Please help me out here.
If you were writing a book on high school football in Illinois, what would you include in it?
Well, University of Illinois Press in Champaign has asked me to author a book on the subject. Lots of books have been written about high school basketball in Illinois. I know. I wrote two of them. But football? Never before.
I have a lot of ideas. When I first contacted U. of I. Press in 2001, I submitted two book proposals--one for football, one for basketball. At the time, the editors preferred basketball because they felt there was more interest in basketball in Illinois, especially Downstate. I agreed.
But I kept a file on football. And when I traveled around the state for two months to research my first basketball book, "Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe: High School Basketball in Illinois," I made notes, gathered telephone numbers and thought about what I would do if this day ever came.
Like the basketball book, I plan to highlight the top players, coaches and teams that have dominated the game. Also the top games, dynasties and rivalries. Not to mention chapters on the Chicago Public League, Chicago Catholic League, Prep Bowl and state playoffs.
There are some no-brainers, such as:
Players: Red Grange, Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, Otto Graham, Buddy Young, Johnny Lattner, Alex Agase, Mike Alstott, Otis Armstrong.
Coaches: Tony Lawless, Murney Lazier, Gary Korhonen, Bob Shannon, Frank Lenti, Gordie Gillespie, Matt Senffner, Deek Pollard, John O'Boyle, Pat Cronin.
Teams: Mount Carmel 1950, Joliet Catholic 1975, Wheaton Warrenville South 1998, St. Rita 1971, Evanston 1971, East St. Louis 1985.
Rivalries: Englewood vs. Hyde Park; East Aurora vs. West Aurora; Moline vs. Rock Island; Mount Carmel vs. St. Rita; Champaign vs. Urbana; East St. Louis vs. Belleville.
Games: Austin/Leo 1937; Glenbrook North/East St. Louis 1974; Wheaton Warrenville South/Joliet Catholic 1992; Maine South/Mount Carmel, 1995; St. Laurence/Glenbard West 1976.
Programs: Mount Carmel, Providence, Joliet Catholic, East St. Louis, Geneseo, Metamora, Carthage, Marian Central, Arcola, Pittsfield.
Your suggestions are welcome.