Joliet Central High School "Steelmen"

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Joliet Central High School
Designed by alum Louise Lentz Woodruff, courtesy of

                                 The History of Joliet Central High School
Joliet (population 129,519) is located in northeastern Illinois in west-central Will County. In fact, is the county seat of Will County and spills over into Kendall County to the west. Joliet was platted in 1834 and officially incorporated in 1852.  After much discussion over the town's early name (it was known as Juliet from 1834 to 1845), the Joliet was settled upon to honor Louis Joliet, famous explorer who first viewed the area in 1673.
According to MapQuest (, Joliet has several major roadways and railways leading to and from it. Interstate Highway 80 is the main thoroughfare leading to Joliet, which is located just east of Interstate Highway 55.  The Illinois Routes of 7, 53, and 171 as well as the U.S. Routes of 6, 30, and 52 all lead to Joliet. The Des Plaines River flows through town as it has for thousands of years. Railroad tracks include Amtrak, the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe, the Elgin, Joliet, & Eastern, and the Illinois Central Gulf.
Joliet's excellent location led to its population bursting soon after its incorporation. A high school for the children of the town was opened in 1880 when students from both sides of the river came together for educational purposes under the guidance of Colonel D.H. Darling. The Joliet Township district was created in 1899, extending past the city limits to widen its tax base, and build the four-story castle-like structure you see at the top of the page.
Construction began in 1900 by the Adam Groth Construction Company, using Joliet limestone, Bedford stone, and marble to construct the school. A week-long series helped opened the school in April 1901, which included electric lights. Two hundred and thirty-five students moved into the new school, and it grew to more than one thousand within the next fifteen years. School additions were made in 1908, 1917, 1922, and again in 1931, and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The residents of Joliet were served by one high school (Joliet Township High School) for several years. The student population continued to grow each decade, finally forcing the issue of having more than one high school to appropriately serve the community. In 1964, two new high schools, Joliet West & Joliet East, were opened to relieve overcrowding at Joliet Township High (which was renamed Joliet Central).
All three schools served the community tremendously for two decades until declining enrollment forced board of education members to make some tough choices. In the fall of 1981, the board decided to close the school after the 1981-82 school year, but after three members were voted in on a platform of reversing that decision, and public outcry in the form of petitions with over 15,000 signatures were presented to the board presidents, the Joliet Township board reconsidered and kept Central open. However, a year later it closed Joliet East as it merged with Joliet Central. 
Ten years later in 1993, it was decided to keep both Joliet Central & Joliet West open, but all extra-curricular activities were combined as if they were only one high school district. This arrangement continued until the fall of 2010 when both Joliet Central and Joliet West resumed their separate extra-curricular activities. Due to the resumption of their own programs and given the unusual turn of events, it has been decided by the site authors not to add information to this page as well as Joliet West's beginning with the 2010-11 school year, but rather leave them as if each school stopped their program as of 1993.
Year opened at JTHS:                         1880
Year that high school building opened: 1901
Year opened as Joliet Central:             1964
Year it reverted back to JTHS:             1993
Resumption of Central HS:                  2010
School colors:                                   Blue & Gold
School nickname:                             "Steelmen"
School newspaper:                           "JTC Journal"
School yearbook:                             "The J" 
School song:                                    "JT Central Loyalty"
(written by Warren Wood, Florence Martin, Claude Robison, & Allen Touzalin, all JTHS class of 1927 members)
                                             Joliet High, we're always loyal
                                             To thee we'll e're be true
                                             With a battle cry of "Onward,"
                                             We will fight for Gold and Blue
                                             Rah! Rah!
                                             Joliet High is on to battle
                                             We'll conquer ev'ry foe
                                             We have a fighting spirit
                                             on to vict'ry we will go!

