Cary-Grove completes perfect regular season
For one quarter Friday night at Hampshire, Cary-Grove didn't look much like Cary-Grove.
The next three quarters were more like it.
The Trojans, ranked No. 2 in The Associated Press Class 6A poll behind only East St. Louis, struggled early in their regular season finale. They fumbled on two of their first three possessions and were stopped on downs on the other.
When Hampshire quarterback Tyler Fikis lofted a perfect pass down the left sidelines to Devin Yeats for a 34-yard touchdown, the Whips had pulled even at 7-7 with just a minute left before halftime.
Unfortunately for the Whip-Purs, they were called for an unsportsmanlike penalty on the score. That helped give the Trojans a short field to work with on the ensuing drive, and Nick Hissong capitalized with a 2-yard rushing touchdown to give Cary-Grove a 14-7 halftime lead.
It was all Trojans from there, a 28-0 blitz in the third quarter that turned the tight game into another rout. Cary-Grove capped its 9-0 regular season and 9-0 run through the Fox Valley Conference with a 42-14 victory.
Quarterback Jameson Sheehan led the third-quarter barrage, scoring on a 44-yard run two minutes in, then tossing touchdown passes to Toby Splitt and Noah Riley.
Splitt also had an interception in the quarter, and Hissong ended it with a 35-yard rushing score to make it a 42-7 game with 1:19 left in the third.
"It (the first quarter) was kind of a wake-up call," Sheehan said. "We had to get going. Once we got it going, it was going.
"We had the plays. We just had to execute. Hampshire is a great team, both sides of the ball. That's a very good team. It was just little details that we were missing."
The Trojans posed for a team photo afterward with the FVC trophy, smiles all around.
They will start on their next goal of a state championship next weekend. But not until they took time to enjoy another conference title.
"We have won a lot at our school and the kids are used to winning but you can never take for granted how hard it is to win 9 games, to win in this conference," Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said. "It's great for the kids to know that's an accomplishment. To win our conference is tough and it was a great job by our kids to do it."
Hampshire (5-4, 5-4) wasn't able to take advantage of the Trojans' early miscues. They punted on their first four possessions.
Drew Magel opened the scoring for Cary-Grove with a 29-yard touchdown run with five minutes left in the first half. He ended up rushing for 105 yards on just 9 carries; Hissong led with 136 yards and 2 TDs on 17 carries. Ten different Trojans had at least one carry as Cary-Grove finished with 342 yards rushing. Sheehan added 100 yards passing, completing 6 of his 8 attempts.
"The kids never panicked," Seaburg said. "We were put in situations in the game we really hadn't seen this year. Our defense played fantastic with all the mistakes the offense made. The defense did a great job. The third quarter was just a great effort by everyone."
Hampshire also should be playoff bound. Fikis completed 19 of 29 passes for 181 yards and 2 TDs and led Hampshire with 40 rushing yards. Yeats caught 6 passes for 111 yards.
The Whip-Purs went 0-9 in Jake Brosman's first year as coach four years ago. This year's seniors were freshmen that season.
"The playoffs are huge," Brosman said. "We talked about building this into a playoff team. Having it be the guys who were here from day one is a good feeling.
"We came out and battled hard. Obviously Cary is a phenomenal team so any time we can go into half the way we did, going in and playing a nice, even half was a good feeling. We had some energy at halftime. We came out and kept battling but Cary is tough."