Hissong powers Cary-Grove over Prairie Ridge
Cary-Grove's spirit understandably took a downturn when it was forced to quarantine two weeks after a positive COVID-19 test.
The Trojans felt better when they went back to practice this week for a game against rival Prairie Ridge.
Their mood took a huge upswing early in the second half Saturday when fullback Nick Hissong, a 230-pound junior, bowled over two Wolves' defenders, then ran through another inside the 10-yard line for C-G's first touchdown.
"The O-line gave really good blocks and I just ended up scoring, that was a huge mood-changer for everybody," Hissong said. "Everybody got real excited and hyped up and the defense came out and got a turnover on the kickoff, which was an even bigger mood-changer, and the offense came out and scored again. It was an incredible series."
C-G added another touchdown early in the fourth quarter and defeated the Wolves, 20-7, in their Fox Valley Conference game at rainy Al Bohrer Field. The victory lifts C-G toward a shot in the FVC championship game.
The Trojans (2-0) host Crystal Lake Central (3-1) at 7 p.m. Friday. The FVC will determine division places by winning percentage since some may have fewer games, so Friday's winner will advance to the championship game. The winner between Huntley (4-0) vs. Hampshire (3-0) will represent the other side.
"That run Nick had to score was huge in the sense that it was a fantastic run, but I think you saw what it did from a momentum standpoint," Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said. "The next kickoff was a fumble. That run led to a change in momentum in the game."
Hissong's 20-yard touchdown run tied the score at 7-7. On the ensuing kickoff, the Trojans wrestled the ball away from Prairie Ridge's Taidhgin Trost as he tried to gain an extra yard. C-G took over at the Wolves' 20 and scored on Hissong's 3-yard run three plays later.
"The biggest thing we had to do (in the second half) was finish," Trojans quarterback Jameson Sheehan said. "We had the plays, we just had to finish. Nick's just a great player. He lowered his head and did his job."
C-G did not have to throw a pass in the second half. The Trojans ran for 130 yards and let their defense do the rest.
"We knew what we had to do as a team and we knew what we had to do to stop (fullback Carter Evans)," C-G defensive lineman Nick Wojcik said. "We've been planning for that all week. Everyone got what they needed to do done. We took care of the situation."
The Trojans' defense limited Prairie Ridge to 72 total yards in the second half and set up the offense on the Wolves' 23 early in the fourth quarter on Andy Ciske's interception.
Sheehan scored on an 11-yard run with 10:16 remaining.
Prairie Ridge took a 7-0 lead in the first half after Sheehan's punt pinned the Wolves at their own 2. Trost hit Will Komar, who broke free for a 98-yard touchdown, an FVC record.
It is the second consecutive game Prairie Ridge was held to seven points in regulation. Wolves coach Chris Schremp said part of their trouble is keeping players healthy.
Prairie Ridge was without running back Tyler Vasey, a speedy outside threat, who injured a shoulder. Mason Loucks, filling in for Vasey, suffered a shoulder injury in the first half and was wearing a sling in the second half.
"We're having trouble keeping our A's and Z's, our wingbacks, healthy," Schremp said. "We have to adjust and be able to run plays. Our offense is about timing and speed and when you have guys in there who are injured, the timing doesn't get there."
Schremp also lamented the Wolves' mistakes, including some fumbled exchanges they did not lose, but which contributed to drives being stopped.
"Turnovers killed us in the second half," he said. "The exchanges, interceptions, fumble on the kickoff, just too many mistakes. You can't make those mistakes against Cary."
Seaburg did not know what to expect from his team, which just returned to practice on Tuesday. The game was moved back one day because of C-G's quarantine.
"We had a good week of practice, but you can't simulate the speed (of Prairie Ridge)," Seaburg said. "In many ways, this was like our second first game. We didn't get that first-week-to-second-week improvement. We said we'll give it our best and see what happens. The kids just played fantastic."
Sheehan said the Trojans were excited to be back, especially against a rival.
"We knew it was all PR," Sheehan said. "We made no excuses (about being out of action). You can never predict what's going to happen. We just had a positive vibe. It's a great feeling."