5 high school football teams that would have been a hit on ‘Hard Knocks’

Last week the NFL announced the New York Giants would be featured on the upcoming season of “Hard Knocks,” the popular HBO series providing behind-the-scenes access to a team’s preseason training.

Which got me thinking … through the years we’ve seen some pretty interesting high school football teams in the Daily Herald coverage area. More than a few deserved the television treatment.

This week’s High Five looks at five local prep teams that would have been a hit on a “Hard Knocks” type of show, with a disclaimer.

We’re only considering state championship winners.

5. Prospect, 2001

Cinderella stories make for good TV, so we’re giving a nod to the first Knights’ team to win a state title.

Talk about a breakthrough. After the once-dormant program didn’t win a playoff game in its four prior appearances (including a triple-overtime loss the year before) the 2001 group went 14-0 and won the Class 7A title with a 19-14 win over Edwardsville.

The only problem for cameras would be where to focus the attention. The remarkable thing about this Prospect team was its lack of Division I talent.

But imagine watching episodes surrounding the two games against rival Buffalo Grove — a 6-0 win in the regular season and a 21-12 victory in the quarterfinals.

4. Stevenson, 2014

The Patriots knocked on the door throughout their streak of 25 straight playoff appearances. The year before they suffered a 15-14 semifinal loss to Loyola Academy.

You couldn’t ask for better built-up drama for No. 26, the 2014 season.

Stevenson went 14-0 while playing 12 playoff teams, including two games against Class 8A runner-up Homewood-Flossmoor. Four playoff games were won by a total of 17 points.

In the title game, the Vikings rallied from a 31-16 deficit to within 31-25 and recovered a late onside kick. The Patriots snagged a fumble in the final minutes, however, to preserve history.

That’s great TV.

3. Batavia, 2013

Batavia’s Micah Coffey (15) brings the 6A championship trophy to his teammates after beating Richards in the 2013 Class 6A state title game. Daily Herald file photo

Another perennial playoff team without a state title, Batavia barely struggled during the 2013 season. That is, except for a Week 2 loss to Richards, a game avenged in the 6A final.

Batavia’s football program is known for its legacies, the brothers from so many families who have played for the Bulldogs.

Quarterback Micah Coffey would have been a great focus for a “Hard Knocks” show in 2013. A three-sport athlete who played baseball at Minnesota, Coffey was the third of four brothers to play sports for the Bulldogs.

Batavia dominated Richards 34-14 in the title game, but this TV season wouldn’t be about drama. It’d be filled with family stories.

2. Buffalo Grove, 1986

Buffalo Grove football coach Grant Blaney celebrates with his players after the Bison won the Class 6A state championship in 1986. Daily Herald File Photo

I was a senior at Buffalo Grove when Grant Blaney’s Bison won their only title with a 26-6 win over Marist in the 6A final. For many years, this was considered one of the best teams in state history.

Trust me when I say this would’ve been a fun group to follow. Between defensive lineman Jan Gustafson, linebacker Jim Wagner and quarterback Mark Benson, there’d be a lot of great stuff.

The defense was as dominant as the recently crowned Chicago Bears — 32 points allowed in five playoff games and barely more than 500 rushing yards allowed all season.

Wheaton Warrenville South rolled to the 1998 Class 6A state championship, beating Barrington 42-14 in the title game. Daily Herald file photo

1. Wheaton Warrenville South, 1998

Still considered by many to be the best team in state history, the offense was remarkable with quarterback Jon Beutjer and receiver Jon Schweighardt forming a tandem that’d make Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce jealous.

Childhood friends, Beutjer and Schweighardt would be the heart of this “Hard Knocks” season. But let’s not forget the wicked defense that allowed fewer than 10 points a game.

I’d also love to see the show dig into the minds of head coach John Thorne and defensive coordinator Ron Muhitch. After Thorne stepped down with four state titles, Muhitch added three more as head coach.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.