Joliet Central offered a wide-variety of sports and activities for its students. The boys had their choice among football, cross-country, soccer, basketball, wrestling, swimming, baseball, tennis, and track. On the other hand, the girls could compete in volleyball, tennis, basketball, track, softball, and bowling, According to the IHSA website (www.ihsa,org) no records were found for cross-country, golf, and gymnastics for both genders, and soccer, swimming, and softball for girls. We are aware that several of those sports were offered, and would appreciate more information if it is available by contacting us at the addresses listed below,


From the moment Joliet Township split into three schools, Central staked its reputation as a basketball school. Coaches Ed Woods, Dale Glenn, and Greg Peden all had winning percentages of at least .575 to keep the school at the forefront of top basketball teams in the state of Illinois. The 1969-70 team is considered the best team to have represented the school, getting third in the single-class state tournament, and led by All-Stater Roger Powell, the father of University of Illinois hoops star Roger Powell, Jr. from the 2005 Fighting Illini squad that took second in the NCAA Division I mens’ tournament.


1964-65   15-12    First season as Joliet Central                Coach Ed Woods

                           Centralia Tourney Cons. Champs

1965-66   24-  8    Regional Champions                         Coach Ed Woods

                              Ottawa Sectional Champions

                               Peoria Super Sectional Winners—Beat Pekin 63-50

                                Lost in Elite Eight to Belleville 74-72

                                Albert Crusoe named to All-Tournament Team 

1966-67   20-  6                                                              Coach Ed Woods

1967-68   10-15                                                              Coach Ed Woods

1969-70   27-  7    3rd in State!!                                       Coach Dale Glenn

                             Joliet Regional Champions             

                              Lockport Sectional Champions

                               Evanston Super Sectional Winners

                               Beat Park Ridge Maine South 71-68

                                Beat in Okawville in Elite Eight 56-43

                                 Lost to LaGrange Lyons 63-52 in semifinals

                                  Downed Peoria Spalding 82-75 for third place

                                  (LaGrange Lyons eventual state champ)

                                  Roger Powell leading scorer & was all-tournament  

1970-71   26-  4    Joliet Regional Champions          Coach Dale Glenn

     Lost to eventual state champ Dolton Thornridge in Joliet Central Sectional finals 68-63

                               Rated #3 in final Regular Season Associated Press Poll

1971-72   23-  6    AA Regional Champions             Coach Dale Glenn

                               Lost to Lockport Central in Joliet Central AA Sectional Finals 59-58               

1972-73   24-  4    AA Regional Champions             Coach Dale Glenn

                               Rated #8 in final regular season Associated Press Poll

1973-74   15-11                                                        Coach Dale Glenn

1974-75   25-  4    AA Regional Champions             Coach Dale Glenn

                               Rated #15 in final regular season Associated Press Poll

1975-76   26-  5    AA Regional Champions             Coach Dale Glenn

                              Lost to Bloomington HS in Kankakee Westview AA Sectional Finals 87-63

                               Rated #12 in final regular season AP poll

1976-77   21-  5    AA Regional Champions             Coach Dale Glenn

1977-78   24-  7    AA Regional Champions             Coach Dale Glenn

                              Lost to Danville HS in Normal AA Sectional Finals 57-52

1978-79   14-11                                                        Coach Dale Glenn

1979-80   19-  7                                                        Coach Dale Glenn

1980-81   15-10                                                        Coach Dale Glenn

1981-82   16-10                                                        Coach Greg Peden

1982-83   21-  6                                                        Coach Greg Peden

1983-84   20-  7                                                        Coach Greg Peden

1984-85   15-12                                                        Coach Greg Peden

1985-86   12-15                                                        Coach Greg Peden

1986-87   15-12  AA Regional Champions               Coach Greg Peden

1987-88   11-14                                                        Coach Greg Peden

1988-89   21-  9  AA Regional Champions               Coach Greg Peden

                            AA Sectional Champions

                             Lost in AA Aurora East Super Sectional to Chicago Hts. Bloom Twp. 69-68     

1989-90   23-  7                                                        Coach Greg Peden

1990-91   17-  8                                                        Coach Greg Peden

1991-92   22-  5                                                        Coach Greg Peden

1992-93   21-  8                                                        Coach Greg Peden


