(Buda) Western High School "Rams"

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Western High School
Buda, Illinois

The History of the Western High School Rams
Buda is located in Bureau County, 15 miles southwest of Princeton along Illinois State Route 40 and the Burlington Northern-Sante Fe line from Chicago to Los Angeles. It's population is around 600, despite being considered as a "ghost town" of Illinois.

Western High School was a result of a name change from Buda High School in 1961, when the Sheffield school district was consolidated with the Buda school district. The "Western" part of the name comes from being the western-most school in Bureau County.

Western High School lasted from 1961 to 1995. Western, Wyanet, Walnut, and Manlius high schools came together to form the Bureau Valley School District. The former Western High School facility was used as Bureau Valley High School from 1995 - 1997 while the new Bureau Valley High School facility in Manlius was under construction. The following information was sent to us by Jeff McCoy as found on the Bureau Valley High School Wikipedia page:

"In 1995, at the now Bureau Valley South (temporary BVHS campus), the name of the new school district was announced to the high school and communities. After a long, drawn-out light and fog show with the first track from Ridin' the Storm Out playing in the background, a sign revealing the name to be "Bureau Valley High School" was accepted positively by attendees.

From 1995 to 1997, Bureau Valley students attended school at the former Western High School. Three graduating classes studied in this building, which is now Bureau Valley South Elementary."

Thank you to Ben Atkinson for providing this information.
The Buda Western High School buildings were utilized as a grade school for the Bureau Valley School District through the 2016-17 school year. It was in July of 2017 that the buildings, having been deemed unsafe, were torn down. The following is a link to an article in the Bureau County Republican newspaper which documents this sad event.

Western High School "Quick Facts":

Year opened: 1961
Year closed: 1995
Building used for now: Middle School through 2017, has been razed. 
Mascot: Rams
School colors: Black & White
School Fight Song: "Hey Look Us Over"
Conferences: Indian Valley (1977-1995), Blackhawk

Western High School Football Field
School Buildings in Background

The Western Rams competed in the Blackhawk and Indian Valley conferences. For more information on the Blackhawk Conference check out John Ballentine's article on the GREAT CONFERENCES page of this site.
Western High School offered a variety of athletics. Football, basketball, track volleyball, and golf were all offered at one time. Successes were reached on the conference and state contest levels in each sport. The most notable of these successes which we have researched thus far are listed below.
The most successful athletic program on a team level was the Boys Basketball program. Coach "Chips" Giovanne came over from Bureau Twp. in 1961 and led the Rams to a District Championship in 1968 (21-7) and back-to-back Class A State Tourney appearances in 1975 and 1976:
1975 - Finished 29-1 overall with an undefeated regular season and defeated (now AA) Lemont in the Streator Super-Sectional.  The Rams lost to eventual third placer finishers Watseka in the opening round of the tournament in Champaign. Bob Sprowls was named to the All-Tournament team with 44 points in the two tournament games. Western was ranked 4th in the Associated Press final polls.
1976 - Finished 31-2 overall with an undefeated regular season and defeated Palos Heights Chicago Christian in the Pontiac Super-Sectional and defeated Havana in the first round of the Elite '8' tournament, 64-54 behind a 24-point effort from Ron "Stick" Happach. They fell to eventual state champions Mt. Pulaski in the semi-finals and fell to Lawrenceville, 65-57 in the third place game.
Overall, the two basketball teams combined for a 49-2 record with a 50+ regular season winning streak spanning between 1974 and 1976.
Brad Bickett, former Ohio High School standout basketball player, took over the program in 1991 and took home Regional championships in 1991, 1992 and 1995. In 1992, the Rams had a record of 19-8. After coaching several seasons at Bureau Valley High School and leading that school to three third place finishes in the IHSA Class A Tourney, Bickett left BVHS and currently coaches for Rock Falls High School.
Here are the season records of the Western High School boys basketball program as listed on the IHSA website. Other IHSA scores were locateed on a website titled "Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores".
1961-62   16 - 9   Annawan District Tourney Runner-up    Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
                          Semi-final Beat Atkinson 60-47
                          Title game Lost to Annawan 59-44
1962-63   18 - 8   Buda District Tourney Runner-up          Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
                          Semi-final Beat LaFayette
                          Title game Lost to Annawan 49-45
1963-64   19 - 6   District scores unavailable                   Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
1964-65   16 - 9   District scores unavailable                   Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
1965-66   11 - 12 District scores unavailable                   Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
1966-67   12 - 13 District scores unavailable                   Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
1967-68   21 - 7   Bradford District Champions            Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
                          1st Rd Beat Sparland 83-47
                          Semi-final Beat Wyanet 53-49 (O/T)
                          Title Game Beat Neponset 64-53
                          Kewanee Regional Tourney
                          1st Rd Lost to Princeville 77-64
                          Princeville lost in semi-final round
1968-69   18 - 8   District scores unavailable                   Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
1969-70   16 - 10 District scores unavailable                   Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
1970-71   10 - 16 Neponset District Tourney Runner-up   Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
                          1st Rd Beat Wyanet 75-60
                          Semi-final Beat Atkinson 77-68
                          Title Game Lost to Annawan 79-62
1971-72   16 - 10  New Bedford Regional Tourney            Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
                           (1st Year of Two-Class Tourney)
                           1st Rd Beat Wyanet 86-69
                           Semi-final Lost to Putnam County 95-76
1972-73   16 - 9    Regional scores unavailable                Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
1973-74   18 - 9    Regional scores unavailable                Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
1974-75   29 - 1        ELITE 8 FINALIST!!                       Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
                              Blackhawk Conf. Champions
                              Regional Champions
                              Regional scores unavailable
                              Sectional Champions
                              Beat Princeville 84-59
                              Beat Toluca 51-50
                              Super-Sectional Champions
                              Beat Lemont 51 - 46
                              Elite 8 Finalist
                              Lost to Watseka 63 - 57
                              Watseka placed 3rd

