CHAMPAIGN – Cary-Grove is eager to follow a tried-and-true Hollywood trend.
The Trojans produced a hit three years ago by winning the Class 6A football state championship game. Now, C-G is looking to make a sequel.
The actors will be different. Quinn Baker will star as quarterback Tyler Krebs, Kyle Norberg will play the part of fullback Eric Chandler. Ryan Mahoney and Kaene Connington should fill the roles of running backs Alex Hembrey and Steve Hapanovich quite nicely.
If the Trojans (13-0) can take down Crete-Monee (13-0) in their 1 p.m. Class 6A state championship game at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium, C-G will have created another box-office smash.
“It’s really special,” Baker said. “Being able to separate ourselves from [the 2009 team] while still being on that level would be really cool because you always want to be associated with them. They were such a great team.”
Most of the current Trojans were there at Memorial Stadium three years ago when the 2009 team defeated Providence Catholic, 34-17. A handful of them, Baker included, were on the sideline as freshman call-ups for the playoffs.
“I hear from them because I knew them and they were at my house a lot,” said Baker, whose brother Hayden was a senior center on the 2009 team. “They’re definitely encouraging us and all getting together for the game too. They’ll be there.”
Defensive end Mickey Duncan hopes future Trojans will look at them the way the current players regard the 2009 team.
“I feel like everyone has tried to compare themselves to the ‘09 team,” Duncan said. “To put ourselves up there with highest tier team Cary-Grove has ever seen would be a great thing. It’s our own team and we’re proud of that, too.”
Trojans coach Brad Seaburg was the sophomore coach in 2009 and took over for retiring coach Bruce Kay in the spring of 2011. So this title game will be different for him as well.
“It’s so hard in that championship week to have a chance to reflect and think about, ‘What’s it going to be like?’ ” Seaburg said. “Between all of the preparations you have, the congratulatory emails that you want to respond to and media needs and things, you don’t get a lot of opportunities to sit back and soak it all in. We’ll probably get a feel for that later on in the week. As it gets closer, we may get a sense of, ‘This is happening.’ ”
Toss in Prairie Ridge’s Class 6A title from last season and the Fox Valley Conference could have three state champions in four seasons.
The Trojans’ option attack racked up 512 total yards, all rushing, in their 42-21 semifinal victory over Lake Forest. C-M, which was ranked No. 1 in Class 6A all season by The Associated Press, defeated Lemont, 28-27, in its semifinal.
The Warriors’ Laquon Treadwell is considered the best receiver prospect in the nation by some scouting services and has 75 receptions for 1,339 yards and 15 touchdowns. Wide receiver Lance Lenoir (64, 1,046, 14) is not far behind, so the Trojans’ defense likely will face its toughest challenge of the season.
The Warriors returned many of their top players from a 10-1 team that was knocked out by eventual state runner-up Peoria Richwoods in the second round.
“It’s something they’ve earned,” Warriors coach Jerry Verde said. “Most of these guys have been working at this for two years on varsity.”
C-M trailed Lemont last week before rallying for a 28-27 victory with a late touchdown and two-point conversion.
“Lemont is an excellent team and we were in a situation where we were down and able to come back,” Verde said. “When we were driving for that touchdown, the decision to go for two had already been made. [Quarterback] Marcus [Terrell] made a great play.”
Like Seaburg, Verde knows his defense will be tested by a prolific offense.
“[Cary-Grove] is just an excellent team, the more film you watch, the more respect you have for them,” Verde said. “They run their option, it’s almost scientific the way they do it. Their offensive line fires off the ball better than any we’ve played.”