**Success attained at the Bloomington-Normal State Farm Holiday Classic Tournament as submitted by Mark Jurenga


All-Tournament Selections
1979 - Novel Woods
1977 - Isiah Williams



Wrestling did not take a back seat to basketball in the winter as a sport; in fact, it produced seven state champions along with a team title under legendary coach Eural “Mac” McLaughlin.
1969-70              Individual Placer 
                             Mike Barden                STATE CHAMPION-- Heavyweight   
1970-71   7-  9                                             Coach Eural "Mac" McLaughlin
1971-72   9-  5                                             Coach Eural "Mac" McLaughlin
                            Individual Placer
                              Greg Maxey                 4th place---98 pounds   
1972-73 13-  2  1 District Champions          Coach Eural "Mac" McLaughlin
                            Individual Placer
                              Greg Maxey                2nd place---105 pounds
1973-74               Individual Placer
                               Greg Maxey               STATE CHAMPION ---112 pounds
1974-75              Individual Placer
                                Scott Trizzino           STATE CHAMPION---132 pounds 
1975-76              6th in State                      Coach Eural “Mac” McLaughlin 
                            Individual Placers
                                George Barefield       5th place---126 pounds
                                Scott Trizzino          STATE CHAMPION---132 pounds
1976-77              Individual Placer
                                Andy Tomala            4th place---167 pounds
1977-78              Individual Placer
                                Mark Trizzino          STATE CHAMPION---105 pounds
1978-79              Individual Placer 
                                 Mark Trizzino         STATE CHAMPION---112 pounds
1980-81              Individual Placer
                                  Louis Reed             3rd place---167 pounds  
1982-83              AA Regional Champions  Coach Eural “Mac” McLaughlin
1983-84              Individual Placer
                                  Joei Bales              2nd place---126 pounds  
1984-85  21- 0    STATE AA CHAMPIONS!!! Coach Eural “Mac” McLaughlin
                           Regional Champions 
                            Sectional Champions
                             Individual Placers
                              Joei Bales                 STATE CHAMPION---126 pounds
                              Carl Barefield            6th place---138 pounds
                              Sam Parker               2nd place---132 pounds   
1985-86  20- 2    SECOND IN AA FINALS!!   Coach Eural “Mac” McLaughlin
                            Regional Champions
                            Sectional Champions 
                             Individual Placers
                              Ray Palacios             2nd place---98 pounds
                              Steve Harmon           6th place---155 pounds
                              Scott Edman             2nd place---167 pounds
1986-87               Individual Placers
                              Tim Chaplin              2nd place---132 pounds
                              Mike Poloskey          3rd place----Heavyweight
1987-88                Individual Placers
                               Tim Chaplin             3rd place---138 pounds
1988-89                Individual Placers
                               Joe Esparza             2nd place---103 pounds
                               George Hoffman      2nd place---140 pounds
1989-90                Individual Placer
                                Warren Snapp        6th place---135 pounds  



There must have been something in the water in Joliet to produce outstanding track athletes at Joliet Central. Just like Joliet West, these girls could complete on the oval track and in field events. One team came home with a fifth place finish at the state meet one year, while several others came home to the City of Champions with medals.


