Cary-Grove pulls away from Crystal Lake South

Updated 9/3/2021 11:01 PM

Crystal Lake South coach Rob Fontana had a good idea of what to expect hosting the state's No. 1 team in Class 6A on Friday, calling Cary-Grove "in a league by itself," and its offense a "juggernaut."

The Trojans lived up to that billing and then some in the Gators' Fox Valley Conference home opener at Ken Bruhn field, moving up and down the field at will in a 60-20 victory.


Senior running back Nick Hissong led the way, rushing for 251 yards on 19 carries.

"We're just doing what we usually do," Hissong said. "I think one of our big things is how we pace ourselves, never trying to slow down, always trying to speed up. A lot of us have been playing together for a long time so it's always nice to look to your left or right and see someone you are friends with."

Crystal Lake South kept up for awhile Friday, mostly behind the left arm of quarterback Justin Kowalak. He threw for 181 yards and a pair of TDs in the first half, and midway through the second quarter the Gators were within 26-20.

But Cary-Grove (2-0, 2-0) never slowed down. The Trojans scored touchdowns on all six of their first-half drives, only facing a third down three times, and then capped the second quarter with a 25-yard pick-six by junior Colin Desmet for a 48-20 halftime lead.

"Having that interception was huge," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "Kind of gave us momentum going into the second half. It was a good win for the guys."

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The Trojans were equally unstoppable on the ground and through the air. Quarterback Jameson Sheehan completed all six of his first-half passes -- all to Noah Riley. Sheehan ended up 8-for-8 passing for 138 yards, and the Trojans gained 352 yards on the ground.

Hissong ran for 4 touchdowns and 174 yards in the first half behind offensive linemen Thomas Burton, Colin Videtich, Max Katsenos, Nolan Sharkey and Niko Neckopulos.

"Nick had a good night," Seaburg said. "He was really running hard. A lot of those runs we blocked really well but he sure gained a lot of yards at the second and third level on his own."

Drew Magel started the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run for Cary-Grove, Riley's 32-yard touchdown reception made it 14-0, and Hissong's 76-yard run put the Trojans up 20-7 after one quarter.


Colton Hess and Cooper LePage caught touchdown passes from Kowalak, and Nathan VanWitzenburg scored on a 2-yard run to keep the Gators within 26-20. But in the final six minutes of the first half, Hissong ran for 2 TDs and Desmet's interception return broke the game open.

Wade Abrams added a 30-yard touchdown run to start the second half. Toby Splitt's 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter pushed the margin to 40 points.

For the Gators (0-2, 0-2), Kowalak completed 15 of 27 passes for 221 yards, and VanWitzenburg rushed for 97 yards on 23 carries.

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