azxavier Salinas was smothered for a 1-yard loss on the edge by Max Skol and Kevin Pedersen, leaving the Storm facing third-and-20 from their own 1.
On the next play, Jordan Laktas shot out of a three-point stance and beat his blocker. Meanwhile, blitzing linebacker Pennington came unobstructed from the outside. They converged on South Elgin quarterback Nate Gomez at the back of the end zone and pushed him past the end line for a safety and a 16-0 Cary-Grove lead.
Later in the first half, Gomez took some time to rise to his feet after a sack by Walsh and Pedersen. Nate Smith played the remainder of the game at quarterback for the Storm.
"Defensively, we were physical," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "There was some hitting going on. They were able to execute a few things, but they weren't able to sustain anything and I just think the physicality defensively was very apparent, especially on the perimeter."
The Trojans went on to score 4 more first-half touchdowns, including a special teams score. Skol blocked a South Elgin punt inside the 20 and Pedersen -- named homecoming king at Friday's pep assembly -- recovered in the end zone for his first varsity touchdown.
"It was cool. It was special," said Pedersen, an all-Fox Valley Conference linebacker a year ago. "It's something I'll remember, but I'm just really glad we got the win."
South Elgin's only tally came on a 10-yard pass from Smith to Dasmond Lockett on the first play of the fourth quarter. Smith completed 7 of 11 passes off the bench for 51 yards and a touchdown.
"Our goal was to take it one play at a time and try to evaluate effort," said South Elgin coach Pat Pistorio, whose team was eliminated from playoff contention after a second-round appearance last year. "Seeing (Cary-Grove) play, our guys have a much better understanding of what we need in terms of pad level and the speed of the game. Cary-Grove is really good at those two things. We have to understand that during the off-season when we lift it's important to establish that kind of low-pad level in the squat rack. That's done in the off-season."
Pressley carried 4 times for 93 yards, Pennington rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown in 12 attempts and Magel finished with 38 yards on 6 carries as the Trojans gained 377 of their 381 total yards via the rush.