CARY – Cary-Grove freshman Tyler Pennington apparently is through auditioning for positions.
After playing on the defensive line, at running back and strong safety, Pennington got his shot at fullback Friday night and was a smashing success.
Pennington ran 31 yards on his first carry and continued gouging Dundee-Crown’s defense most of the game as the Trojans rolled to a 34-0 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division football victory at Al Bohrer Field.
“It felt fantastic,” said Pennington, a 5-foot-9, 175-pounder who finished with 17 carries, 131 yards and two touchdowns. “It was great. I just tried to learn the position as fast as I could.”
C-G (2-2 overall, 2-0 FVC Valley) seized control of the game with a 94-yard scoring drive on its second possession. Pennington had gains of 31 and 14 yards to start the drive. Quarterback Jason Gregoire carried for the last 21 yards of that drive.
“[Dundee-Crown] was really confident, so we wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth and get momentum right away, especially with it being our first home game,” Gregoire said.
Gregoire scored again on the Trojans’ next possession and C-G’s defense kept the Chargers (3-1, 1-1) without a first down until their last drive of the first half.
“Being our first home game, we were really fired up,” defensive end Joey Maxwell said. “We just practiced all week getting to the ball.”
D-C reached the C-G 5-yard line in the third quarter, but was turned away. Trojans defensive back Connor Leach, playing with the second unit, saved the shutout late in the game when he pushed Chargers running back Caleb Parson out of bounds on C-G’s 15 after a 52-yard run.
“I’m with the offense, so I don’t get a chance to watch the defense that much,” Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said. “At halftime, I asked [defensive coordinator] Don [Sutherland] how they were doing and he said they were really getting to the ball.”
Gregoire completed 8 of 12 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown. The switch to Pennington, who started preseason camp at fullback, seemed to spark the offense even more.
“Tyler’s always been a guy we thought about at fullback,” Seaburg said. “He’s smart and has athletic ability and we played some tough teams, but we weren’t getting the production we needed there, so we made the switch.”
D-C had started 3-0 for the first time since 1993 and looked forward to measuring itself against the defending FVC Valley champions.
“They play so hard, they play so fast,” Chargers coach Vito Andriola said. “They’re a good football team, they’re better than us. We took a step back here, but the only thing I’m disappointed in is how we reacted.”