CARY – The expectations are always the same for Cary-Grove’s football team, no matter how significant the graduation losses.
Tradition dictates that the Trojans expect to win the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division and make a deep playoff run. It’s what they do. In seven of the nine seasons since 2004, C-G has won the FVC or FVC Valley title. Over that span, the Trojans are 23-8 in the playoffs with one state championship and two runner-up finishes.
C-G is coming off a 13-1 season in which it lost the IHSA Class 6A state championship game to Crete-Monee, 33-26. Although only five starters return, the Trojans are ready for another highly successful season.
“We had a great season, our expectations don’t change much,” senior linebacker Matt Hughes said. “We want the conference championship and to be moving on up in the playoffs. We want to improve and get better and maintain those high expectations.”
Football practices, along with those in all other fall sports, started Wednesday. While C-G will miss star players like Kyle Norberg, Ryan Mahoney, Quinn Baker and Zach Marszal, it should have a strong offensive line, led by Trevor Ruhland and Michael Gomez, both Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selections.
C-G’s sophomore team was 9-0 last year with Ruhland, Gomez and defensive back Matt Sutherland on the varsity. Also, junior quarterback Jason Gregoire started three games late in the season while Baker was injured, which should help him adjust to the varsity level.
“When you’re in the moment, you bring up a sophomore and it was very daunting for him,” Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said. “But in retrospect, playing Prairie Ridge at home and in a playoff game was good for him. All those guys in the backfield are gone and he’s the only guy standing. It’s a different situation for him, but he’s a competitor.”
Hughes, Sutherland and defensive end Emerson Kersten are the returning starters on defense.
“Defensively, I think we should be just as good as last year,” Sutherland said. “We’re a little smaller, if you can believe that, but we have a good core coming back. Our offensive line should be good and the linemen always get the yardage. We should be able to drive the ball down the field. We have some nice speed and should have playmakers.”