Created:Saturday, November 17, 2012 12:22 a.m.CDT
Updated:Saturday, November 17, 2012 12:32 a.m.CDT
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Northwest Herald football game of the week: Cary-Grove at Lake Forest

No. 1 Cary-Grove (12-0)

at No. 10 Lake Forest (9-3)

4 p.m. Saturday

When Cary-Grove has the ball

We know the Trojans are a running team and usually throw the ball less than five times a game. They run the triple-option offense as well as any team in the state, with QB Quinn Baker making the decisions. His main weapons include FB Kyle Norberg, RB Ryan Mahoney and RB Kaene Connington. SE Zach Marszal and RB Kasey Fields could also play a role if needed. Norberg is a load running between the tackles and has good speed. He leads the area in rushing yards with 1,933, TDs with 23 and his 10.3 average per carry also is the best. Norberg had 136 yards last week, but was kept out of the end zone. Mahoney, their outside runner and speed guy, has 617 rushing yards, six TDs and a 10.2 average. Mahoney had 81 yards and the only TD in a 7-0 quarterfinal win against CL Central. Connington (245, TD) doesn’t get many carries but plays an important role in the offense and can make a big play when needed. Baker is kind of a slasher who is good at finding some room to run. He has 876 rushing yards and 13 TDs, but was held to 47 yards last week. The senior has 433 passing yards, five TDs and two picks, and has completed 51.2 percent of his passes. Mahoney (280, 2) and Marszal (234, 2) lead the Trojans in receptions with 10 and 12 respectively. CL Central gave Lake Forest a pretty good blueprint on how to stop C-G. They prevented big plays that C-G usually gets and they tackled very well all over the field. They also did a good job in the middle of the field and played a very physical game from start to finish. The Trojans average 36.8 points a game and the Scouts give up an average of 14.6 a game. Lake Forest has several play-makers on a defense that has bailed out it’s team on several occasions and seems to get big plays when needed. DB Geno Quaid had two picks last week and LB Trent Williams had six sacks, 10 tackles and a big fumble recovery. C-G will also be challenged by a tough Scouts defensive line. The Trojans fumbled on their final three possessions last week and have to take care of the ball this week.

When Lake Forest has the ball

The Scouts run a spread offense and are pretty balanced. QB Andrew Clifford has good size at 6-foot-4 and a strong arm. The senior has thrown for over 2,000 yards and had 162 yards passing and two TDs last week against Niles Notre Dame. Two of Clifford’s favorite targets are WRs Nick Giordano and David Glynn, who each have about 40 catches this season. Giordano had TD catches of six and 61 yards in last week’s win. The Scouts leading rusher is Stephen Cirame, who had rushing TDs of 1 and 56 yards last week, and has over 900 yards on the season. Cirame has good speed and seems like he is always ready to break a big run. They put in a halfback-option play before last week’s game and it worked, so they might do something similar this week with a trick play. Lake Forest played a real up-tempo game last week hoping to tire out the Notre Dame defense in the second half so C-G will have to be ready for the same. The Scouts average 28.8 points a game and the Trojans defense gives up an average of 11.7. The Trojans defense shutout CL Central last week and limited them to just 180 total yards, 46 on the ground. They also have plenty of guys that can make big plays and while they do bend they don’t often break. The defensive backs will need a big game and getting pressure on the QB will help that effort against a good passing team. This will be one of the best offenses C-G has faced.

What to expect

This is the Scouts’ first semifinal appearance since 1978, so you can bet the place will be packed and full of energy. The Trojans will try to get their high powered offense back on track after being held to just seven points in their quarterfinal win. You will see each team’s speed showcased playing on the field turf at Lake Forest. Both of these defenses are playing well so it might come down to which one makes the big play late in the game. Both teams will do what they have done all season. C-G will run the ball and rely on defense, while Lake Forest will spread it out and hope their defense can stop the option. The Trojans will try to keep the Scouts’ offense off the field by moving the chains and winning time of possession.

Les’ prediction

Cary-Grove by 7