Opponents can get dizzy trying to game plan for Cary-Grove’s triple-option, run-and-run-some-more offense.
The Trojans bring three different styles of running to the offense. Fullback Kyle Norberg is a power running back with big-play ability, quarterback Quinn Baker can slice through holes on the defense on keepers, but versatile back Ryan Mahoney always seems to find ways to make an impact, whether it be in the running game or more recently the passing game.
“Ryan is doing something that we’ve rarely done in the past,” coach Brad Seaburg said. “We have spread him out as a receiver as well, and what it does is it adds another dimension to our offense and it puts another
wrinkle into what our opponents have to prepare for.”
Teams often have found themselves unprepared to handle the speed that Mahoney brings on sweep rushes. He is able to turn the corner and move upfield and is a threat in the passing game as well, making him a dual threat that is hard to stop.
“He brings tons of natural speed on offense that’s uncoachable,” Seaburg said. “He is also real smart and has a good understanding of what we’re trying to do on offense. And since he has gone through three years of this system now, he really knows what to do.”
C-G features an effective, yet complicated option offense as Baker and Norberg are able to pound the ball up the middle. Add in Mahoney’s receiving presence and outside running game to the mix and the Trojans are tough to stop.
“We have a bunch of guys who can really run the ball,” Baker said. “Ryan is a nice change of pace to what we do. A lot of time we will see the middle clog up after we run the ball to Norberg but when that happens we have the perfect answer. Mahoney is really quick and we can kick it out to him with success.”
“He’s just great,” Norberg added. “When he gets the ball, it’s bound to work out. Our line does a great job on the outside blocking, and he has some really good field vision.”
The Trojans found success on the outside with Mahoney on Saturday against Crystal Lake Central when the senior rushed for the only touchdown of the game – an 8-yard scoring run at the end of the first half. That was just part of his performance that earned him Northwest Herald football athlete of the week honors this week.
Chicago St. Patrick also felt Mahoney’s presence a week earlier when he was able to turn upfield nearly every time he touched the ball. His running and pass catching ability is something that Cary-Grove feels is a luxury to have.
The senior has over 600 yards rushing and nearly 300 yards receiving to go along with eight total touchdowns, all while missing four and a half games. Seaburg also said that he brings an intimidation factor to the game as a punt and kick returner. In the St. Patrick game, Mahoney gave the Trojans great field position multiple times, and Crystal Lake Central’s only kickoff went out of bounds.
That luxury is appreciated much more now as the Trojans had to play without the three-year starter when he injured his left ankle during Week 3. He missed four games, and it admittedly took a little while to get back into form.
“My first game back was a little nerve-racking,” Mahoney said. “It was against Dundee-Crown and it was our second-to-last game. The first time I got the ball, I caught a pass and I almost didn’t know what to do, and it was like, ‘Ah, man’ and I was a little shocked because I wasn’t used to that feeling.”
He is now back to 100 percent and said that the ankle isn’t even in the back of his mind anymore and said that although he wishes he could have not missed any time and played during that four-week stretch, he says there are some positives to missing some time.
“Honestly, I’d probably be a little more shaken up at this point than I am right now,” Mahoney said. “And the rest of my body isn’t too tired either. It’s kind of like I’m in midseason form. Looking back, the injury has helped from a resting standpoint.”
“When they are hurt, it wasn’t a blessing,” Seaburg said of injuries to Baker and Mahoney. “But when you go through a whole season, there is a lot of wear and tear and I can see now, especially in practice, that they have fresh legs and they are a bit quicker.
“Another aspect of having him back is that he is valuable in ways that he might now know. We bring a lot of kids up and they get to see what our expectation is for a varsity-caliber player. And as far as footwork, pad level, timing and take-offs, he is the guy for them to watch at that standpoint.”