How long have you been watching high school football? Who are the best players you ever saw? Well, I have been covering high school football in the Chicago area since 1968. In the last 40 years, here are the best players I have observed. Do you agree? Who are your choices?
Remember, we're talking about performance at the high school level, not what they accomplished in college for the NFL. For example, Thornridge's Quinn Buckner was an outstanding high school football player but opted to concentrate on basketball after his freshman year at Indiana. Some players didn't play in college because of injuries or academic problems.
TE: Johnny Mitchell, Simeon, 1989.
WR: Jon Schweighardt, Wheaton Warrenville South, 1999.
FL: Jimmy Smith, Blue Island Eisenhower, 1973.
L: Dennis Lick, St. Rita, 1972.
L: Jim Juriga, Wheaton North, 1982.
L: Mike Kenn, Evanston, 1974.
L: Tom Thayer, Joliet Catholic, 1979.
L: Art Riley, Thornridge, 1971.
QB: Kent Graham, Wheaton North, 1987.
B: Howard Jones, Evanston, 1973.
B: Billy Marek, St. Rita, 1972.
L: Keena Turner, Vocational, 1976.
L: Chris Boskey, St. Francis de Sales, 1978.
L: Dave Butz, Maine South, 1969.
L: Bryant Young, Bloom, 1990
LB: John Foley, St. Rita, 1986.
LB: Clay Matthews, New Trier East, 1974.
LB: Oliver Gibson, Romeoville, 1990.
B: Mike Prior, Marian Catholic, 1980.
B: Quinn Buckner, Thornridge, 1972.
B: Brian Wise, Tinley Park, 1987.
B: Tom Zbikowski, Buffalo Grove, 2003.
K: Nick Setta, Lockport, 1999.
P: Ryan Donahue, St. Rita, 2006.
KR: Jimmy Smith, Kankakee Westview, 1979.
Sure, there are some noteworthy omissions, including Mount Carmel's Simeon Rice, St. Laurence's Paul Glonek, Oak Park's Eric Kumerow, East Leyden's Kurt Bankson, Farragut's Otis Armstrong, Marshall's Darryl Stingley, Joliet Catholic's Mike Alstott,Thornton's Napoleon Harris, Tilden's Dempsey Norman, Richards' Kenny Carrington and Dwayne Goodrich, St. Viator's Scott Zettek and Thornton Fractional North's Mike Tomczak.
But I think I could go to war with the 25 players I selected and not have to hide in a foxhole.