Schuckman: Process of selecting QHS boys soccer program’s all-time starting lineup should lead to interesting debates

Starting 11 logo

QUINCY — A soft estimate suggests there have been at least 400 players represent the Quincy High School boys soccer program since its inception in 1974.

So how do you whittle such a diverse group down to a starting 11?

That’s the conversation that took place during the summer when the idea of selecting the Blue Devils’ all-time starting lineup was broached. This is QHS’s 50th season, the roots of the program dating back to the first game on Sept. 7, 1974.

Playing at Q Stadium on that Saturday, the Blue Devils beat Granite City North 2-1 with Tom Dickson scoring the first goal in program history. Greg Curran scored the second goal, and Tim Tappe earned the first victory as goalkeeper.

Since then, the Blue Devils have won nearly 700 games, 29 Western Big 6 Conference titles, 11 regional crowns, 10 sectionals and two state trophies.

“What brings it all together are the kinds of memories you make from your freshman year to your senior year and the people you stay in contact with,” said Matt Longo, who spent two stints as the QHS coach from 1987-96 and 2004-16 and won 386 games. “The amount of text messages, not only that I get but the ones I send out, too, go a long way to having that connection.

“We might not see each other on a day-to-day basis like we used to when we played soccer, but we can touch base through a text message or an email. It’s not just soccer. With any program, it’s the relationships you build. From coach to player, but mostly player to player, you build friendships that last a lifetime. That is so neat.”

So how do you take players from five decades and create a starting 11?

First, you choose a formation. The interesting part of this project is the process wasn’t intended to pick the 11 best players. If you did that, you might end up with five forwards or six midfielders or three goalkeepers, depending on just how talented and how successful they were.

The goal here was to put a starting lineup together that represents the program across generations. So we settled on a 3-4-3 formation, choosing three forwards, four midfielders and three defenders along with a goalkeeper.

With that determined, the criteria for consideration had to be defined.

We looked at Hall of Fame inductees, all-state and All-American lists, school record holders, IHSA record books and postseason success. We talked to former coaches, assistant coaches and players. We asked teammates to assess their cohorts and received input from other media members who covered the Blue Devils throughout the last five decades.

We created a blueprint for what we were looking for at each position. Then we narrowed the lists from 15 to 10 to our final numbers.

Was it cut and dry at each spot? Absolutely not.

Will it create debate? We certainly hope so.

Was the process enjoyable? An absolute blast.

Now it’s time to unveil the starting 11. We will put stories on our website beginning Thursday with one of the starting forwards. A story about one of the players will appear each Tuesday and Thursday for the five weeks that follow. When we wrap this up, we want to hear from you. Tell us who your starting 11 would be.

With that, let the debates begin.

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Related Articles