Chicago Fire

Who are the greatest in the history of Illinois high school football?

945629.png

Who are the greatest in the history of Illinois high school football?

How about a backfield with quarterback Otto Graham, halfbacks Red Grange and Buddy Young and fullback Mike Alstott?

Running behind an offensive line that includes Dennis Lick, Mike Kenn, Alex Agase, Jim Juriga and Tim Grunhard?

With Graham throwing passes to Kellen Winslow, Jordan Westerkamp and Bob Trumpy?

And a defense featuring linemen Simeon Rice, Dave Butz, George Connor and Bryant Young, linebackers Clay Matthews, Dick Butkus and John Foley and defensive backs Al Brosky, Abe Woodson, Johnny Lattner and George Donnelly?

You might win a few games with that bunch, right?

Are they the best football players in Illinois high school history? If not, who would you name to the all-time team? Were the players in the 1940s and 1950s comparable to the players of the 1980s and 1990s?

Longtime Illinois high school sports historian Robert Pruter reminds that many college and NFL Hall of Famers were not high achievers in high school.

Some, such as Tony Canadeo of Steinmetz, Vic Markov of Lindblom, Leo Nomellini of Crane, Pete Pihos of Austin and Hugh Gallarneau of Morgan Park, never made the Chicago Public League all-star list.

Another, Ray Nitschke of Proviso, was an All-State selection as a quarterback in 1953. He became a linebacker at Illinois and went on to become a Hall of Fame linebacker with the Green Bay Packers.

Kellen Winslow wasn't an All-Stater on East St. Louis' state runner-up in 1974. But he starred at Missouri and in the NFL and has been inducted into the college and NFL Halls of Fame.

Chris Hinton of Phillips wasn't named to the All-State team in 1979. But he was an All-American at Northwestern and played in seven Pro Bowls as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

And what about Clint Frank of Evanston? Born in St. Louis, he graduated from Evanston in 1933 and went on to star at Yale and become the third recipient of the Heisman Trophy in 1937.

One former Chicago-area product who is making a name for himself is tight end Owen Daniels of the Houston Texans of the NFL. But Daniels was a highly regarded quarterback at Naperville Central before being converted to tight end at Wisconsin.

So who are the best players at each position?

QUARTERBACKS

Otto Graham, Waukegan, 1938; Sean Price, Maine South, 2003; Donovan McNabb, Mount Carmel, 1993; Dusty Burk, Tuscola, 1997; Chuck Hartlieb, Marian Central, 1983; Mike Tomczak, Thornton Fractional North, 1980; Jon Beutjer, Wheaton Warrenville South, 1998; Kent Graham, Wheaton North, 1986; Kurt Kittner, Schaumburg, 1997; Zeke Bratkowski, Danville Schlarman, 1948; Tommy O'Connell, South Shore, 1947; Hiles Stout, Peoria Central, 1952; Ken Anderson, Batavia, 1966; Mark Carlson, Deerfield, 1975; Jim Finks, Salem, 1944; Juice Williams, Vocational, 2006; Antwaan Randle El, Thornton, 1996; Tim Brasic, Riverside-Brookfield, 2001; Jeff Hecklinski, Palatine, 1992.

Best of all: Pre-1960: Otto Graham. Post-1960: Jon Beutjer.

RUNNING BACKS

Red Grange, Wheaton, 1919; Buddy Young, Phillips, 1943; Mike Alstott, Joliet Catholic, 1991; Bill DeCorrevont, Austin, 1937; Walter Eckersall, Hyde Park, 1903; Jim Grabowski, Taft, 1961; Rashard Mendenhall, Niles West, 2004; Jimmy Smith, Kankakee Westview, 1978; Otis Armstrong, Farragut, 1968; Billy Marek, St. Rita, 1971; Lamarr Thomas, Thornton, 1965; Jim DiLullo, Fenwick, 1962; Bob McKeiver, Evanston, 1951; Leroy Jackson, Bloom, 1957; Ron Bess, Bloomington, 1963; Charley Hoag, Oak Park, 1948; Ryan Clifford, Naperville Central, 1999; Pierre Thomas, Thornton Fractional South, 2001; Johnny Karras, Argo, 1945; Scott Dierking, West Chicago, 1972; Fritz Pollard, Lane Tech, 1912; Hickey Thompson, Belleville Althoff, 1990; John Dergo, Morris, 2005; Ira Matthews, Rockford East, 1974; Wayne Strader, Geneseo, 1976; J.R. Zwierzynski, Joliet Catholic, 1999; Dan Dierking, Wheaton Warrenville South, 2006; Chris Moore, East St. Louis, 1991; Alvin Ross, West Aurora, 1980; Darryl Stingley, Marshall, 1968; Corey Rogers, Leo, 1990, Al MacFarlane, Taft, 1960.

Best of all: Pre-1960: Red Grange, Buddy Young, Bill DeCorrevont.
Post-1960: Mike Alstott, John Dergo, Billy Marek.

RECEIVERS

Kellen Winslow, East St. Louis, 1974; Jordan Westerkamp, Montini, 2011; Bob Trumpy, Springfield, 1962; Dempsey Norman, Tilden, 1983; Jon Schweighardt, Wheaton Warrenville South, 1998; Jason Avant, Carver, 2001; Nate Turner, Mount Carmel, 1986; Arthur Sargent, East St. Louis, 1985; Tai Streets, Thornton, 1994; Jimmy Smith, Blue Island Eisenhower, 1972; Cas Banaszak, Gordon Tech, 1962; Don Stonesifer, Schurz, 1945; Emery Moorehead, Evanston, 1972; John Wright, Wheaton Central, 1963; Chris Calloway, Mount Carmel, 1985; Ken Carrington, Richards, 1994; Dave Kocourek, Morton, 1954; Rich Kreitling, Fenger, 1954; Johnnie Mitchell, Simeon, 1988; Don Beebe, Kaneland, 1982.

Best of all: Pre-1960: Don Stonesifer, Dave Kocourek. Post-1960: Jordan Westerkamp, Jon Schweighardt.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Alex Agase, Evanston, 1939; Jim Juriga, Wheaton North, 1981; Mike Kenn, Evanston, 1973; Tim Grunhard, St. Laurence, 1985; Dennis Lick, St. Rita, 1971; Flozell Adams, Proviso West, 1992; Bill Fischer, Lane Tech, 1944; Eric Steinbach, Providence, 1997; Larry McCarren, Rich East, 1969; Chris Hinton, Phillips, 1979; Dick Barwegan, Fenger, 1938; Alf Bauman, Austin, 1937; Dave Diehl, Brother Rice, 1998; Ryan Diem, Glenbard North, 1996; Doug Dieken, Streator, 1966; George Musso, Collinsville, 1929; Mike Rabold, Fenwick, 1954; Lou Rymkus, Tilden, 1940; Tom Thayer, Joliet Catholic, 1978; George Trafton, Oak Park, 1916; Jeff Riney, Sterling Newman, 1990; Brian Bulaga, Marian Central, 2006; Chris Watt, Glenbard West, 2008; John Horn, Joliet Catholic, 1990; Tony Pape, Hinsdale South, 1998; Jeff Alm, Sandburg, 1985; Paul Glonek, St. Laurence, 1985; Art Riley, Thornridge, 1970; Ziggy Czarobski, Mount Carmel, 1941; Brad James, Lockport, 1985; David Molk, Lemont, 2007; Mike Jones, Richards, 2001; Tony Pashos, Lockport, 1998; Will Matte, Wheaton Warrenville South, 2007; John Sawin, Vocational, 1955.

Best of all: Pre-1960: Alex Agase, Bill Fischer, Dick Barwegan, Mike Rabold, Ziggy Czarobski. Post-1960: Dennis Lick, Tim Grunhard, Mike Kenn, Jim Juriga, Eric Steinbach.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

George Connor, De La Salle, 1941; Simeon Rice, Mount Carmel, 1992; Dave Butz, Maine South, 1968; Bryant Young, Bloom, 1989; Russell Maryland, Whitney Young, 1986; Keena Turner, Vocational, 1975; Matt Roth, Willowbrook, 2000; Alex Magee, Oswego, 2004; Chris Boskey, St. Francis de Sales, 1977; Kurt Bankson, East Leyden, 1977; Scott Zettek, St. Viator, 1975; Cleveland Crosby, East St. Louis, 1974; Tim Marshall, Weber, 1979; Chris Zorich, Vocational, 1986; Nolan Harrison, Homewood-Flossmoor, 1987; Don Thorp, Buffalo Grove, 1979; Rob Ninkovich, Lincoln-Way Central, 2001; Joe Krupa, Weber, 1951; Oliver Gibson, Romeoville, 1989; Frank Kmet, Buffalo Grove, 1987; Al Wistert, Foreman, 1938; Ed Beinor, Thornton, 1934; Earl Banks, Phillips, 19041; Leo Nomellini, Crane, 1941; Bill Pasko, Weber, 1959; Larry Kristoff, Carbondale, 1959; Jerry Rosengren, Leyden, 1957; Mike Wolfe, Mendel, 1957; Charles Ulrich, Fenger, 1947; Wayne Bock, Argo, 1952; Ralph Jecha, Argo, 1951; Pat Lennon, Joliet Catholic, 1952; Bob Lenzini, Waukegan, 1949.

Best of all: Pre-1960: George Connor, Joe Krupa, Al Wistert, Leo Nomellini. Post-1960: Dave Butz, Tim Marshall, Bryant Young, Chris Boskey.

LINEBACKERS

Dick Butkus, Vocational, 1960; Clay Matthews, New Trier, 1973; John Foley, St. Rita, 1975; Tony Furjanic, Mount Carmel, 1981; Ed Brady, Morris, 1979; Tyjuan Hagler, Bishop McNamara, 1999; Eric Kumerow, Oak Park, 1982; Dana Howard, East St. Louis, 1989; Bill Burrell, Clifton Central, 1955; Carl Brettschneider, Dundee, 1949; Erick Anderson, Glenbrook South, 1986; John Holecek, Marian Catholic, 1989; Pete Bercich, Providence, 1989; Mark Zavagnin, St. Rita, 1978; Napoleon Harris, Thornton, 1996; Brock Spak, Rockford East, 1979; Don Dufek, St. George, 1946.

