Priester's clutch catch helps Cary-Grove top Huntley
It is a play most high school receivers don't make, but Cary-Grove's Quinn Priester is not most receivers.
Host Huntley had scored on 2 of 3 possessions to draw within 9 points of Cary-Grove late in the second quarter Friday. That's when Priester -- a high-level baseball player who committed to Texas Christian before his sophomore year -- made a juggling touchdown catch to steal back the momentum in the Trojans' 35-20 Fox Valley Conference win.
With a defender behind him, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior tipped a 22-yard pass from senior quarterback Ben McDonald up in the air at the goal line, reached for the ball and made a diving catch for an improbable touchdown. Nathan Splitt's extra point put the Trojans up 28-12 with 12 seconds left in the first half.
"It kind of just happened," Priester said. "Got a hand on it and it so happened it went straight up. Big play toward the end of the half. Wanted to keep my eye on it and it just happened to fall into my hands."
Priester finished with 7 receptions for 93 yards, but the touchdown grab was the most memorable.
"It was one of the greatest catches I've seen in person," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "Just a great individual effort. Ben threw it out there and Quinn went and got it. It was a huge play in the game, maybe the biggest play in the game."
The Trojans got the ball first in the second half and all but put the game out of reach. Cary-Grove (4-0, 4-0) marched 71 yards in 16 plays, keyed by a pair of McDonald-to-Danny Daigle fourth-down conversion passes. McDonald capped the drive with a 2-yard run to put his team ahead 35-12 with 4:-09 left in the third quarter. He rushed for 73 yards and 2 touchdowns and threw for 172 yards.
Cary-Grove finished with 409 total yards to 263 for Huntley (3-1, 3-1). The Trojans scored 5 touchdowns in their first 7 possessions.
"We were just trying to do too much," Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak said of the defense. "We tried to stop everything they do instead of taking away what they do best. We can't be a team that tries to do so many different things. We just have to focus on what we're good at."
The Red Raiders lost the turnover battle 2-0. They fumbled handoff on the game's opening possession at the Cary-Grove 37-yard line.
Cary-Grove scored 3 plays later to take the early lead, courtesy of Daigle's speed. He turned a short pass in the flat into a 49-yard touchdown by getting up the sideline before cutting back against traffic. His 14-yard touchdown run up the middle gave the Trojans a 21-6 lead with 5:10 left in the second quarter.
Huntley quarterback Chris Raffin scored on three 1-yard touchdown runs and led his team with 79 rushing yards, but the Trojans limited sophomore Ryder Havens to 47 yards on 15 carries and held all-FVC receiver Michael Boland to 3 catches for 38 yards.
"We wanted to take away the short passes and the big plays," Cary-Grove sophomore linebacker Johnny Gagliano said.
The victory gives Cary-Grove, the top-ranked team in Class 6A, sole possession of first place in the FVC.
"I think it's big because Huntley is always a hurdle in our conference," Seaburg said. "They're always a tough team, a physical team, very talented. To come here and do this is big for our kids and our confidence, but it's four wins. That's what we've got right now and our conference is very tough. We're happy where we're at, but a lot of work to do."