Mention Barrington's football program and you don't automatically make comparisons to traditional state powers such as Mount Carmel, Wheaton Warrenville South, Joliet Catholic, East St. Louis, St. Rita, Providence, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin or Metamora.
But coach Joe Sanchez has sent more players to Division I colleges in the last eight years than anyone else in the country.
"That statistic caught me by surprise," Sanchez admitted. "In going through the last eight years, we have been pretty fortunate, sending 28 kids to Division I schools. Part of it is luck, having great kids. One thing we do as a coaching staff is take great pride in helping our kids, to help them to be seen, giving them exposure."
And the beat goes on. Barrington has an outstanding junior class this season and figures to send at least three players to Division I. Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming touts offensive tackle Dan Voltz and tailback Chase Murdock as two of the leading prospects in the Midwest. He thinks wide receiver Sam Handler deserves a look, too.
Sanchez sent six players to Division I in 2004--Dan Doering, Otis Hudson, Garrett Seeger, Andy Laue, Joel Evers and Drew Janes. He believes he has a future star in 6-4, 270-pound sophomore offensive lineman Mason Darrow, whose brother is a basketball player at Princeton.
This year's squad could be the best that Sanchez has produced. The Broncos are 4-0 and ranked No. 15 in the Chicago area going into Friday night's game against Conant. But they'll learn a lot about themselves the following week when they host highly regarded Schaumburg and Shepard Little on Saturday.
Barrington has been a successful program since 1924. Tom Frederick won 78 percent (80-21-4) of his games in the 1950s and 1960s. Bill Graham won 75 percent (106-34-2) of his games in the 1960s and 1970s. Al Kamradt's 1998 squad finished second in the state. Sanchez is 57-30 for the last eight years.
Sanchez credits his success to the Barrington Youth Football program that is devoted to teaching and fundamentals and getting kids excited about football. He also credits his freshman and sophomore coaches for preparing them for the varsity.
"By the time they get to us, they still want to play," Sanchez said. "There are so many options for kids today. It takes a great commitment to play this game. We must keep them involved. In Barrington, it starts with 5-year-olds in flag football. We have 500 to 600 kids playing in all ages from 5 to 13.
"I'm a big believer in fundamentals. I want our coaches to teach the same fundamental skills. Every year, we host a seventh and eighth grade camp for four days. The key is to teach fundamentals and keep them interested. Our numbers prove we are successful in doing that. We average 80 to 85 freshmen a year.
"Sure, we have to worry about burnout. But I think we do a good job as a staff not to make it a job to our kids, that we make it an enjoyable experience. Kids come back and say they treasure the relationships that they formed with coaches and teammates."
The key is to let college coaches know the caliber of talent that you have, just in case they haven't already noticed. Barrington has an excellent video department that produces highlight tapes that are sent to colleges.
And Sanchez and his staff go the extra mile. "We take summer vacation and try to stop by and say hello to colleges in the area and drop off film if I think we have a player who can play at that level. We do this for all of our kids. We're going to try to do anything we can to help them if they want to play football at the next level," he said.