Cary-Grove overcomes slow start, Dundee-Crown
With an almost entirely new team and the title of defending state champions undoubtedly bringing some butterflies, Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg will be the first to admit he wasn't quite sure what to expect in Week 1.
But by the end of Friday's 41-21 win over Dundee-Crown, he knew enough about how his players respond to an opponent giving the Trojans their best shot -- something they can expect to see quite a bit this year.
"We had a lot of guys coming out and getting their first starts," he said. "I thought for the most part they played well and we did what we needed to do. And like I told the kids after the game, there are a lot of things we will see tomorrow in film that we need to get better at. Then hopefully the Cary-Grove team of week 2 will be a little different than the Cary-Grove team of week 1."
As one might expect, Cary-Grove was a bit slow to get things going on both sides of the ball. The Trojans went three and out and had two costly holding penalties early. Then, Dundee-Crown showed it wouldn't be intimidated, going on a 12-play, 62-yard drive that ended in a five-yard touchdown pass from Zach Randl to Henry Kennedy to make it 7-0 after one quarter.
Dundee-Crown moved the ball like that most of the night, playing virtually mistake-free football with workhorse Keegan Otte pounding his way to 158 yards on a mammoth 35 carries while Randl operated the short passing game well most of the night.
However, as would soon be shown, that slow and steady approach, as successful as it was, just couldn't measure up to Cary-Grove's ability to produce big chunk plays, something that was set up by a huge defensive moment.
With the Chargers up 7-6 midway through the second, the Trojans stuffed a short sneak run on fourth and 1 in Dundee-Crown territory. Just three plays later, Andrew Prio hit the corner and made a man miss on his way to a 24-yard touchdown run and a 13-7 C-G lead.
That was just the beginning. Late in the half, Mykal Kanellakis fought through two tackles and raced 66 yards on a scoring pass play. Then, on the first play of the second half, Colin Desmet hit the hole and was hardly touched on his way to a 59-yard scoring run that blew the score open at 27-7.
From that stop on fourth down until the end of the game, Cary-Grove averaged 16.5 yards per play. Desmet led the way with 142 yards and two touchdowns.
"It was a big stop for us, and it really shifted the momentum in the game I feel like," said Prio, who added a 23-yard score in the second half and wound up with 102 yards on the ground. "We had a great drive after that. It was a big moment."
Dundee-Crown twice cut the lead down to two possessions following a five-yard scoring run from Otte and a six-yard pass from Randl to Anthony Aguilar. Those two connected 10 times for 91 yards.
But the Chargers could not get the top needed defensively to pull the shocker.
"They stopped us on the sneak, and then we had two third downs where we just didn't execute," said D-C coach Mike Steinhaus. "And when you play a great team like that and a great program, we don't score there and they do. That's the difference in the game. It's a three-touchdown difference on the three stops that they got on us."