Assembling "dream teams" seems to be in vogue this year, so why not right here in Illinois?
We`ll give it a catchy name like "All-State," and on offense we`ll select 22 football players, first and second teams, who have been dreams-come- true for their coaches.
The U.S. sent a dream team to Barcelona last summer, and Michigan sent a freshman-only version to the NCAA Finals last year, so here is the Illinois high school football dream-team offense:
The quarterback-Jeff Hecklinski displayed such promise that he was elevated to the varsity near the end of his freshman year. The 6-foot-4-inch, 200-pound senior wound up passing for 5,871 yards and 54 touchdowns in his career, including 2,387 yards and 23 TDs this season.
Illinois coach Lou Tepper recognized the quick release, eminently catchable spiral and great vision and became an admirer three years ago. Hecklinski has announced he will play for the Illini next fall. College scouts rated the Palatine passer among the nation`s top five quarterback prospects.
Our dream-team backup, Bloomington`s Billy Dicken, is being pursued by Oklahoma, Texas, Washington State and Minnesota. The 6-3, 193-pounder completed 99 of 175 passes this year for 2,066 yards and 22 TDs with only four interceptions in leading his team to the Class 5A quarterfinals.
Speed-Let`s begin with Bolingbrook running back Robert Farmer, who rushed for 1,566 yards and 18 TDs.
"He is the best I`ve ever seen," said St. Charles coach Buck Drach after his Saints edged Bolingbrook 32-27 in the playoffs as Farmer rushed for 268 yards and four TDs. "This kid is so smooth and effortless getting around the outside, you can`t tell when he kicks it in. In our film review, we had 28 missed tackles against him, and our kids are good tacklers."
Miami, Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, Georgia, Illinois and Northwestern are recruiting Farmer.
Three wide receivers have burner potential in college-Bloomington`s Marquis Mosely, Shepard`s Ontario Pryor and second-teamer Seth Smith from Carbondale.
Mosely caught 56 passes for 1,271 yards and 13 TDs and also returned two kickoffs and one punt for TDs. Pryor caught 21 for 516 yards, nearly 25 yards per catch. Smith runs a 4.35-second 40-yard dash and caught 55 passes for 1,263 yards and 25 TDs. His three punt returns for TDs this season gave him a state career-record eight.
Second-team running back Jason Kent was a Mid-Suburban League sprint champion who rushed for 1,487 yards and 16 TDs.
Size-Hecklinski will have all day to find Mosely, Pryor, Smith or Morris' Paul Kindelspire with a line featuring Waubonsie Valley`s Chip McPheeters (6-3, 265), Maine South`s Mark Sroka (6-5, 252), Kankakee`s Benyard Jones (6-3, 260), Providence`s Dan Maly (6-7, 265) and Homewood-Flossmoor`s Jim Van Vlymen (6-4, 265).
Tight end Jon Blackman is 6-7, 240 and his backup, Mt. Carmel's Matt Cushing, goes 6-4, 240. You'd need a sturdy bench to support second-teamers such as Khal Banks (6-6, 310) of Naperville Central; Dan Jones (6-0, 285) of Rockford Boylan and Oswego`s Andy Allen (6-3, 255).
Intangibles-This ingredient, which usually provides a winning chemistry, is embodied in running backs Phil Adler (5-7, 207) of Wheaton-Warrenville South and Matt Larsen (5-10, 210) of Joliet Catholic. They lead their teams into Saturday`s Class 5A state championship game at Normal with similarly indomitable spirits. Adler has rushed for 1,847 yards and 25 TDs, Larsen for 2,056 yards and 28 TDs.