If you had told 15-year-old Joe Dredge that the Harlem Huskies would be playing Boylan for the outright NIC-10 title, he would NOT have believed you. 

I am a proud graduate of Harlem High School. Class of '97. Our football team was respectable by the time I graduated, but it was far from competitive by freshman and sophomore years. They were historically bad. Literally. They set an Illinois state record with 47 consecutive losses from 1988-94. I do remember the game they won to snap the streak.

Now, I'm accessing a 25-year-old memory, but I'm pretty sure it was against East, and I'm also pretty sure the final score was 7-6. There was a missed extra point at the end to win it for Harlem. I would have celebrated by spraying silly string around the student section, but Swede Pearson had confiscated it earlier in the game. Mr. Pearson would also give me my only out of school suspension a few years later when I was a senior, but that's a different story.

So the thought of Harlem:

  1. Being undefeated this far into the season
  2. Being ranked as a top ten team in the state
  3. Having a starting QB that set conference records for passing and
  4. Having the chance to beat Boylan for a NIC-10 (it was the NIC-10 back then, RIP West) title

Were pipe dreams that just didn't seem possible.

Well after Harlem came back from 17-points down against Hononegah last week, they find themselves ranked #7 in Class 6A in Illinois.

Boylan, also undefeated, is ranked #4 in 5A.

The two teams square off Saturday afternoon at Harlem for the NIC-10 crown.

I'm very proud of what the Harlem football program has become, it's nice to see your alma mater set records in football that has nothing to do with futility. Good luck to all the players in Saturday's matchup.

CHECK IT OUT: 100 sports records and the stories behind them