Cary-Grove defense surprises Guilford

ROCKFORD – Watching Cary-Grove’s defense on video, then seeing it in person are two vastly different things.

On video, the Trojans appear fast but small and perhaps exploitable. In person, they are faster and ubiquitous.

“We thought if [C-G] scored 28 points, we’d have a shot,” Guilford coach Mel Gilfillan said. “But we couldn’t score. Their defense was much better than they looked on film. They’re not real big kids, but man, they play hard and get to the ball.”

The No. 9-seeded Trojans held No. 8 Guilford to 73 rushing yards as they defeated the Vikings, 28-17, Saturday in their IHSA Class 6A first-round playoff football game.

C-G (7-3) will host No. 1 Boylan (10-0) on Saturday, probably at 1 p.m., at Al Bohrer Field. The Trojans have been to the playoffs 10 consecutive seasons and won their first-round games every time.

“We really emphasized getting to the ball and doing what we do every day in practice,” Trojans linebacker Emerson Kersten said. “We carried what we do every day in practice, the energy, over to the game.”

The Vikings (7-3) scored late in the first half after a 57-yard pass from quarterback Nino Musso to wide receiver Sedrick Jones Jr. They also scored in the final minute of the game when Musso hit Jones with a 7-yard touchdown pass.

By then, it was far too late. C-G’s triple-option offense had racked up ample points and the defense had been too tough.

“It all goes back to the Jacobs game [a 36-35 loss in Week 7],” running back-defensive back Matt Sutherland said. “We didn’t defend [Jacobs quarterback Bret] Mooney very well, and we came into this game determined to stop a mobile quarterback and really good athletes on the outside. Everyone was working hard during practice, and it worked out the way we wanted it to.”

The Trojans scored on their first possession on quarterback Jason Gregoire’s 1-yard run. Fullback Tyler Pennington (28 carries, 111 yards) scored early in the second quarter, and after Guilford cut the lead to 14-10, C-G answered back.

Sutherland (eight carries, 75 yards) scored on a 4-yard run with 50 seconds remaining in the half.

“We played real well defensively. We hit, we got to the ball,” Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said. “Offensively, we had moments when we played well, and we had moments when we shot ourselves in the foot with some penalties and dropped passes. We have to clean those things up, but we’re going in the right direction. We’re playing next week, that’s all that matters right now.”

Gregoire hit wide receiver Jimmy Freskos for a 30-yard touchdown in the third quarter for a 28-10 lead. The defense held Guilford to 23 yards rushing in the second half and 192 total yards for the game.

“They play an odd front and mix things up with people bringing pressure off the edge,” Gilfillan said. “They get the most out of those kids, boy. It was a great [defensive] effort.”