1974        Individual Placer                                   coach unknown

                    Helen Walker      2nd place-discus        

1975        Individual/Relay Placers                        coach unknown

                    880-yard relay     6th place 

                    Marsha Tate        4th place-440-yard dash

1976        Individual/Relay Placers                       coach unknown

                    880-yard medley relay   4th place

                    Yoland Summitt   7th place-long jump

                    Marsha Tate        2nd place-440-yard dash

1977        Individual Placer                                  coach unknown 

                    Marsha Tate        3rd place- 440-yard dash

1978        Individual Placer—AA finals                 coach unknown

                    Rhonda Winfrey   8th place-100-yard dash

1980        Individual Placer—AA finals                 coach unknown

                    Marilyn Mitchell    5th place-high jump

1981        Individual/Relay Placers—AA finals     coach unknown 

                     4 x 400 meter relay      8th place

                     800 meter medley relay  5th place

                     Theresa Kula      6th place-discus

                     Beverly Neal       4th place-100 meter hurdles

1982       AA District Champions                          coach unknown

                Individual/Relay Placers—AA finals

                     800 medley meter relay  7th place

                     Cynthia Mitchell    3rd place-100 meter hurdles 

                                                   3rd place-long jump

                     Sheila Thomas      8th place-400 meter dash

1983        Individual/Relay Placers—AA finals    coach unknown

                     4 x 200 meter relay  6th place

                     Jody Sims               2nd place-100 meter dash

1985        Individual/Relay Placers—AA finals    coach unknown

                     4 x 100 meter relay   6th place

                     4 x 200 meter relay   5th place

                     800 meter medley relay   7th place

                     Rhonda Price           6th place-long jump

                     Beverly Thomas       6th place-200 meter hurdles

1986        AA Sectional Champions                     coach unknown

                 Individual/Relay Placers—AA finals

                     4 x 100 meter relay   4th place

                     4 x 200 meter relay   5th place

1987        AA Sectional Champions                     coach unknown

                 Individual Placers—AA finals

                  Lusonji Childs              6th place-100 meter dash    

1988        AA Sectional Champions                     coach unknown

                 Individual/Relay Placers—AA finals

                  4 x 200 meter relay      6th place

                  Lusonji Childs              5th place-100 meter dash

                                                       6th place-200 meter dash     

1989         5th in AA State Finals                         coach unknown 

             Team Standings

                  1  East St. Louis Lincoln            98  

                  2  Evanston                               66.5 

                  3  Wheaton North                      33  

                  4  Wheeling                              30  

                  5  Joliet Central                      20  

                  6  Blue Island Eisenhower          19  

                      Hinsdale Central                    19  

                  8  Belvidere                               18  

                      Edwardsville HS                    18  

                      Olympia Fields Rich Central   18                   

               Individual Placers

                     Sharron Evans    STATE CHAMPION!!--100 meter hurdles  

                                                  2nd place-300 meter hurdles

                                                  7th place-long jump

1991          Individual/Relay Placers—AA finals   coach unknown        

                   4 x 100 meter relay 8th place

                   Dela Cooper          7th place-long jump  

1992          Individual Placer—AA finals               coach unknown

                   Sue Dixon              4th place-high jump     

1993          Individual Placer—AA finals               coach unknown

                   Sue Dixon              3rd place-high jump     




The Steelwomen were active indoors on the badminton courts during the spring, winning three sectional titles in five years and placing in the top 10 of the state on one occasion, along with having two players place in the top five in singles.


1986   Sectional Champions                                   coach unknown

                   7th in State


                     1  Palatine HS                               13 

                     2  Villa Park Willowbrook                13  

                     3  Des Plaines Maine West            12  

                     4  Winnetka New Trier                    11 

                     5  Evanston Twp                            10 

                     6  Mt. Prospect Prospect                 9 

                     7  Tinley Park Andrew                      8  

                         Joliet Central                            8  

                     9  Aurora West                               7 

                         Deerfield                                     7   

              Individual Medalist

                  Terry Hibner-----4th in singles

1989   Sectional Champions                                 coach unknown     

1990   Sectional Champions                                 coach unknown

              Individual Medalist

                  Kris Sitar------5th in singles




The Steelmen program was tremendous on the diamonds of Joliet under Coach Jerry Pius, establishing a winning tradition and taking home a second place in state prior to the two-class system. One player went on to play in the Major Leagues… Jesse Barfield.


1972-73   26-  2                                                      Coach Jerry Pius

1973-74   27-  4  Regional Champions                   Coach Jerry Pius

1974-75   36-  4  2nd in State                                  Coach Jerry Pius

                            Regional Champions

                             Sectional Champions

                              Elite Eight Qualifier

                               Beat Aurora West 2-1 in 9 innings

                               Edged Decatur MacArthur 3-2

                               Lost to Skokie Niles West in Championship game 7-4        

1975-76    27-  4                                                     Coach Jerry Pius

1976-77    13-12                                                     Coach Jerry Pius




After a slow start following the opening of Joliet West & East, Central began to assert itself with a good football program in Joliet and in the Illini-8 Conference, taking on East, West, Joliet Catholic, Lockport, Romeoville, Summit Argo, and Marian Catholic of Chicago Heights for the conference title. The school later moved over the SICA West before merging the Central & West athletic programs in 1993. Here are some of the better records compiled by the Steelmen: 


