Scouting Class 6A quarterfinal between Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge
No. 4 Cary-Grove (9-2) at No. 1 Prairie Ridge (10-1)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday
Road to the quarterfinals:
Cary-Grove defeated No. 13 St. Ignatius 41-13 and No. 5 Antioch 14-7; Prairie Ridge defeated No. 16 Grayslake North 51-6 and No. 8 Simeon 49-0.
This is the fourth postseason meeting between the District 155 rivals. Cary-Grove holds a 2-1 edge. Their last playoff tilt in 2017 was an all-time classic. Then-PR quarterback Samson Evans ran for a 66-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left to defeat Cary-Grove 17-13 in the second round.
The rematch is on.
Prairie Ridge handed the Trojans a 42-7 loss on Oct. 18, which vaulted the Wolves to a share of the Fox Valley Conference title with Huntley.
The Wolves limited Cary-Grove to 174 total yards in that game, 154 on the ground.
They held third-year fullback Blake Skol to 27 yards on 17 carries.
Overall, Skol, a third-year fullback, has gained 1,052 yards and scored 19 touchdowns in 174 attempts for a 6-yard average.
One significant change since the first meeting?
Prairie Ridge standout Carter Evans, who played defensive end and fullback against the Trojans, is unavailable.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior is out for the season due to a broken fibula suffered in the playoff opener against Grayslake North.
The Wolves rolled to a 49-0 win against Simeon without him last week.
The Prairie Ridge offensive line of seniors Riley Smith (6-3, 265), Nick Mattran (5-9, 285) and Preston Polizzi, junior Ryan Pearson (6-3, 265) and sophomore Jack Schnoor (6-0, 220) cleared the way for ball carriers like senior Kyle Koelblinger and sophomore Zach Bentsen.
Junior Taidhgin Trost caught touchdown passes of 90, 14 and 34 yards from senior quarterback Connor Lydon.
Of Trost's 13 receptions this season, 11 have gone for touchdowns. He also has rushed for 561 yards and 10 touchdowns in 44 attempts (12.8 avg.).
Lydon has completed 36 of 63 passes (57%) for 877 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has been intercepted twice.
Regardless of on-field personnel, the Trojans need to be better all-around, according to coach Brad Seaburg, who seeks to advance Cary-Grove to the fifth semifinal appearance of his nine-year tenure.
"I felt like in that first game we got out-coached, we got out executed and we got out-hustled," Seaburg said. "If we're going to win this game, we have to win in those three areas. Prairie Ridge plays to the whistle and they play with just a relentless effort and attitude. That's how we have to play from start to finish, and we have to execute our game plan on offense and defense."
Slowing the Prairie Ridge offense falls on Cary-Grove defenders like linebackers Skol (39.5 tackles) Jake Johnson (24.5) and John Gagliano (38.5) and defensive backs Evan Taylor (32.5 tackles, team-high 5.5 for loss) and Anthony Lamantia (36.5 tackles, 2 Int.).
Skol is not Cary-Grove's only offensive weapon.
Senior triple-option quarterback Luke Eleftheriou has rushed for 759 yards and 9 touchdowns on 104 carries (7.3 avg.). He has completed 18 of 37 passes for 323 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Split end Ethan Carlson is a big-play threat.
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior leads the team with 11 receptions for 287 yards and 6 touchdowns. Carlson averages 26.1 yards per catch.
Sophomore Wade Abrams has 55 carries for 444 yards and 5 touchdowns and has made 11 catches for 144 yards and a score.
Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp said for the Wolves to reach their fourth semifinal in five seasons and seventh since 2010, they must forget Week 8 and play like there is no tomorrow.
"Our players know what's at stake here. If we don't win, we're going home," Schremp said. "It's pretty stark when you put in it those terms. They know they have to show up and do it again. It doesn't matter what we did last time. It just matters what we do on Saturday."
Advancement: The winner advances to a semifinal to play the winner of No. 2 Deerfield (9-2) at No. 14 Lake Forest (7-4).