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A Look Back at '05
by Vincent Johnson

It was another fantastic year for high school football in Illinois. And while the season may have ended after Thanksgiving weekend there are still many important events that will happened between now & the end of the high school year for the class of 2006.

When you start to reflect on the 2005 season, you have to think about where do you start, well there was no better a place then on the ground & running in '05. We're talking about rushing of course.

Rushing Records

Two of the biggest records in any state would be the single season & career rushing records. Illinois watched as both of those records fell in 05. Sean Duning ofDecatur (St. Teresa) surpassedBelleville (Althoff) 's Hickey Thompson's single season record, when he put up 3,127 yards this year. Dunning, was our Player of the Week in week #6 when he put up 416 yards with 6 TDs on 16 carries against Monticello. That performance placed him 10th on the all time single game list. Add to that he set the single season record for most games rushing for 200+ yards, with 11 and did it all while playing just 12 games this year and Dunning was one of the most proflic runners of the year.

Not far behind Dunning was of course Morris 's John Dergo, who also got player of the week honors. While much has been made about Dergo's lack of football scholarship offers, he's currently planning on wrestling at the University of Illinois, people did happen to notice that he racked up 3,010 yards this year, placing him 3rd on the all time single season list. He also went home with another record that Dunning and Henry Deters would both have rather had, a 14-0 season.

Deters, may have been one of the most over looked backs in the state. A three year starter, Deters put up 7,366 yards to surpass Rausell "Rocky" Harvey ofChicago (Dunbar)as the states all-time leading rusher. Deters, who played running back & safety, just like Dergo and was only 3 pounds lighter didn't really get noticed by the rest of the state till hisTolono (Unity)team made it to the 3A Finals game. Deters was held to 76 yards in that game, as he surpassed the record, but his Rockets fell 34-7 toManlius (Bureau Valley).

Breaking away from the players and focusing a bit on the politics, '05 was marred with controversy, but thankfully very few tragedies. Whether it was the multiplier or conference's naming their all-conference teams minus players that were better, but had already verbally committed to a college.

"The Multiplier"

The 2005 season could be looked at in many different ways as the years pass on. For some it looks like the beginning for fair sports and for others it looks like the end of competitive high school sports in Illinois. We obviously hope for the first, but for some that means sports without private schools.

What use to be referred to as the old "public vs. private" debate, has now morphed into "boundary vs. non-boundary" schools. A group was set up last year to conclude if there was indeed an unfair advantage to non-boundary schools when it came to the playoffs. After some deliberation the IHSA decided to enforce a multiplier on all schools that spanned more than one schools district for their enrollment.

That multiplier was and may remain at 1.65. While public schools cry foul after losing to private schools year after year, private schools contend that only a select few of the private schools are reeking havoc on the playoffs and a adjustment should be made for winning schools, not all schools in general.

While a group of 32 private schools lead byNew Lenox (Providence), sued the IHSA in September to stop the multiplier from going into effect for the remainder of the year, claiming that the IHSA failed to put the multiplier to a vote. Public schools fired back with a proposal to give the IHSA full authority to set classifications & add a multiplier. That proposal along with a few others, focus on dealing with a possible unfair advantage & recruiting issues and will be voted on Dec. 28th, by all IHSA member schools.

While it all sounds like the plot for the last Star Wars movie, it is very real and has lead to talk about a possible split from the IHSA by private schools, in at least the Chicago area.

State Finals

Speaking of private schools from the Chicago area, fans who like to brag about how their team that won 4 straight state titles will now have to take a back seat to their catholic school brethren fromAddison (Driscoll). The Highlanders capped off a remarkable season, finishing 14-0 and taking down Newton for their 5th straight state football title, surpassing the mark previously set byJoliet (Catholic),New Lenox (Providence)&Chicago (Mt. Carmel). Providence, did make it to 5 consecutive finals, but lost on their 5th attempt.

What makes the Highlanders 5th title a even more impressive, is the fact that they did it with first year head coach Mike Burzawa, after their previous head coach Tim Racki went to coach atLaGrange Park (Nazareth Academy)this year.

While many picked to see Driscoll in the finals this year, high school football fans were delighted to see more than the usual blend of new faces. In 1ACambridgemade it's first ever finals appearance along with Dakota in 2A,Newton in 4A &Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East) in 8A. The Griffins at East captured the schools second state title in any sport, as they made the finals in only their 6th year as a school.

Springfield (S.H.G.) finally got it's first state football title, after losing 4 times before. Their opponentRock Island (Alleman), who's defensive line was the biggest of any team in this years state finals, will have to wait for their first title, as they lost in a thrilling 28-21 5A game making them 0-3 in the final games.

Manlius (Bureau Valley), the 2004 3A Runner-up, however was sick of waiting and may have been one of two teams that benefited from the multiplier, as they won the 3A game 34-7 over Unity and avoided a rematch of last years 3A game versus Driscoll, as they were bumped to 4A.

Mt. Prospect (Prospect)beat out aChicago (Mt. Carmel)team who may have been a victim of the multiplier or may have just been a victim of a team that played a better game, as the Knights slipped by the Caravan 20-14 winning their 3rd title in 5 years.

WhilePark Ridge (Maine South)was hoping to stop their finals game losing streak at 2, Dakota &Freeport (Aquin)had already gone back to back for the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference, making the NUIC not only the only conference to have more than one team, but the only conference to have two champs.

And of course who can for getNormal (Community)& Morris . Morris had beatJoliet (Catholic)earlier in the playoffs in a game many thought was between the two best 6A teams & the Ironmen had come out of nowhere from the Big 12 Conference with a defense full of underclassmen to almost stop the mighty Redskins, giving them a better game than the Hilltoppers did. For the first time in 20 years, Morris took home a state football title to a town that as head coach George Dergo says "didn't want it's football season to end". If you drive by on I-80 you can still hear them celebrating.

The Best Of

We couldn't really squeeze the whole season into one story, so we've decided after covering three of the biggest stories of 2005 that we'd do our first ever "Best of the Season" section. Over the next few weeks, will be posting a best of category with winners and explanations. Some will be normal honors; best team defense, best QB, other not so normal, like best concession stand food or coolest band.





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