Buda Western HS Rams 1974-75 Elite 8 Finalists
Submitted by Justin Kossak

Western HS Basketball Summary 1974-75
Submitted by Justin Kossak

Buda Western HS Basketball Roster 1974-75
Submitted by Justin Kossak

IHSA 1974-75 Sweet 16 TOurney Bracket
Submitted by Justin Kossak

IHSA Statre Finals Program Cover 1974-75
Submitted by Justin Kossak

1975-76   31 - 2      IHSA CLASS 'A' FOURTH PLACE!!  Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
                              Undefeated Regular Season
                              31 - 0 going into semi-final
                              Blackhawk Conf. Champions
                              Regional Champions
                              Beat Tiskilwa 85-47
                              Beat DePue 73-49
                              Beat Peru St. Bede 60-53
                              Sectional Champions
                              Beat Ottawa Marquette 60-53
                              Beat Roanoke-Benson 62-61 
                              Super-Sectional Champions
                              Beat Chicago Christian 48 - 46
                              Elite 8 Finalist
                              Beat Havana 64 - 54
                              Final 4 Finalist
                              Lost to Mt. Pulaski 74 - 56
                              Mt. Pulaski eventual State Champs
                              Third Place Game Finalist 
                              Lost to Lawrenceville 65 - 57

Western Rams - 1976 IHSA Class 'A' Tourney Program
Submitted by Jim Kouzmanoff

WHS Cheerleaders/Info - 1976 Tourney Program
Submitted by Jim Kouzmanoff

1976-77   26 - 3       Regional Champions                    Coach Gerald "Chips" Giovanine
                              Regional scores unavailable
                              Spring Valley Sectional
                              Beat Ottawa Marquette 63-60
                              Title game Lost to Roanoke-Benson 67-64
1977-78      11 - 8   Regional scores unavailable              Coach Dick Stoltz
1978-79        9 - 13 Regional scores unavailable              Coach Dick Stoltz
1979-80        5 - 17                                                            Coach Doug Whisker
1980-81      11 - 4   Regional scores unavailable              Coach Doug Whisker
1981-82      21 - 5     (Nice Record!)                                  Coach Doug Whisker
                                Regional scores unavailable
1982-83        8 - 13 Regional scores unavailable              Coach Doug Whisker
1983-84      10 - 15 Regional scores unavailable              Coach Doug Whisker 
1984-85    15 - 12  Regional scores unavailable                Coach Craig Watson
1985-86    19 - 9    Regional scores unavailable                Coach Craig Watson
1986-87   10 - 14 ;   Regional Scores & Record Needed     Coach Jerry Dobbs
1987-88                 Regional Scores & Record Needed     Coach Steve Kirby
1988-89    13 - 15 Regional Champions                          Coach Steve Kirby
                             Regional scores unavailable
                             Sectional scores unavailable
                             6th Seed at Regional!
1989-90   12 - 16    Regional scores unavailable                   Coach Steve Kirby

1990-91   15 - 11   Regional Champions                       Coach Brad Bickett
                           Regional/Sectional scores unavailable

1991-92   19 - 8     Regional Champions                       Coach Brad Bickett

1992-93     9 - 17   Regional scores unavailable                Coach Brad Bickett
1993-94   11 - 13   Regional scores unavailable                Coach Brad Bickett

1994-95   15 - 10   Regional Champions                       Coach Brad Bickett 


The Rams football program qualified for the IHSA playoffs four times. In 1976, 1979 and 1992, they finished 8-2. In 1977, they had an undefeated regular season at 9-0 before losing in the playoffs in the first round under coach Rich Corpus.

