CHAMPAIGN – For 14 weeks, Brad Seaburg threw an array of schemes at his Cary-Grove scout team offense, asking a group of reserves to replicate what the Trojans’ starting defense would have to stop that week.
The final week of practice, simulating Crete-Monee's spread offense, proved to be the biggest challenge of the season.
Going in, Seaburg knew Crete-Monee would present offensive obstacles C-G hadn’t seen before Saturday’s Class 6A state championship. He was also well aware the Warriors would operate the offense at a speed the Trojans weren't used to. But in Saturday’s 33-26 victory at Memorial Stadium, Crete-Monee's playmakers – starting with Laquon Treadwell – were too much.
“They made plays we’ve never seen before,” Seaburg said. "It was just unbelievable."
Three of Crete-Monee’s five touchdowns came on plays of more than 50 yards – including two by Treadwell, who scored on a 69-yard run and a 57-yard touchdown reception. The Warriors also connected on a 52-yard touchdown pass to Lance Lenoir, needing no more than 1 minute, 5 seconds on each of the three scoring drives and requiring only 8 seconds on the pass to Lenoir that gave the Warriors a 27-16 lead.
“It was tough (to simulate) – we knew what was coming and they don't have that complex of an offense,” linebacker Brock Bussenger said. “But they just have a lot of guys that can make plays.”
Even though Crete-Monee didn’t wander too far from what the Trojans had seen on film, the Warriors’ overall team speed and athleticism were greater than what C-G could prepare for. Treadwell had 93 yards on six carries and had another 85 yards on six catches, living up to billing of being the top receiving prospect in the country.
Treadwell and Lenoir also benefited from quarterback Marcus Terrell, whose quickness and elusiveness kept plays and drives alive, frustrating C-G’s defense.
“They just had tremendous athletes across the board,” Trojans’ cornerback Zach Marszal said. “They really showed that they are top-notch … the [firsthand] look at them is just overwhelming.
“They’ve got the size, they’ve got the speed, and you just can’t simulate that.”
Treadwell set the tone with his 69-yard run when he sprinted down the sideline and made a cut on Marszal, who appeared to have an angle on the speedy receiver. With one move, though, Treadwell finished off the long scoring run, giving the Trojans' defense an early glimpse of what it would have to deal with all day.
“On that first drive, we knew we needed a big play from someone,” Treadwell said. “We couldn’t start off slow and let them score first and give them momentum. So we had to jump on them early.”
As athletic as the Warriors were offensively, Seaburg said perhaps even more impressive was how physical Crete-Monee plays. As hard-nosed as Seaburg expected the Warriors to be, linebacker Nyles Morgan and Treadwell – who played linebacker and safety Saturday – proved to be even more of a handful than what the Trojans had planned for.
The speed overwhelmed C-G, which ran for 263 yards on 70 carries, averaging 3.8 yards a carry.
“All those guys were just flying to the ball,” said Trojans fullback Kyle Norberg, who admitted he sustained several bruises after being hit all day. “But I think you just have to buckle down and roll with the punches. We knew it was going to be physical – we just didn’t expect it to be that fast.”