1967   5-  3- 1                                                        coach unknown 

1969   7-  2                                                            Coach Ken Robbins

1970   6-  3                                                            Coach Ken Robbins

1974   6-  3                                                            Coach George Legan

1976   8-  2     4A State Quarterfinalist                  Coach George Legan

                        Illini-8 Co-Conference Champion

                         Lost to Roselle Lake Park 28-22

1977    5-                                                            Coach unknown   

1989    5-  4                                                           Coach unknown     




Joliet Central was a player in the prep basketball wars, winning three consecutive AA regionals before Joliet West and Central merged their athletic departments. One of its' better players was All-State guard Chris Prieboy, who won the honor three consecutive years in the late 1970's and went on to set the career scoring record at the University of St. Francis right there in Joliet.


1990-91   AA Regional Champions                        coach unknown

1991-92   AA Regional Champions                        coach unknown

1992-93   AA Regional Champions                        coach unknown




One team made it all the way to the supersectional before losing, but their win-loss record and coaches’ name is unknown. If you have any information, please contact us at the address below.


1979-80  District Champions                                 Coach unknown

               Sectional Champions




The Joliet Central soccer program built itself up at the school in the mid-‘80’s and early ‘90’s, proving their worth to the school’s athletic department under coaches Pat O’Connell and Mark Wilson. 


1985    13-  1                                                        Coach Pat O'Connell

1986    12-  4                                                        Coach Pat O'Connell

1987    12-  9                                                        Coach Pat O'Connell

1991    17-  1- 1                                                    Coach Mark Wilson

1992    10-  8                                                        Coach Mark Wilson




While there are no win-loss records or coaches’ names to report, the Steelmen were represented at the state swimming meet on three occasions with as many medalists in the top six of their events. 


Individual medalists

Curt Cramer             1965    100 back       5th place 

                                1966     200 free        5th place

Steve Weston          1970    100 free         6th place




The men of Steel were also stars on the track and field circuit, with several of them bringing home medals from the state track meet. Here’s a listing of those individual medalists: 


1965      Al Crusoe             440 yard dash—4th place

1974      Steve Martin         triple jump—5th place

1975AA  Steve Martin        long jump—4th place

1981AA  Craig Easley        100 meter hurdles—4th place

1986AA  Mike Poloskey     discus--5th place

1986AA  Phil Whitehead    100 meter hurdles—4th place

1987AA  Jeep Bales           300 meter hurdles—5th place

             Mike Poloskey      shotput—6th place

1988AA  Darrell Stuckey    800 meter run—7th place 

1991AA  4 x 400 meter relay—6th place

1993AA  4 x 200 meter relay—4th place

              4 x 400 meter relay--5th place 




The Steelwomen could also roll the ball down the lane. One individual was able to advance to the state bowling meet and place in the top five.


Individual Medalist

        Lisa Larsen            1985     4th place---2,187 pins




Joliet Central’s boys brought home some hardware from the state tournament series and even qualified one team for the state meet in 1985. If you have more information regarding the individuals or the boys’ tennis program, please contact us. 


1970   District Champions                                    coach unknown 

1975   District Champions                                    coach unknown

1985   Sectional Champions                                coach unknown 

            State Qualifiers




The Joliet Central drama club was prominent in the state as being one of the better thespian groups in the state, going to state three times and picking up some hardware in the process. 


1974-75   District Champions                               sponsor unknown 

1978-79   State Qualifiers                                    sponsor unknown

1981-82   District Champions                               sponsor unknown

1982-83   Regional Champions                            sponsor unknown

1987-88   Regional Champions                            sponsor unknown

1990-91   State Qualifiers                                    sponsor unknown 

                   4th in State 


                      1  Harvey Thornton                 7   

                      2  Charleston                         

                      3  Oak Lawn Richards           10   

                      4  Joliet Central                  11 

                      5  Roselle Lake Park             15   

                      6  Tremont                            16  

                      7  Gurnee Warren                  19   

                      8  Glen Ellyn Glenbard West  21   

                      9  Benton                              24 

                    10  Peoria Richwoods              29               

1992-93      State Qualifers                                   coach unknown


--Chris Prieboy (class of 1979), three-time all-state basketball player, later attended the University of St. Francis and scored 2,377 pts—best in Lady Saints’ history. Chris won 15 letters at JT Central HS in five sports (4 in basketball, 3 in softball, 4 in volleyball, 1 in tennis, 1 in track, and 2 in swimming.


