CARY – On its surface, the comparison may seem like a stretch. But Brad Seaburg wanted to make sure his point came across loud and clear this week to his Cary-Grove offensive linemen.
As the Trojans began preparations for Saturday’s Class 6A state semifinal against Lake Forest, Seaburg made certain that Scouts junior linebacker Trent Williams got special notice. Williams registered a school-record six sacks in last week’s quarterfinal win over Niles Notre Dame, presenting a challenge unlike many C-G has seen this season.
On a Lake Forest defensive line that combines strength and athleticism, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Williams is the focal point, leaving Seaburg to reach into the NFL to give his players what they will be in for on Saturday.
“We told the kids he’s kind of like a Clay Matthews,” Seaburg said. “He’s a linebacker, but he’s got a real good motor and he’s going to be pretty tough to block.
“I really haven’t seen one like this guy – he’s just a constant threat off the edge.”
Williams was credited with 10 tackles last week after last week’s win when Scouts’ coach Chuck Spagnoli told reporters that opportunities to make plays constantly arise when players work as hard as Williams does.
Williams took the performance in stride, taking more satisfaction in the fact Lake Forest was advancing, keeping its hopes for a state title alive..
“I was just playing hard – that’s what the coaches teach us to do and that’s what I did,” Williams told reporters after the quarterfinal win. “It’s a great feeling to get to go on to the next round.
“One more game, baby.”
In addition to Williams, who has the ability to change directions quickly, the Trojans also must contend with All-State, 6-foot-5, 240-pound defensive lineman Thomas Kutschke, who adds to a stout defensive unit that will try to contain the Trojans’ potent triple-option defense.
Although C-G has run into its share of hard-nosed defenses – including against Lake Zurich, Crystal Lake South and last week against Crystal Lake Central – Saturday’s challenge may be among the most daunting. Lake Forest’s defense has allowed an average of 13.5 points a game this season but faces the Trojans, who score an average of 36.8 points a game.
Still, Seaburg and his players understand that Saturday’s test won’t be an easy one – especially with a trip to the state championship game on the line. The Trojans’ linemen won’t change their expectations for themselves, although they could be pushed more than they have been all season.
“Every week, especially in the playoffs, [opponents] become the biggest challenge you’ve had just because the stakes get higher and the teams get definitely better,” senior lineman Kyle Matthiesen said. “But we make it a point all year to play to our level ... and we feel like we’ve been playing with the same intensity and technique level all year.
“Hopefully, the level we set is enough to win.”
Coming off a 7-0 win over Crystal Lake Central when the Trojans’ offense struggled to get into the end zone, Matthiesen believes the line found a way to get better in what has been C-G’s closest game to date. Seaburg said the Trojans will continue to rely on its line to get its offensive playmakers –quarterback Quinn Baker and backs Ryan Mahoney and Kyle Norberg – going against the Scouts’ quick defensive line.
“We realize our best defense is going to be our ability to move the chains and get consistent first downs,” Seaburg said. “As good as [Lake Forest’s] offense is, it puts even more pressure on our offense to get those first downs so you keep their offense off the field.”