Ford Central High School "Cougars"

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Ford Central High School Building
Photo by Richard Soseman

Ford Central School Building From Side
Submitted by Richard Soseman

The History of Ford Central High School
Piper City (population 781) is located in upper-eastern Illinois about 25 miles east-southeast of Pontiac. The town was platted in the north-central "panhandle" region of Ford County. U.S. Route 24 intersects with Illinois Route 115 on the "outskirts" of the south and west sides of Piper City, giving a lot of road travel to and from the town. According to Map Quest (, the Toledo, Peoria, & Western Railroad is the owner of the railroad tracks that divide Piper City.  A branch of the North Fork of the Vermillion River flows both to the west and to the east of Piper City.
Roberts (population 387) is located on Il. Route 54 approximately 40 miles southwest of Kankakee. This places Roberts in northern Ford County. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad runs through the center of the town.
Thawville (population 258) is located in far western Iroquois County on Il. Route 54. This places the town approximately 35 miles southwest of Kankakee. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad runs through the center of the village
At one time all three towns featured their own high schools. In 1949 Roberts and Thawville combined their schools to create the Roberts-Thawville School District.  Dwindling enrollment was the cause for consolidation talks between Piper City High School and Roberts-Thawville High School.  This effort became a reality in 1974 with the creation of the Ford Central School District. The high school for the Ford Central School District was located in Piper City.
Ford Central High School had a lot of success in its short tenure.  Continued declining enrollment forced further consolidation talks for the residents of the three towns. It was decided in 1992 that the Ford Central School District would be deactivated. 
Residents of the three towns decided to "go their own way". The Piper City kids were annexed to the Tri-Point (Cullom) School District, the Roberts kids now attend school at PBL, and the Thawville kids go to Iroquois West (Gilman).
The former Ford Central High School building is now used as the Tri-Point Junior High School,
Ford Central High School Quick Facts
Year created:                  1974
Year closed:                   1992
School building today:      Tri-Point Junior High School
School nickname:            the "Cougars"
School colors:                 Columbia Blue & Gold
School Fight Song:          "Go U Ford Central"
                                      (Tune of Northwestern University Fight Song)
                                        Go U Ford Central,
                                        Break right through that line!
                                        With our colors flying,
                                        We will cheer for you all the time!
                                        Rah   Rah   Rah!
                                        Go U Ford Central,
                                        Fight for victory!
                                        Fight for the fame of our great name,
                                        Go Ford Central win this game!!
                                        Cha-he  Cha-ha  Cha-ha-ha-ha
                                        Ford Central Cougars
                                        RAH    RAH    RAH!!!!
The Ford Central Cougars were an extremely competitive bunch.  The sports of boys and girls baskeball, boys and girls track, football, and volleyball all enjoyed a measure of success in the IHSA playoffs ( All of this in only 18 years of existence! 
The Cougars participated in the Vermillion Valley Conference for most of the early years of their existence.  V.V.C. members included the Chatsworth Bluebirds, Gilman Owls, Onarga Indians, Forrest-Strawn-Wing Eskimos, Tri-Point Chargers, Reddick Bulldogs, Cornell Cardinals, Milford Bearcats, and the Saunemin Eagles.  They moved to the Sangamon Valley Conference in the 1980s where they played the likes Gardner-South Wilmington and the Mazon-Verona-Kinsman Red Devils.  .  
The best of their seasons are listed below.

Ford Central HS Gym 2016
Photo by Bruce Firchau

Ford Central HS Gym Bleachers 2016
Photo by Bruce Firchau (left click on photo for larger view)

Ford Central HS Gym Stage 2016
Photo by Bruce Firchau (left click on photo for larger view)

Ford Central HS Gym 2016
Photo by Bruce Firchau (left click on photo for larger view)

Girls Basketball
The best overall and longest sustained success came from the FCHS Lady Cougar basketball program. There were no "losing" seasons, three undefeated regular seasons, three Sweet 16 apppearances, two Elite 8 appearances, five Regional Championships, and 4 seasons of 20 or more wins.   Check out the season by season coverage below.
1974-75    8 - 1                                                   Coach Amy Shook
1975-76  10 - 0       (no girls state playoffs)            Coach Amy Shook
1976-77  14 - 2                                                    Coach Amy Shook
1977-78  12 - 4                                                    Coach Lynn Block
1978-79    9 - 5                                                    Coach Hollis Hollenberg
1979-80  16 - 2       Regional Champions            Coach John Sullivan
1980-81  18 - 5                                                    Coach John Sullivan
1981-82  13 - 7                                                    Coach John Sullivan
1982-83  19 - 5                                                    Coach John Sullivan
1983-84  15 - 6                                                    Coach Mike Grace
1984-85  20 - 6       Regional Champions            Coach Mike Grace
                             Sectional Champions
                             Sweet 16 Qualifier
1985-86  25 - 1       Undefeated Reg. Season      Coach Bob Campbell
                             Regional Champions            
                             Sectional Champions
                             Super-Sectional Champs
                             Elite 8 Qualifier
                             Lost to Teutopolis 57 - 49
1986-87  28 - 1       Undefeated Reg. Season      Coach Bob Campbell 
                             Regional Champions             
                             Sectional Champions
                             Super-Sectional Champs
                             Elite 8 Qualifier
                             Lost to Seneca 54-49
1987-88  23 - 2       Regional Champions             Coach Bob Campbell
Overall record 1974-75 through 1987-88:    230 wins - 47 losses   .830 winning % 
1988-89 through 1991-92 seasons not currently available.    

Boys Basketball
The Ford Central Cougars also had success on the hardwood court. The boys won two Regional titles and had several successful seasons as well.  The best are listed below.
1976-77    16 - 10        Regional Champions                Coach Randy Feller
1977-78    12 - 10                                                         Coach Randy Feller
1978-79    19 - 9          Regional Champions                Coach Randy Feller
1979-80    22 - 5                                                           Coach Randy Feller
1980-81    18 - 9                                                           Coach Randy Feller
1981-82    13 - 11                                                         Coach Larry Clones
1983-84    13 - 13                                                         Coach Dale Cupples
1984-85    15 - 10                                                         Coach Dale Cupples
1985-86                                                                       Coach Wayne Czyz
Coach Randy Feller would go on to have 300+ coaching wins in his career with a stop at Hoopeston East Lynn included.  Records and coach's names for 1986-87 to 1991-92 not available.
Great Players:
1970s - Doug Johnson
The Ford Central Cougars of the grid iron had at least two seasons where they excelled.  The Cougars made the Class 1A playoffs once and the Class 2A playoffs once during their existence, advancing to the Class 1A Sweet 16 in 1985.     
1985-86              Qualified for IHSA Class 1A Playoffs      Coach Vic Jennings
                          Sweet 16 Finalists 
                          Beat Flanagan 28 - 8 in the 1st Round
                          Lost to Bloomington Central Cath. 21 - 0
1991-92              Qualified for IHSA Class 2A Playoffs       Coach Duane Hitchens
                          Lost to Seneca 14 - 12 in the 1st Round
Girls Track & Field
One name defines the State Meet success for girl's track program at Ford Central High.  The Delap girls, Lisa and Lori, led the Cougars to a seventh place finish in the 1976-77 state track meet.  Remember, this was a one class system, making their accomplishments even more incredible.  In 1977 Lori was the 1 Mile run Champion and Lisa finished 2nd in the 880 Yard Run.
1975-76    Individual Medalist   
                Lori Delap   1 Mile Run        2ND Place
1976-77    Team Finished SEVENTH in STATE MEET Competition
                Individual Medalists
                Lori Delap   1 Mile Run        STATE CHAMPION!!
                Lisa Delap   880 Yard Run    2ND Place
                Final Team Standings
                1.)  East Moline                              16
                2.)  Evanston                                  15
                3.)  Cahokia                                   14
                4.)  Proviso West                            13
                5.)  Watseka                                  12
                5.)  Illiopolis                                    12
                7.)  PIPER CITY FORD CENTRAL - 10
                7.)  Galesburg                                10
                9.)   Bartonville Limestone                 9
              10.)  Chicago Lindbloom                     8
              10.)  Chicago U-High                          8
Boys Track & Field
One Cougar male athlete brought home a medal from the State Track Meet.  His accomplishment is listed below.
1988-89    Individual Medalist
               Steve Lee                 200 Meter Dash          3RD Place
Girls Volleyball               
The lady netters at Ford Central also won a couple of trophies.  The teams of 1978-79 and 1979-80 won District titles.  Unfortunately the records of these and other great FCHS volleyball teams are not available.
1978-79          District Champions
1979-80          District Champions
As you have read, we are missing a lot of pieces to the Ford Central High School page. What were some of the records of the teams not mentioned? Who were their coaches?  What about the other extra-curricular activities offered at the school?  If you have this information please write to us at  You can also write to us via real mail at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.   60631

Former Piper City Ford Central High School
Now Cullom Tri-Point Junior High