--Jesse Barfield (class of 1977), drafted (1977, 9th round) & played with Toronto (1981-89), then traded to the New York Yankees (1989-92). He hit .289 with 40 HR & 108 RBI in 1986 during his best season with Toronto, along winning two Gold Gloves, and led AL outfielders in assists from 1985-87, which gave proof to having a strong and accurate arm from rightfield. Barfield was an American League All-Star in 1987, and played in what some baseball analysts consider one of the finest all-around outfields in the Major Leagues during the 1980’s with George Bell and Lloyd Moseby in Toronto. Son Josh (second baseman) played with San Diego in 2006, and another son, Jeremy, was drafted by the New York Mets in 2006 as well as the Oakland Athletics in 2008. Jesse’s Major League career totals are 241 home runs, 716 runs batted in, and a batting average of .256.


--Roger Powell (class of 1970), all-state basketball player in 1970, led the Steelmen to a third-place finish in one of the final single-class state tournaments, losing to eventual champion LaGrange Park Lyons in the semifinals. Powell was an all-tournament selection and later played his collegiate ball at Illinois State. His son Roger Junior starred at Joliet Township and at the University of Illinois where he was a member of the NCAA Division I tournament runnersup in 2005. Roger was named to the All-Time IHSA Tournament team in 2007! Check out his bio at


--Ed Woods, basketball coach 1964-68. In just four seasons, his Steelmen cagers were 67-41, but made a trip to the Elite Eight in 1965, and left the program in good hands for Dale Glenn.


--Dale Glenn, basketball coach 1968-81. Glenn picked up where Woods left off as his teams won seven regionals in eight years, had 20 wins or more in eight seasons, plus were state-ranked squads. Glenn’s Joliet Central teams were 270-96 for a winning percentage of .738 in 13 seasons, and took third in the 1970 tournament.


--Greg Peden, basketball coach 1981-93. JT Central continued their winning ways under Peden, who had six 20-win seasons and two regionals, plus a sectional and a supersectional appearance in 1989. The school had three consecutive 20-win seasons in as many years before Central & West consolidated their athletic programs.  


--Jerry Pius, baseball coach 1973-77. In five seasons, Pius’ boys of spring won 129 games against just 26 losses (an .832 winning percentage), took two regional titles and second place at the state tournament in 1975.


--Eural “Mac” McLaughlin, wrestling coach. Coach Mac got the most of the wrestlers he had and produced a team championship in 1985, along with a second in 1986, and sixth in 1976. His teams were undefeated in 1984-85 at 21-0 and went 20-2 the following season.


--Scott (class of 1976) and Mark (class of 1979) Trizzino, wrestlers. Both Trizzinos were state champions on the mat for the Steelmen, winning not once, but back-to-back state championship in their weight classes. Scott took home the gold at 132 pounds in 1975 & 1975, while Mark won the 105 pound title in 1978, following it up with the 112 championship in 1979.


--Pat O’Connell, soccer coach 1985-87. O’Connell’s teams may not have won any state tournament trophies, but they did win a fair share of their matches in his three years as skipper of the Steelmen soccer program, going 37-14 (.725 percentage) in those seasons.


--Marsha Tate, (class of 1977), track.  She was Joliet Central’s first female medalist, bringing home three in successive seasons for her work in the 440-yard dash by placing seventh, second, and third, respectively, in those seasons.


--Sharron Evans (class of 1989), track.  As the Steelwomen were placing sixth in the state AA track finals, Evans was state champion in the 100-meter hurdles, second in the 300-meter hurdles, and seventh in the long jump.


There are other notable alums from Joliet Central, To find out who they are, this link has all the details:



Then we invite you to contact us so we can possibly use the information. You can either email us at or by using the USPS at:
Illinois High School Glory Days
6439 North Neva
Chicago, IL  60631