High school sports dynasties: Boys No. 8, Cary-Grove football
Editor's note: The Daily Herald is counting down the Top 10 boys and girls high school sports dynasties over the past 20 years, two at a time. We continue today at No. 8 with Cary-Grove football and Stevenson girls water polo.
Cary-Grove fans have become accustomed to November football since 2004.
That was the year retired hall of fame coach Bruce Kay installed the triple option offense following four consecutive losing seasons to open the century.
The 2004 team fully bought in to the new system along with the defense of Don Sutherland, coordinator from 1983-2017.
Meanwhile, players like quarterback Brian Mitz, fullback/linebacker Will Yocius, lineman Vince Fillipp and linebacker Alex Kube changed the culture internally by setting new standards for off-season conditioning and weight training.
The combination of the new scheme and heightened determination led to a program breakthrough. In a Class 7A semifinal at Gately Stadium against Morgan Park, which fielded five future NCAA Division I players, the Trojans prevailed 21-14.
Cary-Grove lost to Libertyville 13-3 in the title game but has been a state contender ever since. Not only have the Trojans made the playoffs every year, they've advanced to the second round each time.
In that 16-season span they won Class 6A state titles in 2009 and 2018 and finished runner-up in 2004, 2012 and 2014. They are 5-1 in semifinals, losing only to Glenbard West in a 2015 snowstorm.
Cary-Grove has made 12 quarterfinal appearances in the last 16 seasons, thanks to players like Andrew Lorman, Eric Chandler, Alex Hembrey, Tyler Krebs, Chad McCarron, Kyle Norberg, Zach Marszal, Quinn Baker, Matt Sutherland, Michael Gomez, Trevor Ruhland, Tyler Pennington, Max Skol, Quinn Priester, Ben McDonald and Blake Skol, just to name a few.
A coaching change did not halt the momentum. Kay went 77-10 over his final seven seasons. He retired a year after winning the program's first state title in '09. Head sophomore coach Brad Seaburg took over in 2011. His teams have gone 92-20, highlighted by the 2018 state title and two runner-up finishes.
The keys to Cary-Grove's sustained success have been consistent leadership from a veteran coaching staff and players who demand hard work from each other.
"Without the leadership of Bruce and Don and a lot of other guys but especially those two, it would be very difficult to sustain that success," Seaburg said. "You can have years where you have talented classes and make runs. That's a normal thing. School's have that class, or that group of guys. But to have that level of consistency, I think the leadership part is really important.
"And since 2004, we've just had a buy in with the kids. They believe in what we do. There is a belief that our kids have in our system, in our program, in our culture. Teamwork means something to our kids. It's not just something you put on Twitter. It's real."