Bulls

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

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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.

Jabari Parker unafraid of history, expectations that come with Chicago's homegrown stars: "There's no fear"

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USA TODAY

Jabari Parker unafraid of history, expectations that come with Chicago's homegrown stars: "There's no fear"

The Chicago sunlight followed Jabari Parker as he walked through the East Atrium doors of the United Center, facing Michael Jordan’s statue before meeting with the media, introduced as a Chicago Bull for the first time.


For his sake, the brighter days are ahead instead of to his back as he’ll challenge the perception of being the hometown kid who can’t outrun his own shadow.


Parker re-enters Chicago as the No. 2 pick in the draft that the Milwaukee Bucks allowed to walk without compensation despite holding the cards through restricted free agency, damaged goods on the floor but not giving the Bulls a discount to don that white, red and black jersey he’s always dreamed of wearing.


“There were other teams but as soon as I heard Chicago, I just jumped on it,” Parker said.


It took a two-year, $40 million deal (2019-20 team option) to get Parker home, along with the selling point that he’ll start at small forward—a position that’s tough to envision him playing with on the defensive end considering three of the game’s top six scorers occupy that space.
It was a dream come true for his father, Sonny Parker, and high school coach, Simeon Academy’s Robert Smith, who both couldn’t hide their joy following the first question-and-answer session with the media.


“This is where he wanted to be,” Sonny Parker said. “His family’s happy, the support is there. All I know is the United Center will sell out every game. He can’t wait.”


“Normally guys get drafted here. He signed to come here. He had a couple offers from other teams but he wanted to come here.”


The biggest examples of Chicagoans who arrived with outsized expectations for this franchise had varying results, but Derrick Rose and Eddy Curry both came away with scars of sorts that had many wondering why any hometown product would willingly choose to play for the Bulls.


The risk seems to far outweigh the reward; the emotional toll doesn’t seem worth the fare. And with the roster makeup not being ideal for Parker, no one could blame him for going to a better situation—or at least one more tailored to his skills rather than his heart.
“I think every situation is different. Derrick was excelling,” Bulls executive vice-president John Paxson said to NBCSportsChicago.com. “MVP of the league in his hometown before the injury. Eddy was just a young kid who didn’t have the savvy Derrick had. I think every situation is different. Jabari is such a grounded, solid person that he’s gonna be just fine.”


“You don’t have to spend a whole lot of time with him to figure out he’s got it together. He knows who he is. Comfortable in his own skin. A quiet guy. Hopefully he’ll thrive here. The goal is it works great for him and works great for us.”


It seemed like he was bred to be a pro—and not just any pro, but the type Chicago demands of its own when a covenant to play 82 nights a year has been reached. If the constant prodding from his father didn’t break his façade, or older brother Darryl doing everything he could to coax emotion from the most gifted of the Parker clan couldn’t do it, two ACL surgeries on his left knee may pale in comparison.


The numbers from Parker’s recent stint with the Bucks don’t bear it out, but Smith sees a player who’s back on track to being what his talent has always dictated he should become.


“Even watching him work out lately, it’s like whoa,” Smith said. “But of course, everything with Chicago period you have to be cautious. With his family and the support system he has, this thing is about winning basketball games and giving back to the community.”


“He’s had that (target) on his back since he stepped on the court at Simeon, coming behind Derrick and being one of the top five players as a freshman and No. 1 player as a junior. I don’t think it’s a huge problem, it can help him a little bit. If he has those moments if something doesn’t go right, he has someone to help him.”


Parker is more known for his restarts than his unique skill set in his young career, but even at 23 years old speaks with a sage of someone 20 years his senior, unwilling to tab this portion of his journey as a fresh start.


After all, it would be easy to envision his career beginning from the moment he left Simeon as a phenom followed by his one season at Duke—having two games where he totaled just 24 minutes with just two points to start the Bucks’ first-round series against the Boston Celtics isn’t typical of a star’s story if he sees himself that way.


“I don’t. I don’t want to forget all the hard work I had,” Parker said. “To forget I hurt myself and came back is to discredit my success. That in of itself is something outside the norm. I want to always remember the setbacks and failures I’ve had in my career so far. I want to use that as a sense of motivation.”


Bringing up his awkward pro beginnings in Milwaukee, where Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ascension to an unexpected strata mirrored thoughts he might’ve had of himself before his injuries, didn’t cause him to growl.


“I’ve never got jealous a day in my life. That’s why it wasn’t hard because I wasn’t jealous,” Parker said to NBCSportsChicago.com. “My journey is my journey. I gotta be proud of that and be patient. I took that and I move forward.”


The mention of his defense didn’t make him defensive, either, as he definitively pointed out the truth as he saw it, that today’s game is far more offensive-minded than the bruise-fests of the previous decades. Telling by his words in subsequent interviews, the best defense is a great offense and when he’s right, there aren’t many who can get a bucket as easily and with as much diversity as himself.


The only time Parker broke serve was at the notion he’d be following in the footsteps of Rose’s perceived failures, the setbacks Rose suffered when his knees began to fail after reaching inspiring heights players like Parker wanted to emulate.


At the podium for all to see, he corrected a question formed around Rose’s “rise and fall”, a sound byte copied and pasted by a couple Chicago-bred NBA players on social media in support of Parker’s words and feelings.


“Derrick had no lows. He didn’t. He still maintained. Derrick’s a legend, no matter what…no rise and falls. Injuries are part of life. Derrick is one of the best icons in Chicago. He accomplished his duty already.”


And later, he wanted to set the record straight again, drawing a line from how the media has presented Rose compared to how the people of Chicago see him, and vice-versa.


“We didn’t turn on Derrick, the media (did),” Parker told NBCSportsChicago.com. “We’re hometown. I speak for everybody, we love our hometown.”


The love of Chicago meant more than the prospect of not being able to live up to a glorious prep past, even though he should be well aware wanderlust can turn to villainy in a heartbeat—or the wrong step.


“There’s no pressure for me,” Parker said to NBCSportsChicago.com. “I’m just happy I get to play with some young guys, and I don’t harp on the negative. Anybody and everybody is gonna have an opinion. I value more my dreams than their opinions.”


And the dreamer steps forward, with a confident gait, eyes wide open and a city hoping it doesn’t repeat the same mistakes of its past.


“There’s no fear,” Parker said. “I haven’t faced any other pressure than bouncing back. I’m back on my feet and moving on.”


“When you struggle more, you succeed more.”

Sports Talk Live Podcast: With Jabari Parker in the mix, are the Bulls playoff contenders?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: With Jabari Parker in the mix, are the Bulls playoff contenders?

David Haugh, Patrick Finley and KC Johnson join Kap on the panel. Jabari Parker is officially a Chicago Bull. So does that make the Bulls a playoff team? And who will play defense for Fred Hoiberg’s young team? Vincent Goodwill and Mark Schanowski drop by to discuss.

Plus with Manny Machado now a Dodger, are the Cubs no longer the best team in the NL?

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: