Saybrook High School "Comanches"

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Saybrook High School

Saybrook High School 1895-1929
Courtesy of Saybrook 175th Anniversary book 1825-2000

The History of Saybrook High School
Saybrook (population 764) is located in eastern Illinois in the southeastern portion of McLean County. The town is located in a country setting on McLean County Road N3850 East Road about a mile south of Illinois Route 9. According to Saybrook's web site (, the town is known as the "City of Shade and Water." This is verified by the three branches of the Sangamon River which flow through town along with the pond located on the northwest side of Saybrook. The Norfolk & Western Railroad line runs through town as well and probably has a lot to do with its location. The town was settled in 1850 and first known as Chenney's Grove. The name was changed to Saybrook in 1865 after towns of the same name in either Connecticut or Ohio.
The townspeople of Saybrook began an educational system for its children as early as 1932, but the first high school courses were not offered until 1886. Saybrook was first settled in 1825 by Jonathon Cheney, for whom the township (Cheney's Grove) is named after. The name Saybrook comes from the name of a similar community in Connecticut. 

Inscription on 1895 building for Saybrook HS
courtesy of Saybrook 175th anniversary book 1825-2000

A combination grade & high school building was built in 1895, and continued doing so until 1929, by which time four years of classes were being offered (having started in 1920). A new high school building was ready for occupancy (as shown at the top of the page) in 1929, allowing the grade school to take over the older location. It was in the late 1940's and early 1950's that consolidation talks with nearby Arrowsmith began. The consolidation of the two schools took place in 1952. The new district was simply named Saybrook-Arrowsmith.
The high school for the Saybrook-Arrowsmith District was located in Saybrook and was housed in the building above until its 1989 merger with Colfax Octavia. The first building pictured above was demolished in 1988, and the second building was torn down in 1992. The gymnasium from the 1929 location is still standing, now used as the township garage

Saybrook School Memorial 2015

Saybrook High School Identification Stone 2015
Saybrook High School 1895

Saybrook High School Quick Facts
Year opened (as a 2-yr school):        1886
First building opened:                         1895
Four-year school began:                    1920
New building opened:                        1929 
Year consolidated with Arrowsmith:1952
Year buildings razed:                          1988 & 1992
Gymnasium today:                               still standing - used as township garage
School nickname:                                "Comanches"
School colors:                                      Red & White
School Fight Song:                              unavailable
It is a fact that the Saybrook Comanches competed in basketball and football. It is probable that at some point track and baseball were also offered. While it was in operation, Saybrook was a member of the Tri-Valley Conference along with Anchor, Arrowsmith, Cooksville, Colfax, Towanda, Downs, Ellsworth, and Cropsey, all of which have their own pages on this website. If you have more information regarding other conference affiliation and records of the better teams that competed at Saybrook, please forward the information to us.
The Saybrook High School Comanches competed in football at least during the 1949-50 though 1951-52 school years. Though their records are not available, the photos of the teams are on the web site If you have any information you can add regarding the gridiron exploits of the Comanches, please drop us a line.
1949-50                     Coach Dean Short 

Saybrook High School Comanches
1949-50 Football Team

1950-51                     Coach Russell McKeon
1951-52    4-2-1       Coach Russell McKeon

Saybrook High School Comanches
1951-52 Football Team, SHS' Final Season

The boys basketball team won a total of 4 District titles. Their last District title came in their last year of existence as a solo school and brought with it a 25-7 record. The seasons as they are listed on the IHSA web site are listed below. 
Several scores involving Saybrook High School playing in the IHSA State Tournament were located on a website titled "Illlinois Postseason Basketball Scores." These scores, as well as other information provided by Dean Bentley, are printed below. Let us know if you have any more information about these and other great SHS teams.

