Special teams come up huge in Cary-Grove's win over McHenry

In the opening minute of the second quarter of Friday's Fox Valley Conference game between McHenry and Cary-Grove, a huge turning point unfolded.

With the Trojans leading, 7-0, C-G senior Jack Rocen fielded a Warriors punt at his own 34-yard line.

He raced up the left sideline, which suddenly became clogged. A few McHenry jerseys briefly got hands on him, as the play appeared stalled.

But Rocen somehow reversed course dramatically, in Barry Sanders-esque fashion, sprinting laterally back to the opposite side of the field.

He then raced up the right sideline, and found the end zone for a thrilling, but exhausting, 66-yard touchdown.

It was the turning point in the unbeaten Trojans' eventual 42-19 victory.

Rocen also had a punt return for a TD in a Week 1 win over Burlington Central, giving him two in the first theee weeks.

"I didn't return kicks on varsity until this season," Rocen said. "So to do something like this to help my team win ... it's pretty awesome. And yes, I was a little winded.

"But I've gotta give all the credit to my blockers. They never gave up on the play. Without their relentless effort, I never make it to the end zone there."

Special teams were a huge factor for the Trojans (3-0, 3-0 FVC).

They also got a 62-yard kick return from senior Andrew Prio to start the second half. He scored moments later on an 8-yard TD run, giving his team a commanding 35-0 lead.

C-G converted 6 extra points, thanks to the strong leg of junior kicker Jadon Apgar.

During halftime warmups, Apgar belted a practice field goal off a tee from 55 yards, which cleared the crossbar by roughly 10 yards.

"Jadon had the game-winning field goal against Crystal Lake Central for us last week, too," C-G coach Brad Seaburg said. "Our special teams is just another element of our team we expected to perform this way, coming into the season.

Sophomore fullback Logan Abrams ran the ball 15 times for 130 yards, including a pair of rushing scores. One from 3 yards in the second quarter, then another on a 30-yard scamper in the third.

"We're playing with a lot of confidence as an offensive line right now," C-G senior guard Samuel Diaz said. "Everyone worked pretty hard this offseason, and that's carried over into the regular season. We feel like we've been well-prepared."

C-G quarterback Peyton Seaburg completed two of his three passes for 57 yards. Both his completions were TDs. One to Jake Hornok, the other to Prio.

"Even though were a running team, mixing some play action in and seeing it have success gives us confidence, Peyton Seaburg said. "It's one thing to do it in practice. But when it works on the field, it makes us feel like we are continuing to make progress.

McHenry (0-3, 0-3 FVC) showed real grit late, scoring three touchdowns and 19 points in the game's final 9:59.

Elijah Guardyak caught a pass deflected high in the air, then returned it 43 yards, to put McHenry on the board early in the fourth.

Aiden Schuldt then found the end zone with 3:32 left in the game, courtesy of a 1-yard run.

The Warriors finished the scoring as time expired, when Jonathan Wiseman nabbed a 4-yard TD pass from Joseph Pineda as the final horn sounded.

"We're a very young team," McHenry coach Jeff Schroeder said. "But we're building something here, and we are eventually going to become a playoff football team in the future.

"I'm extremely proud of our guys. They keep working hard. They're all willing to learn. And the end of this game is definitely something for us to build off of."

The Trojans will travel to Jacobs next Friday night. McHenry will face Dundee-Crown.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.