CARY – Cary-Grove makes the football playoffs every season with more expectation than hope of sticking around for a while.
The Trojans started a current string of 10 consecutive playoff appearances in 2004 when they advanced to the IHSA Class 7A state championship game. C-G has won its first-round game every year of that streak and is 7-2 in second-round games.
That’s a trend the No. 9-seeded Trojans hope continues when they host No. 1 Boylan (10-0) in a Class 6A second-round playoff game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Al Bohrer Field.
“We hop on being consistent in the offseason and we know that consistency in the offseason kind of carries over to the season,” Trojans linebacker Emerson Kersten said. “Giving a consistent effort every day, never taking plays off, is what it’s all about.”
C-G will be meeting a Boylan team that has won 13 of its past 14 playoff games. The Titans won the Class 6A state championship in 2010 and won Class 7A in 2011.
C-G’s longer history, a 24-8 postseason record since 2004, is quite impressive itself.
“It’s a combination of so many factors and it all probably comes down to our kids buying into our system,” Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said. “That encompasses our weightroom, our summer program, our leadership meetings.
“You look at the whole big picture and there’s not one piece of it that’s all the answer together. That’s really been the measure and consistency. I don’t know how to explain it, it’s all part of the program.”
C-G, like many teams, brings up some freshmen and sophomores for the playoffs. Linebacker Matt Hughes says that has a profound effect on younger players.
“A big part of it is we bring up the sophomores and freshmen during the week they give us a really good look and helps us focus,” Hughes said. “It pulls the team together and builds camaraderie. Everyone is one big team fighting for the same thing together.”
Watching quarterfinals, semifinals and state title games – the Trojans have been in three in nine seasons – may inspire those younger players during the next offseason.
“With the efforts we put in in practice we set ourselves up to be in that position in the postseason,” Kersten said. “It’s kind of what we expect all season long.”
Seaburg said bars of achievement are set and raised constantly, which plays an integral part in the playoff mindset.
“Everyone has the expectation to go as far as we can and win as many games as possible,” Hughes said.