A resume with three state football titles in 12 years at Prospect gave Brent Pearlman plenty of choices.
That did not necessarily mean Pearlman was looking for a football program with a record filled with success.
What mattered to Pearlman was the right fit. That's why he is returning to head coaching at Wheeling after a year as Lake Zurich's offensive coordinator.
"I think I definitely knew there was a strong chance I wanted to be a head coach again after I left Prospect," Pearlman said. "It was going to have to be the right situation and this is a place I felt was an opportunity for a huge amount of growth and the building of something."
Pearlman built a Prospect program that had not won a playoff game into a state power with Class 7A titles in 2001, 2002 and 2005. He compiled a 104-34 record with six Mid-Suburban East titles at the school where he still teaches physical education.
Pearlman was officially announced Friday to replace Dave Dunbar, who retired after 11 seasons and led Wheeling to a share of the 2007 MSL East title and another playoff berth in 2008.
"Dave did a great job leaving us in a pretty good spot with his work ethic and what was expected of his players," said Wheeling assistant principal for student activities Steve May. "Brent has proven he has to be considered one of the top football coaches in the state."
Pearlman was ready to return as a head coach after his year at Lake Zurich, where Bryan Stortz just left this week after a successful six-year tenure with a state title to take over the Rock Island program.
"I loved the Lake Zurich experience and it was an absolute blast," Pearlman said. "It was really valuable and it was a great experience, but I do think there came a point where it dawned on me again that I really like leading a program.
"I missed it this year, but I didn't miss it so much that I was going to go anywhere. This was an opportunity that I felt was a great place."
Pearlman said the potential to replicate what was accomplished at Prospect was a big draw with Wheeling. The school just installed field turf and new lights and revamped the outside of its athletic stadium before last season.
"The thing that really excited me about Wheeling is the school is doing tremendously," Pearlman said. "There is a sense of growth there and you can feel it.
"I definitely get the sense not only from the administration but building-wide there is a desire to succeed in athletics and that's exciting to see, too.
"I don't think there is anything more thrilling than to build it. The moments of building and laying the foundation (at Prospect) was just thrilling and that's very exciting to me."
Wheeling has been to the playoffs seven times but its only postseason win was in 1994. Pearlman has always been impressed with the competitiveness of the players in the program while he was coaching at Prospect and playing at Buffalo Grove.
"I believe winning takes care of itself and winning is the result of other things, and the other things are what I enjoy," Pearlman said. "The opportunity to build a foundation is very appealing to me.
"The way Wheeling kids have played is a huge credit to the staff that was there. They instilled that warrior mentality and they've done great things there.
"Now we need to see if we can take it to a more consistent and higher level. I'm genuinely really excited. It's over the top exciting."