Will 3rd Tracey be the charm? Another Alleman title game, another Tracey in the fold

Originally Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2012, 7:18 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 22, 2012, 11:21 pm
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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

As his two sons take turns discussing their football careers, Mike Tracey quietly waits for his moment to speak.

On cue, the patriarch reveals a secret.

"Never pushed them," Mike says. "If I pushed anything, it would be baseball."

Football, though, defines this group.

All three play an integral role in Alleman's proud football heritage. Up until this season, Mike was the program's all-time winningest coach with 93 career victories. Kevin, a 2006 graduate, played running back on a pair of Western Big 6 Conference championship teams before becoming an assistant coach. John, a current senior, rounds out the group, being a two-year starting quarterback and defensive back.

Oh yeah, the trio also are part of all five Alleman teams to reach the state championship game.

"We've been blessed with everything," Mike, now the United Township athletic director, said a day after Alleman reached its fifth state title game in program history. "It wouldn't have been an upset if any of us had not gotten there along the path. Something could've gone wrong these five times quite easily."

And to think baseball appears to be the sport of choice in the family.

"Not many people get to experience what we have," Kevin said. "It's a bond. It's nice."

Football and Alleman seem to go together, a tradition that started when the school opened its doors in 1949. Key to the Pioneers' success is the revolving door of families who keep the program on a winning level.

For example, the last three state championship appearances involved a Wetherell. John will serve as an assistant in his third title game for his alma mater, oldest son Kevin was a running back/defensive back two years ago and youngest son Sean is a current running back/linebacker.

Even current head coach Dave DeJaegher has been on the staff in each game.

So, names that appear on recent rosters resemble those from decades past. Anyone with a copy of Alleman's five state championship programs will notice a common theme.

That would be a Tracey.

"We're blessed," Mike said.

All this started 26 years ago when Mike guided the Pioneers to their first-ever state title game after beating four undefeated teams — including defending Class 4A champion Washington — in consecutive weeks.

The historic run ended with a 21-15 loss to Tinley Park. Four years later, Mike took another Alleman team back to state before suffering a 21-13 defeat against Belleville Althoff.

"It was very rewarding and very fun," Mike said of the two championship appearances.

Another 15 years passed before the Pioneers reached their third state final. In that stretch, Mike went from coach to parent as he watched Kevin play in the 2005 Class 5A state championship game.

Once again, the Pioneers returned to the Quad-Cities with a second-place trophy after a 28-21 loss to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin.

"It was a lot of fun," Kevin said. "Playing in some of the biggest games in Alleman history probably was what I remember most."

More memories will be made tonight. Kevin was an assistant for the 2010 Class 4A runner-up team, but that experience will not compare to watching his younger brother, John, play quarterback for the Pioneers.

There is excitement but also nerves. Dad says the same thing.

"Mostly, I'm excited," Kevin said. "I'm hoping (John) makes the right reads on everything and stays healthy."

John just hopes to end Alleman's winless streak in state championship games.

"Maybe we'll see if the third Tracey's a charm," John said. "It would be nice to win one and bring it back to the school."

A state title would be a nice keepsake to a journey filled with memories. Mike indicates that Kevin keeps his all over the family house.

"No, no, no," Kevin said. "I've got one highlight video I show. That's the only thing."

Sitting in between the middle of the two, John stays quiet, banking on the cliche he mentioned before.

"We've been lucky so far," John said. "Maybe the luck will continue."

It already has.

"We're lucky," Kevin said, "because we've been in five of them."

With that statement, the conversation ends before Mike interjects one last time.

"I hope it ends with a victory," Mike said.

Either way, a special run ends tonight.

A family of Pioneers

Mike Tracey: Coached the Pioneers to state runner-up finishes in 1986 and 1990. Up until this season, his 93 victories made him Alleman's all-time winningest coach.

Kevin Tracey: Caught two touchdown passes in the Pioneers' 28-21 loss to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in the 2005 Class 5A state championship game. On the Alleman staff for the 2010 and 2012 Class 4A state championship games.

John Tracey: Alleman's leading rusher and passer this season. Listed on the Pioneers' varsity roster for their 2010 Class 4A state runner-up team.

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