Best of all: Pre-1960: Dick Butkus, Carl Brettschneider, Don Dufek.
Post-1960: Clay Matthews, John Foley, Tony Furjanic.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Al Brosky, Harrison, 1945; Abe Woodson, Austin, 1952; Johnny Lattner, Fenwick, 1949; George Donnelly, De Kalb, 1959; Dwayne Goodrich, Richards, 1995; Mike Mallory, De Kalb, 1980; Gary Fencik, Barrington, 1972; Ken Gorgal, Peru St. Bede, 1945; Tom Zbikowski, Buffalo Grove, 2002; Preston Pearson, Freeport, 1963; Mike Prior, Marian Catholic, 1980; Jack Bastable, Wheeling, 1968; Greg Turner, Driscoll, 2003; Kelvin Hayden, Hubbard, 2000; Quinn Buckner, Thornridge, 1971.

Best of all: Pre-1960: Al Brosky, Abe Woodson, Johnny Lattner, George Donnelly. Post-1960: Jack Bastable, Mike Prior, Dwayne Goodrich, Kelvin Hayden.

With tougher games awaiting, Fire miss opportunity to gain ground in standings

accam-sad.jpg
USA TODAY

With tougher games awaiting, Fire miss opportunity to gain ground in standings

Saturday got off to a good start for the Fire with New York City FC drawing at home, but the Fire were unable to gain ground in the race for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Not only did the Fire fail to gain ground, they lost ground. Philadelphia smashed the Fire 3-1 on Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium, leaving the Fire four points behind NYCFC for second and vulnerable to the chasing pack. Atlanta can pass the Fire for third place with a win against Montreal on Sunday, and still would have a game in hand.

Things don’t get any easier for the Fire with a trip at San Jose coming up on Wednesday. The Earthquakes are in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference and have one home loss this season.

While Philadelphia has won a majority of its home matches this season, it was the easiest of the three remaining road games on the Fire’s schedule. In addition to the trip to San Jose, the Fire close the regular season at Houston, another team in the playoff hunt that has just one home loss this year.

So Saturday wasn’t such a good day for the Fire.

The game marked the first start for defender Joao Meira since Aug. 16, but midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Juninho missed once again. This was the third straight game Schweinsteiger missed and two straight for Juninho.

Philadelphia took the lead on a Chris Pontius header in the 10th minute and added goals in the second half by Pontius and C.J. Sapong to secure a three-goal lead. Luis Solignac, who came off the bench to replace David Accam in the 60th minute, provided the Fire with a consolation goal, but there wasn’t another to make things interesting in the final minutes.

With four games left in the regular season, the Fire have a pair of tricky games coming up with that trip to San Jose before a big one at home against NYCFC.

Justin Wilson isn’t running away from big moments with Cubs: ‘I want the ball’

justin_wilson.jpg
AP

Justin Wilson isn’t running away from big moments with Cubs: ‘I want the ball’

MILWAUKEE – The Cubs have tried to find lower-pressure spots for Justin Wilson to work on things and rebuild his confidence without publicly burying a lefty reliever they specifically targeted before the July 31 trade deadline.

Both manager Joe Maddon and team president Theo Epstein have given Wilson the vote of confidence, though the real test will be whether or not the Cubs actually trust him in the playoffs.

“It’s an open book of communication here,” Wilson said. “We talk. I’ve talked to them and said: ‘Hey, I’m going to get right. I want the ball. I just want to keep getting back out there.’”

Even after All-Star closer Wade Davis blew his first save in more than a year, the Cubs could find big-picture optimism about their bullpen because Wilson got four outs during Saturday’s 4-3 10-inning loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

“How good was that?” Maddon said. “That’s really something looking forward. He made a nice adjustment out there. It looked really good from the side. If we get that out of him, that could be a huge difference-maker for us.”

That was the idea when the Cubs made Wilson their headliner in the package deal with catcher Alex Avila and reinforced the bullpen for another World Series run. Wilson closed for the Detroit Tigers, notching 13 saves for a bad team, putting up a 2.48 ERA in 42 appearances and shutting down left- and right-handed hitters.

Wilson – who gave up 16 walks in 40.1 innings for Detroit – allowed 16 walks and 17 hits through his first 14.1 innings as a Cub while putting up a 6.28 ERA.

On a smoking 88-degree afternoon and in front of a loud crowd of 44,067, Wilson faced the top four hitters in the Milwaukee lineup and unleashed 17 fastballs in a row, all of them buzzing around 95-97 mph across the seventh and eighth innings. Wilson struck out Eric Sogard and Neil Walker, forced Ryan Braun to fly out to left field and struck out Travis Shaw swinging.

With stuff like that, the magic number to clinch the National League Central title in the low single digits and another week left in the regular season, the Cubs hope Wilson can figure it out and become the late-inning weapon they envisioned.       

“Clearly, it hasn’t been the same for me from before the trade,” Wilson said. “I just want to keep pitching.”