Cary-Grove advances to quarterfinals with win over Highland Park

Any IHSA playoff bracket without Cary-Grove in the quarterfinal round would seem incomplete.

The Trojans have, after all, been to the quarterfinals in either Class 6A or 7A 15 times in the last 19 seasons.

"We're not just trying to get to the quarterfinals; we're trying to go to state every year," C-G quarterback Peyton Seaburg said. "It's the next step in the process of getting to state."

The Trojans' relentless offense rolled up another huge game, as No. 3-seeded C-G defeated No. 11 Highland Park 49-29 in their Class 6A second-round playoff game Saturday at Wolters Field.

C-G (9-2) will host No. 7 Geneva (9-2) in a quarterfinal game next Saturday at Al Bohrer Field. C-G athletic director Ryan Ludwig expects it to be a 1 p.m. start. Geneva beat Lake Forest 42-7 on Saturday.

Cary-Grove jumped out to a 21-0 lead early, scoring on its first three possessions. The Giants (7-4) tried to put some pressure on C-G and finished with 409 total yards, but when Highland Park scored, the Trojans quickly answered.

"I thought we played well," C-G coach Brad Seaburg said. "They had a couple of plays that got us and kept them in the game. If we eliminate a couple of mistakes, it would have been a little bit different.

"But when you get into the playoffs, everything is different. Everybody's playing for their life, everybody's playing as hard as they can, and they scrap and they claw, so give credit to Highland Park for playing hard."

Highland Park quarterback David Finfer hit Andrew Cortes for a 67-yard touchdown, and the Giants converted the two-point attempt to make it 28-15 early in the third quarter. C-G came right back and scored five plays later on Holden Boone's second touchdown run. The Trojans' defense made a stop, and C-G scored again on Andrew Prio's 27-yard run to make it 42-15.

Prio finished with 199 yards on eight carries with two touchdowns. Fullback Logan Abrams carried 20 times for 111 yards and two scores. Peyton Seaburg hit tight end Luca Vivaldelli for C-G's other touchdown.

"Our offense came out and really executed well," linebacker Connor Anderson said. "The defense was good in the first half and fell apart a bit in the second half. We were struggling, but the offense had our backs the entire game. They executed for us and got it done."

Offensive lineman Anthony Cruz had a simple explanation for C-G's success.

"Our physicality is one of the biggest parts of it," Cruz said. "Every position on the field, we're all physical people, and we're pushing really hard and driving, finishing to the whistle.

"We're getting points, that's all that matters. That's what we need to do. We need to keep moving forward."

C-G missed the playoffs last season for the first time in 18 years, but has now won seven consecutive postseason games and 14 of its last 15 playoff games.

Finfer completed 24-of-36 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Nick Blumer caught 10 balls for 104 yards.

"I was proud of our toughness and how we played," Giants coach Anthony Kopp said. "Cary's a historically very good team, physical team, and we definitely knew we had a fight coming our way, and we wanted to play hard, and I think we did.

"They're very good at what they do, physical line, physical backs. ... You can tell they just work it to perfection, and they do a great job with it."

Cary-Grove's Peyton Seaburg finds running room against Highland Park in second-round IHSA Class 6A playoff action at Wolters Field in Highland Park Saturday. Patrick Kunzer/for Shaw Local
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