As Jackson McCarey sprinted by the entire Lyons Township defense en route to his first varsity touchdown, he could sense the outlook of his team’s season-opening game changing.
With the Trevians trailing late in the first half, the New Trier sophomore picked the perfect time to showcase his explosiveness, breaking loss for an 83-yard touchdown run to even the score.
“It felt like a momentum starter,” McCarey said. “It was a great feeling to score that touchdown and know that our team was back in the game.”
At the time, New Trier’s offense had mustered just 29 yards of offense and failed to record a first down over 20 minutes of game action. McCarey’s second-quarter score proved to be the spark New Trier’s offense needed, as it was the first of the Trevians’ four rushing touchdowns in a 30-23 season-opening victory against Lyons Township on Friday, Aug. 27, in La Grange.
The heroics from the new addition to New Trier’s backfield were far from over.
McCarey rushed to pay dirt for his second touchdown of the night in the third quarter when he finished off a seven-play, 82-yard drive with a 28-yard score. He finished the night with 139 rushing yards.
New Trier’s new look, two-headed rushing attack of McCarey and senior Jack Cummings helped the Trevians capture control of the game in the third quarter after a late safety in the first half gave Lyons a two-point lead, 9-7, at the break.
The Trevians opened the second half with an eight-play, 72-yard scoring drive capped off by a 2-yard score from Cummings.
The senior captain racked up 68 yards of total offense and scored two rushing touchdowns.
New Trier’s passing game also came to life in the second half as quarterback Nevan Cremascoli passed for 143 yards in the final two quarters.
Cremascoli connected with senior Josh Kirkpatrick, who finished the night with five catches for 100 yards, on several crucial third-down plays that positioned New Trier’s offense deep in Lyons’ red zone. A Cremascoli-to-Kirkpatrick bomb set up the first Cummings touchdown.
New Trier produced 23 unanswered points in the second half to take a 30-9 lead before the Lions added two late touchdowns to trim the Trevs’ margin of victory to seven points.
“I think the second half, (particularly) in the third quarter, is what we’re hoping our team will look like,” head coach Brian Doll said. “I think we looked really special in the third quarter. The adjustments were really good, and defensively we played really well in the third quarter.”
New Trier defensive lineman Ty Stringer, a sophomore, recorded two sacks, while defensive end/tight end Finn Cohan added two pass blocks on defense and three catches on offense. And freshman kicker Niki Dugandzic had an impressive debut on kickoffs and punts, consistently helping in the field-position battle
Doll said he’s happy the Trevians pulled out the victory but he called it “a pretty ugly football game for Week 1.”
“We made a lot of mistakes,” Doll said, adding that the team must clean up those miscues moving forward.
The Trevians will welcome Stevenson High School to Northfield next Friday night for their home opener for a game where both the coaching staff and players know they’ll need to execute at a higher level.
“Defensively, we have to do a better job tackling and a better job in some of the pass coverage, and we know that,” Doll said. “Offensively, we have to have longer drives so our defense can get a little more of a break.”
Cummings, one of the team’s senior leaders and also its middle linebacker, is planning to emphasize the importance of playing four complete quarters to the team.
“I think we turned off the accelerator a little bit too soon,” he said. “We showed our youth a little bit on our defense to give up those late touchdowns. We need to accelerate all the way through the fourth quarter. … I think it’s an important lesson for us to learn that we need to keep driving from the start of the game to the final whistle.”
But despite the bumpy start, the Trevians’ high expectations for this season remain intact.
“I think overall this is a great team,” Cummings said. “I think we’re really ready to go home next week and beat Stevenson and just continue to have a great season.”
Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.