New Trier football entered the opening week of the 2023 season with revenge in mind, but the Hersey Huskies made sure that the only thing the Trevians received was frustration.
The Huskies commanded the game from start to finish, defeating New Trier 30-12 on Friday, Aug. 25, in Arlington Heights. It is the second straight year that the Trevians’ season has started with an opening-night defeat against Hersey, a team that recorded a 9-0 regular season in 2022.
“They’re a good team, it’s a great environment, and it’s a great high school place to play,” New Trier head coach Brian Doll said. “We struggled with some of the same issues last year: We were kind of slow out of the gate and we played pretty tentatively, and I thought that’s the way we played tonight. I thought we were tentative defensively and offensively we just didn’t make plays when we needed to.”
The Trevians’ disappointing night started early when the team’s defense seemed poised to stall Hersey’s first drive of the game but could not force the Huskies off the field.
After allowing two big plays, New Trier’s defense pinned Hersey into a third-and-6 situation. But Huskies running back Nasir McKenzie evaded several tacklers behind the line of scrimmage and found the line to gain.
On the same drive, the Trevians defense once again forced Hersey into a third-and-long but a facemask penalty extended the Huskies drive, which ended on a McKenzie 17-yard scoring run.
“Defensively, we had two really good chances to stop them on that first drive,” Doll said. “ … We just can’t afford to have that happen against a good team.”
Hersey added to its lead midway through the second quarter when quarterback Colton Gumino and star wideout Carson Grove connected on a 53-yard touchdown. The Huskies then jumped out to a 16-0 lead when they blocked a New Trier punt attempt that rolled back through the end zone.
McKenzie rushed home his second of three touchdowns on the night only a few minutes later to give Hersey a 23-0 lead heading into the half. The senior back tacked on a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give the Huskies a 30-point lead.
New Trier’s first points of the season came on a safety of its own in the fourth quarter. The Trevs scored again on the ensuing series when junior kicker Niki Dugandzic drilled a 45-yard field goal.
The Trevs added their only touchdown of the night late in the fourth when quarterback CJ Donnelly, who relieved starter Patrick Heneghan, connected with Ben Zieziula on a 32-yard score.
New Trier’s offense struggled to figure out Hersey’s defense all night long. The Trevians mustered only 79 offensive yards in the first half and gained just two first downs. They finished with just under 100 yards in the second half, but nearly half of that total came against the Huskies second unit.
“They played really clean defensively,” Doll said of the Huskies. “They looked like they were in midseason form. They were not making mistakes and we had some errors where we really got taken advantage of up front. … We just made some assignment mistakes up front and they got clean on us and they made plays.”
The path ahead gets no easier for the Trevs as they will head on the road again next Friday, Sept. 1, to take on Yorkville High School. The Foxes won 10 games last season and made it to the final 16 in the Class 7A playoffs before bowing out against perennial powerhouse Batavia. Yorkville opened this season with a 30-6 win over Plainfield South.
The Trevs are hoping to avoid the same slow start that troubled them last season when they began the campaign with three straight losses. And although Week 1 didn’t turn out as planned, expectations and hopes are still high in Northfield.
“We have a lot to grow on but I honestly think we’ll be a good football team this year and I think this was a tough opener for us,” Doll said.
New Trier could also be without two key starters as linebacker Aidan Corboy (neck/back) and wide receiver Trey Meyers (knee) left the game with significant injuries.
In a scary scene, Corboy was placed on a stretcher and left the field via ambulance. He was able to move his extremities, The Record was told.
“I’m pretty bothered right now by some of the injuries, so I’m thinking about those kids and I’m hoping they’re OK, but I’m also pretty realistic that they’re injured and so that’s been a hard part to swallow for us with two really key kids for us,” Doll said.
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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.