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Dierking's kid - the real deal


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He led his team to the 8A state championship last weekend by racking up 134 and 2 TD's with a bad wheel. He plays in the town next to mine and I've seen him play a couple of times - he needs to bulk up but he's got great burst strength and is strong as a bull.

Chicago Sun Times Player of the year: Dan Dierking

WWS standout honored by comparisons to Grange

November 17, 2006

BY TINA AKOURIS Staff Reporter

The name Red Grange is revered in Wheaton and throughout the state when it comes to football.

One day, Dan Dierking's name might be revered, too -- if it isn't already, that is.

Dierking, a 5-10, 180-pound senior running back at Wheaton Warrenville South, has rushed for 2,100 yards this season. He also has etched his name in the Tigers' record books, prompting coach Ron Muhitch and others to compare him to Grange.

''That's almost sacrilegious around here,'' said Scott Dierking, Dan's father.

Dan Dierking has scored 30 touchdowns in leading Wheaton Warrenville South to a 12-0 record and a spot in the Class 8A semifinals Saturday against York.

In his career, Dierking has set school records with 5,785 yards rushing and 86 touchdowns in 38 games. When Grange was in high school (1917-21), the school was known as Wheaton High and later as Wheaton Central. Grange's rushing yardage was not recorded, but he scored 75 touchdowns.

Dierking's numbers prompt Muhitch to say he is the best running back in the history of the school, and they make him the 2006 Chicago Sun-Times football Player of the Year.

''It feels great, but all the credit goes to the offensive line and my coaches because they've helped so much,'' Dierking said. ''If not for the offensive line, there is no way I would have had over 2,000 yards.''

Dierking praised senior offensive linemen Kyle Antos, Phil Bochat, Tim Day, John Roberson and Will Matte. It is because of the line that Dierking will hold a high place in Wheaton football history.

''Before I played, I looked up [Grange's] records and dreamed of beating him,'' said Dierking, who suffered a stinger to his back during the Tigers' 44-15 quarterfinal victory Saturday against Barrington.

Dierking left the Barrington game in the second quarter, but he rushed for 100 yards and scored a touchdown. Muhitch said Dierking will be ready to play against York.

Muhitch describes Dierking as a ''throwback player,'' one who is deceptively fast, runs hard without a graceful style and has the humility and work ethic Grange displayed.

''When you look at the eyes of Red Grange, you think, 'That's a guy I don't want to tackle,''' Muhitch said. ''That's probably true of most kids that have played against Danny. I think that's what everybody remembers about Red Grange. And being from the same hometown helps.''

Dierking has wanted to play football since he was a child. He didn't start until fifth grade and ''was dying to play'' the sport his father excelled in. Scott Dierking played at West Chicago, then at Purdue before an eight-year NFL career with the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

''I helped him when he was younger, but in high school I pulled away and stayed hands-off,'' Scott Dierking said. ''It just seems like yesterday when students were yelling, 'He's a sophomore.'''

But there was no pressure on the younger Dierking to match the achievements of his father.

''He was always such a positive influence,'' Dan Dierking said. ''He was always telling me I was doing a great job and giving me pointers.''

Next season, Dierking will continue a family tradition by attending Purdue. Not only did his father go there, but so did his mother. And his older sister, Caitlin, is a junior at the school.

''He's carried our team offensively for three years and is an outstanding young man,'' Muhitch said. ''He's the consummate team captain by example. I'm going to miss him personally because he's our workhorse.''

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