Saybrook High School Gym Building 2015
Left Click on Photo for Larger View

Saybrook High School Gym Building 2015
Left Click on Photo for Larger View

1913-14              McLean County Jr. Division Champs        Coach's name & record needed
1914-15              McLean County Tourney Champs             Coach's name & record needed
1916-17 through 1929-30  Postseason scores, records, and coaches' names needed.
1929-30  22-5                                                                               Coach George Benjamin
                             Postseason scores unavailable
1930-31  20-6                                                                               Coach George Benjamin
                             Postseason scores unavailable
1931-32  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1932-33  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1933-34              Gibson City District Tournament                 Coach's name & record needed. 
                             1st Rd lost to Paxton 26-16
                             Paxton lost in semi-final round.
1934-35              Fisher District Tournament                          Coach's name & record needed
                             1st Rd lost to Cropsey 24-21
                             Cropsey lost in 2nd Rd.
1935-36              McLean County Tourney Champs             Coach's name & record needed
                             Postseason scores unavailable
1936-37              McLean County Tourney Champs             Coach's name & record needed
                             Gibson City Regional Tournament
                             1st Rd lost to Rantoul 22-18
                             Rantoul lost to Paxton in title game
1937-38              Gibson City District Champions!                Coach's name & record needed.
                             District scores needed.
                             IHSA Regional Tourney Scores Needed
1938-39              Gibson City Regional Runner-Up!               Coach's name & record needed
                             1st Rd Beat Loda 23-19
                             Semi-final Beat Rantoul 37-27
                             Title Game lost to Paxton 46-31
1939-40  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1940-41  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1941-42              Fisher Regional Semi-Finalist                     Coach's name & record needed
                             1st Rd Beat Mahomet 28-27
                             Semi-final lost to Urbana U-High 43-20
                             Urbana U-High lost title game to Urbana HS
1942-43  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1943-44  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1944-45  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1945-46  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1946-47  16-11   Postseason scores needed.                      Coach Leigh
1947-48  28-4    IHSA District Champions!                            Coach Dean Short
                              1st Rd Beat Loda 83-24
                              Semi-Final Beat Thawville
                              Title Game Beat Buckley 45-41
                              Paxton Regional Runner-Up!
                              1st Rd Beat Rantoul 58-54
                              Semi-Final Beat Onarga 71-68
                              Title Game lost to Onarga Military 60-58
1948-49              McLean County Tourney Champs             Coach Dean Short
                             (record needed)
                             Gibson City Regional Semi-Finalist
                             1st Rd Beat Onarga Military 54-45
                             Semi-final lost to Gibson City 58-56 (O/T)
                             Gibson City lost title game to Buckley
1949-50             Ellsworth District Champions!                    Coach Dean Short 
                            Semi-final Beat Gridley 59-39
                            Title Game Beat Bellflower 80-61
                            Chenoa Regional Tournament
                            1st Rd lost to Chenoa 77-53
                            Chenoa lost to Lexington in semi-final
1950-51  16-8   Sibley District Tournament                           Coach Russell McKeon
                             Semi-final lost to Buckley 59-40
                             Buckley beat Ellsworth for title.
1951-52  25-7   Sibley District Champions!                           Coach Russell McKeon
                            Semi-final Beat Roberts-Thawville 48-46
                            Title Game Beat Melvin Sibley 49-48
                            Onarga Regional Runner-Up!
                            1st Rd Beat Onarga Military 72-50
                            Semi-final Beat Gibson City 43-38
                            Title Game lost to Rantoul 62-50
*The final year (1951-52) for the Saybrook High School "Comanches" as the school would consolidate with Arrowsmith in the summer of 1952 to form the Saybrook-Arrowsmith School District.
**One of the best players to grace the hardwood for Saybrook High School was Lester "Babe" Hawthorne, who played for the 1951-52 District Champs. His 50 points in a February 19, 1952 game against Heyworth was the school record. In that season alone, Babe averaged 23.8 points per game, which was part of a career total of 1,578 points.
After graduating as the valedictorian of his class, Hawthorne went on to play for the University of Iowa and was a starter on the 1955-56 Hawkeye team that faced Bill Russell and the University of San Francisco in the NCAA championship game. With Babe in the lineup, the Hawkeyes won the Big Ten conference title twice!
Help us document the memories of Saybrook High School BEFORE it was Saybrook-Arrowsmith High. If you have ANY information you wish to add to this page please e-mail us at You can also write to us at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.   60631