Cary-Grove senior Quinn Priester will miss the season opener on Aug. 24 against Crystal Lake South because of baseball commitments with a national showcase event this week.
Priester, a 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher committed to TCU, is competing in the Perfect Game All-American Classic at San Diego’s Petco Park. The week-long event concludes Sunday and Priester will return to Trojans’ football practices on Monday.
C-G coach Brad Seaburg said that will leave Priester short of the 12 IHSA-mandated practices to play in the opener. Priester started at quarterback last season and rushed for 638 yards for the 7-4 Trojans.
Senior Ben McDonald, who started at linebacker last season, has taken a lot of the summer work at quarterback in C-G’s option offense while Priester has been involved with baseball.
“We’ve known this all along,” Seaburg said. “Ben’s repping at quarterback right now.”
Seaburg wouldn't commit to Priester at quarterback when the senior returns in Week 2. While Seaburg left the option open, he said Priester could also play at split end and defensive back.
“It wouldn’t be fair to Ben, Ben’s doing a really nice job,” Seaburg said. “(Quinn) has been repping quarterback, he’s been repping split end, he played both positions as a sophomore, backing up Bobby Collins and playing split end. He’s kind of doing both this summer. We’re getting all of our contingency plans in place. He’s a rare kid.”
The Perfect Game All-American Classic has 50 of the top high school seniors from around the country playing for the week. The proceeds go to pediatric cancer research and treatment. During the week, players will visit Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego and talk to patients.
Priester attended the event last year as a junior, but his age group required that he only miss three days of practice, so he was able to play quarterback in the opener. Priester was backup quarterback and starting safety as a sophomore.
Family affair: New R-B coach Mike Noll added former Grayslake North coach Steve Wood to his coaching staff as defensive coordinator. Wood has two sons, junior Dalton and freshman Brock, in the Rockets’ program.
Wood coached the Knights for the program's first 11 seasons and took them to the Class 6A playoffs in his last five years. North was 49-57 under Wood, who stepped away after the 2016 season to watch his sons play. Noll jumped at the opportunity to get Wood on his staff.
“I live right there, about a mile away (from North),” Noll said. “I called him and set up a meeting. He’s got a vested interest here. We have a pretty common philosophy and it’s going to work great.”
Noll also has Dennis Hutchinson, one of his former players at McHenry and a current teacher at McHenry, on his staff. Former Woodstock quarterback Brandon Benda, a teacher at R-B, also is on the staff, as is former Grayslake North assistant Brian Johnson.
One responsibility: Noll retired as teacher from Glenbrook South and now can concentrate his efforts solely on coaching, like Bill Mitz has done for eight seasons at Jacobs. Noll said he will miss the classroom.
“It’s going to be a profound adjustment,” Noll said. “I’m excited about it, but I also have mixed emotions about not being able to teach history anymore. I loved it. To me, teaching world history and U.S. history was like teaching a story, and it’s a lot of fun. The longer I taught history, the more I liked it. It’ll be an adjustment. I have a lot of time for football. You know how coaches are, you teach, you have AD duties and have football, you’re running … you can never get it all done. It’s not going to be like that anymore, which is OK.”
Tough foes: This is the last season the Fox Valley Conference will have a nonconference game on the schedule, as Burlington Central moves from the Kishwaukee River Conference to the FVC next year. That will make a 10-team conference and a full slate of league games for football.
Four FVC teams have games with DuPage Valley Conference opponents, a league long considered one of the best in the state. Cary-Grove faces Naperville Central, a Class 8A quarterfinalist, in the regular-season finale. Huntley has Naperville North for its nonconference game, Jacobs plays Neuqua Valley and Prairie Ridge plays Waubonsie Valley.
In other nonconference games, Crystal Lake South gets DeKalb, while Dundee-Crown gets Grayslake North. Both DeKalb and North made it to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs last season.