Driscoll football comes in at No. 4 for boys high school sports dynasties
Editor's note: The Daily Herald is counting down the Top 10 boys and girls high school sports dynasties over the past 20 years, two at a time. We continue today at No. 4 with Driscoll football and Naperville North girls cross country.
It always felt like homecoming at Driscoll Catholic's Robert A. Barth Field.
Then, having been welcomed to the jungle, the celebration barreled into Champaign, where the Highlanders won seven consecutive state football titles from 2001-07, six in Class 4A and one in 3A.
No other Illinois team has done that. Only 12 programs in the country have.
"But in the big picture, looking back I remember the relationships, the brotherhood, and the happiness that it really brought to so many people," said Mike Burzawa, a coach on all seven champions after starring on Driscoll's 1991 title team.
"Buzz" and "Rack" -- Tim Racki, fellow alum and head coach for the first four titles, Burzawa the next three -- got the keys to the kingdom in their 20s. Best man in each other's weddings, they were steeped in black-and-gold pride by their old coach, Gene Nudo, and guided by veterans like late offensive guru Mike Loconsole.
Some teams go smashmouth; some favor finesse. Driscoll mastered both, and when required it drew from unsurpassed will or a chip on its shoulder even while going 14-0 in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
Adjustments? In 2001 Driscoll beat downstate Mt. Carmel 42-41 in double-overtime. In 2002 the Highlanders beat that team 42-0.
Driscoll fielded thoroughbreds such as David Schwabe and John Tranchitella. It had hosses like Victor Arlis and Anthony Gebhart.
Kyle Jenkins was unblockable. Kyle Sanders, Mike Freeman and Kevin Palermo knocked your block off. A star kicker? That's Rick Albreski.
Greg Turner affected a game so dramatically foes ignored someone like Ray Lao -- until he scored on a genius play designed for that specific championship moment.
The fans went wild.
"Having that common bond of coaching at the school I played at, being able to coach those guys, and having that amount of success is still jaw-dropping," Racki said. "Just an incredible memory, and a blessing for me."