Rebuilding Cary-Grove shuts out McHenry

Cary-Grove’s offense didn’t resemble last season’s well-oiled machine, but the defense stepped up and led the way to an 18-0 win against visiting McHenry on Saturday.

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Cary-Grove’s Jack Rocen (34) knocks the ball just enough to prevent McHenry’s Jacob Zarek (1) from making the catch.

Cary-Grove’s Jack Rocen (34) knocks the ball just enough to prevent McHenry’s Jacob Zarek (1) from making the catch.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

No one who watched last season’s Class 6A state championship game will ever forget it. The game will be remembered for decades. Cary-Grove beat mighty East St. Louis with an astounding display of discipline and toughness.

It was the performance that every high school football coach dreams about. The Trojans reached the summit of Illinois high school football, finishing as undefeated state champions and the top-ranked team in the final Super 25.

Most of those players are in college now, and there’s only one direction to go when you reach the top: down. But Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg is starting a new adventure, one that every dad treasures. He’s coaching son Peyton, the Trojans’ starting quarterback.

“He’s a normal Cary-Grove kid,” Seaburg said. “It’s been good. He’s trying to improve like everyone.”

Peyton Seaburg and the Trojans’ offense didn’t resemble last season’s well-oiled machine, but the defense stepped up and led the way to an 18-0 victory Saturday against visiting McHenry.

“We’ve improved every week, and that’s been our whole goal,” Brad Seaburg said. “Our defense took huge strides today. They played outstanding. Gavin [Henriques] has three interceptions in the last two games.”

Cary-Grove (3-1, 3-1 Fox Valley) grabbed four interceptions and forced a fumble. Sophomore linebacker Charlie Ciske had two sacks. He’s one of several young players stepping up on varsity for a tradition-rich program.

“It’s a lot to take in, but I’m so happy to be part of it,” Ciske said. “What I’m learning impacts more than just football. It helps you be more mentally, emotionally and physically tough and just a better, stronger person overall.”

Colin Desmet had 11 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown. The senior running back/linebacker also snared an interception.

“A lot of kids are stepping up into new roles this season, so it’s been a process,” Desmet said.

Desmet’s one-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter opened the scoring. Seaburg threw a 37-yard pass to Desmet in the third quarter to make it 12-0. The Trojans missed all three extra points.

Seaburg was 3-for-7 for 75 yards and a TD with one interception.

McHenry quarterback Dominick Caruso threw those four interceptions but also made a lot happen. The senior was 14-for-27 for 245 yards. Jacob Zarek had six catches for 166 yards for the Warriors (0-4, 0-4).

“McHenry played well,” Seaburg said. “They played hard and tackled real well. We couldn’t get anything sustained offensively.”

Expectations are always high at Cary-Grove, but this is likely a rebuilding year. Jacobs and Prairie Ridge are the Fox Valley leaders.

The Trojans play at Prairie Ridge on Friday. It’s a huge rivalry and traditionally one of the biggest games in Class 6A every season.

“There’s a lot of things about that game,” Seaburg said. “It’s two quality high schools and two programs that have historically had success. I know our kids look forward to it, and our fans do, too.”

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