It's no exaggeration to say the 1997 Tribune All-State Football Team will go down in history.
The teenage dream team is headed by six players who have left indelible marks on the Illinois High School Association record book.
- Dunbar tailback Rausell Harvey became the state's all-time leading rusher with 7,245 yards in his three-year career, and his 105 touchdowns are the most in state history. He will add to those totals Friday in the Prep Bowl against Marian Catholic at Soldier Field.
- Waubonsie Valley tight end/defensive end R.J. Luke set career records for receptions (196), receiving yardage (3,124) and consecutive games with a catch (40).
- Lincoln-Way quarterback Cory Paus set state title-game records for completions (24), attempts (52) and passing yardage (317) in last year's 6A loss to Wheaton-Warrenville South.
- Lockport kicker Nick Setta holds the state record for the longest field goal--59 yards.
- Second-team All-Stater Dusty Burk of Class 1A quarterfinalist Tuscola shattered just about every single-season quarterback record, completing 262 of 459 passes for 4,052 yards and 48 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,085 yards and 22 TDs and averaged 428 yards of total offense and six touchdowns a game. He also set a number of career records, including TD passes (83) and total offense (9,909 yards).
- Second-team defensive back Jason Henry of 2A quarterfinalist Tolono Unity had 13 interceptions this season, giving him 28 in his two-year career. It eclipsed the record of 27 set by Montini's Bob Westerkamp during 1979-82.
Harvey has attracted major interest from Michigan and Purdue, who want him to play wide receiver at the next level. Harvey, who said he would like an opportunity to prove himself in the backfield, also is being recruited by Notre Dame, Michigan State and Iowa.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound Luke, widely acclaimed as the state's top college prospect, is considering Penn State, Northwestern and Notre Dame, among others. Besides setting records on offense, the two-way performer repeated as Upstate Eight defensive player of the year.
Andrew coach Mike O'Neill said Paus appears headed for a state championship before he plays for UCLA next fall.
"Paus is a unique guy," said O'Neill, whose Thunderbolts lost to Lincoln-Way in the 6A semifinals. "In my 24 years of coaching, I've never seen anybody like him who can simply take over a game by himself. He relishes those kinds of big games.
"Against us, he just decided to run the ball, and he looked for guys to run over. It's like he can will himself to take control of a game."
Setta, whose longest field goal this season was 47 yards, is good enough that Texas and Notre Dame will reportedly offer him a scholarship in the spring.
College scouts have overlooked Burk's small-school competition and instead evaluated his 6-2, 185-pound frame and Division I arm strength. An Iowa assistant coach visited Tuscola on Tuesday, and Burk also is being recruited by Illinois, Northwestern, Mississippi and Purdue. He is a straight-A student who ranks No. 1 in his class.
Recruiters perennially scour the Chicago area for linemen, and Michigan came away with 6-5, 240-pound, high-impact defensive end Dan Rumishek of Addison Trail while Iowa landed 6-7, 235-pound Eric Steinbach of Providence. Steinbach, who had 24 sacks from his defensive end position, will be joined in Iowa City by Evanston breakaway running back Siaka Massaquoi (2,035 yards rushing, 29 TDs).
A virtual unknown in August, Naperville North's 6-3, 260-pound Kevin Hill emerged to become the top lineman in the DuPage Valley Conference.
Only the best could make this team at linebacker. Bishop McNamara's Alan Rood was the defensive MVP of the Catholic Metro Green, and Naperville Central's Joe Chirumbolo was the DuPage Valley's top defensive player. Evanston's Sean Hopson might be the best of this trio.
On offense, Big Ten-sized linemen Jeff Roehl (6-5, 275) of Sandburg, Taylor Duncan (6-2, 305) of Maine South, David Porter (6-7, 280) of Belleville Althoff and juniors Tony Pape (6-7, 285) of Hinsdale South and Sean Bubin (6-7, 270) of Rantoul dominated their competition all season. Roehl also carries a 4.4 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and scored a 33 on his ACT.
"Jeff is the best offensive tackle in the state," said Sandburg coach Mike Navarro. "He can play center, guard or tackle in college, and someday he will be playing on Sundays."
Imagine how good Palatine's Sergio Lund might have been if he only played one position. Asked to play quarterback for the first time in his career, the four-year defensive standout amassed 2,202 yards total offense with 23 TD passes and 11 touchdown runs.
"I had to concentrate more on quarterback in practices, so I didn't get that many repetitions at defensive back," said the Mid-Suburban North player of the year, who nonetheless had five interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
"Defensive back--that's like the joy for me. It's what I love playing. It is you against them--make the tackle and you win."
And that is the position Iowa, Michigan State and Arizona are recruiting Lund for next season.
The All-State secondary includes Rich East junior Richard McNutt, expected to be among the state's top five recruits next year; Addison Trail speedster Brian Taylor, who is headed for Stanford, and Bolingbrook's Todd Howard, who's leaning heavily toward Michigan.
They are probably the only ones who could stay with an All-State receiving corps headed by juniors Jon Schweighardt of Wheaton-Warrenville South and Yaacov Yisrael of Palatine.
Even double coverages and gimmick schemes didn't stop Schweighardt, who caught 81 passes for 1,447 yards and 17 TDs. Yisrael's combination of speed and explosiveness has Penn State and Michigan in hot pursuit. Breakaway receiver David Popp could lead Providence to a fourth straight title Friday in Normal.
All-State punter Brian Grider of Oswego, who converted five field goals from beyond the 40 and averaged 43 yards a punt, will take his kicking skills to Northern Illinois.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun