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High school football: Influential former Buffalo Grove football coach Grant Blaney dies at the age of 85

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Grant Blaney, who started the Buffalo Groves football program and led it to an undefeated state title 12 years later, died Tuesday.

He was 85.

Blaney played at Amundsen and Iowa State before embarking on a long coaching career, including assistant stints at Thornridge and Wheeling before coming to Buffalo Grove when the school opened in 1973.

The Bisons’ first season in football was 1974 and just four years later, they finished second in Class 5A with a record of 11-2. That started a nine-year run in which Buffalo Grove became 102-13, ending with a 14-0 season and the 6A-title in 1986.

It was the first state title for a Mid-Suburban League school.

Blaney resigned after the 1989 season, finishing 133-45 in 17 years. But his coaching career was far from over.

He spent time as an assistant at Harper College and Lake Forest College before joining Chris Schremps at Prairie Ridge in 2005.

Blaney came to the Wolves through his connection with veteran coach Bill Mack.

The way I got Coach Blaney to my staff, I knew Bill Mack, he taught me the option, Schremp said Wednesday. I said, Coach, do you have any of your old henchmen who want to join my staff? He was the one who told me about Grant.

The partnership lasted until 2008, when Blaney retired. Schremp believes it laid the foundation for Prairie Ridge as the elite program it is today with three state titles and runner-up since 2011.

Bill Mack, he really taught me the X’s and O’s, ”said Schremp. I’ve always felt that Grant Blaney taught me the art of coaching.

He was at the end of his career, but to see the connection he made with 15- and 16-year-old kids, those kids loved him until the end.

Schremp said Blaney was ahead of his time in striving to spearhead two of today’s most successful programs.

He was among the first for two things, said Schremp. He was one of the first public school coaches to really push (the importance of) the weight room. And he was huge at two-platoon football, giving (more) kids the chance to play.

Three years after he left Prairie Ridge, and 25 years after the Bisons state title, Buffalo Grove named the football stadium in Blaney’s honor.

It was one of many awards, including the Conference and State Coach of the Year Awards.

But perhaps Blaney’s most enduring legacy was his style of collaboration.

He taught me a lot of intangible things, said Schremp. He did everything he could to make our team better.

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