Dog Ear Publishing reviews a new novel from a journalist, who turns his talents to the story of the 1992 Wheaton Central/Wheaton Warrenville South Tigers’ battle to be the best high school football program the state of Illinois has to offer.
An early football legend put Wheaton on the map and that streak continued until 1969, when the high school’s program went into a slump. Two decades later the Tigers would re-emerge, and a new book, expected to be released this fall by Dog Ear Publishing, describes the ups – and the downs – of the illustrious program.
Journalist Thom Wilder describes the early successes of high school football in Wheaton, thanks to gridiron legend Red Grange, known as the Wheaton Iceman – the epitome of a Tiger athlete – who played from 1918 to 1921. He’d go on to be named the Galloping Ghost from his time at the University of Illinois and early days of the National Football League, where he played for the Chicago Bears. Wilder also delves into Wheaton’s long history with football, through its triumphs for 50 years to its mediocrity in the 1970s to its return to prominence in the 1990s.
“The Ghosts of Wheaton: How the Red Grange Tigers Conquered Illinois High School Football” features play-by-play action as the team works to finish the journey begun with a quarterfinal playoff berth in 1988, the semifinals in 1989, its first state title game appearance in 1990 and a heartbreaking title game loss in 1991. Despite dominating just about every statistical category, the Tigers lost the 1991 title game to parochial powerhouse Chicago Mt. Carmel. Although the last-second loss was crushing for players, coaches and the entire community, the game had shown the Tigers that they could play with the big boys and compete in championship-level football.
The 1992 season became about much more than football. It was also the story of a community divided by school politics and facility issues, haunted by the ghost of Red Grange’s past greatness. Players and coaches alike were determined to win the school’s first state football title, placing them once again among the Illinois high school football elite. More than 30 photos from that time illustrate this timeless tale of hard work and athletic ability. The book is expected to get Dog Ear Publishing reviews from several media outlets once it’s released this fall.
Author Thom Wilder, a journalist, teacher and sports fan based in Chicago, earned a journalism degree from Indiana University and a law degree from Loyola University Chicago. Wilder also wrote “The Road to Paradise: How the 1982 Castle Knights Upset Indiana’s Football World,” published by Dog Ear in 2012. His work has been published by state, federal and international news organizations.
For additional information, please visit www.thomwilder.com
The Ghosts of Wheaton: How the Red Grange Tigers Conquered Illinois High School Football
Dog Ear Publishing
ISBN: 978-145753-960-2 250 pages $16.95 US
Will be available at Ingram, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and fine bookstores everywhere.
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