Cary-Grove rolls past Crystal Lake Central

By Scott Walsh
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/31/2018 11:40 PM

With last year's starting quarterback Quinn Priester, a baseball standout who has committed to play at Texas Christian next year and who only recently returned from fulfilling his Boys of Summer commitments, now back in the fold, might there be a quarterback controversy brewing at Cary-Grove?

Not so much. Trojans head coach Brad Seaburg doesn't have anything to worry about, not after what starter Ben McDonald showed him Friday night at Crystal Lake Central.

After a shaky first quarter in which Cary-Grove turned the ball over on its first two possessions, McDonald settled down and directed the Trojans' lethal triple-option offense masterfully. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior rushed for 201 yards and five touchdowns by land and threw for another as Cary-Grove decimated the Tigers 42-7 in Fox Valley Conference action. In all, McDonald accounted for 363 of the Trojans' 482 yards of total offense.

But as good as McDonald was, it was the defense that drew Seaburg's praise -- and comparisons to the lightning that stopped the game for about 20 minutes midway through the last quarter.

"You guys were like that lightning we saw tonight," Seaburg said to his defensive stalwarts after the game with a big grin on his face. "This is another step ahead and we're right where we want to be." And that would be 2-0 overall and in the FVC.

Crystal Lake Central drops to 0-2 overall and in the conference. One has to wonder if the Tigers made someone at the IHSA mad, since they had to open the season against defending state Class 6A champion Prairie Ridge last week and then face this formidable Cary-Grove machine right out of the box.

If Seaburg had more hair, he might have pulled it out after watching the Trojans' first two possessions, both of which ended in turnovers. The first ended a nine play drive when McDonald and Zach Perrone failed to connect on a pitchout and the Tigers' Cole Keenan pounced on the ball at his own 17.

Crystal Lake Central managed to pick up a first down on the ensuing possession before punting the ball back to the Trojans. McDonald managed to direct the team from its own 12 all the way to the Crystal Lake Central 24 in just six plays before a poorly thrown ball came down in the hands of the Tigers' Jacob White.

But things started to click for McDonald and the Trojans in the second quarter. McDonald ran the ball in on each of Cary-Grove's four second-quarter possessions, scoring from 12-, 45-, 8- and 1-yard out to give the Trojans a commanding 28-0 halftime lead.

Then, after finding senior Danny Daigle all alone on the left flat for a 24-yard scoring strike with just under 4:00 to play in the third, McDonald (11 for 15, 162 yards) added another scamper, this time from 29 yards out, to end the scoring for Cary-Grove and give them a 42-0 lead after three.

Crystal Lake Central quarterback Aidan Ellinger (16 for 30, 184 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions) finally got the Tigers on the board on their first possession in the fourth quarter. He engineered a five-pass, three-run drive that covered 59 yards sealed the deal when he found 6-4 wide receiver Anthony Beck in the back corner of the end zone to make it 42-7.

And about that rough start? Did it worry Seaburg?

"Well, we were a little frustrated, including Ben," the coach explained. "And he had a great game. He really did. He did the things we know he can do. Early on those were just execution mistakes, and those are going to happen. We just had to not change what we were doing and execute better, and we did. But the defense really picked us up tonight."

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