In 1973, the Rams were led by a quarterback named Mark Marquis. His 482 passing yards against Elmwood ranks 10th all-time for most in a game in Illinois; just 8 shy from 9th place, which is owned by long-time University of Illinois quarterback, Jon Beutjer. Marquis had six touchdown passses (6th all-time in Illinois) and was 16-32 from behind the line of scrimmage.

Some records from the 1960s involving Buda Western's football program are provided below by Tom Sikorski. Most of the information for this section was provided by Mike Spratt.

1961  5-2  2nd place Little 8 Conference              Coach Ron Hewitt
1962  7-0-1  Little 8 Conference Champs         Coach Ron Hewitt
1963  6-3  3rd place Little 8 conference               Coach Ron Hewitt
1964  5-4  3rd place Little 8 conference               Coach Ron Hewitt
1965  3-5-1                                                       Coach Harry Lehning
                Team of 1965 featured All-State
                 Linebacker Dan Tumbleson
1966: 3-5                                                          Coach Harry Lehning
1967  5-3  2nd place Little 8 conference          Coach Joe Colmone
1968: 4-5                                                          Coach Joe Colmone
1969  1-7-1                                                       Coach Joe Colmone 
1970  0-9                                                          Coach Joe Colmone
1971: 2-7                                                          Coach Rich Corpus
1972  4-5                                                          Coach Rich Corpus
1973  4-5                                                          Coach Rich Corpus
1974  7-1-1 2nd place Blackhawk conf            Coach Rich Corpus
1975  7-2    2nd place Blackhawk conf            Coach Rich Corpus
1976  8-2  IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier       Coach Rich Corpus 
                 Indian Valley Conf Champs
                 IHSA Playoffs 1st Round
                 Lost to Chenoa
1977  9-1  IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier       Coach Rich Corpus 
                 Indian Valley Conf Champs
                 IHSA Playoffs 1st Round
                 Lost to Monmouth Yorkwood 6 - 0 (2 O/Ts)
                 Chenoa lost in 2nd Round.
1978  7-2                                                          Coach Rich Corpus
1979  8-2  IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier       Coach Jim Hewitt 
                 Indian Valley Conf Champs
                 IHSA Playoffs 1st Round 
                 Lost to Milledgeville  24 - 8
                 Millidgeville lost in 2nd Round
1980: 6-3                                                         Coach Jim Hewitt
1981: 6-3                                                         Coach Jim Hewitt
1982: 4-5                                                         Coach Jim Hewitt
1983  5-4                                                         Coach Jim Hewitt
1984: 4-5                                                         Coach Jim Hewitt
1985  2-7                                                         Coach Jim Hewitt
1986  6-3                                                         Coach Jerry Dobbs
1987: 4-5                                                         Coaches Chris Edmonds/Terry Gutshall
1988  3-6   Last Independant Football Season     Coach Terry Gutshall
              Western-Wyanet Football Coop Teams
1989  3-6                                                         Coach Bill Estes 
1990: 3-6                                                         Coach Terry Gutshall
          Western-Wyanet-DePue (W-D-W) Coop Teams
1991: 5-4                                                         Coach Terry Gutshall
1992  6-4  IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier       Coach Terry Gutshall
                 IHSA Playoffs 1st Round   
                 Lost to Wethersfield 14 - 8
                 Wethersfield Lost in Semi-Finals
                 (Beat #6 ranked Annawan HS 42-8 in the
                 seventh game of the regular season!) 
1993: 2-7                                                         Coach Terry Gutshall
1994: 3-6                                                         Coach Paul Blandford  
This (1994) was the last football season fielded by Buda-Western HS players. Western became part of the Bureau Valley School District in the fall of 1995.
*Overall Football Record in 34 seasons at Buda-Sheffield Western High School:  157-144-4

Girls Basketball was offered at Western, and the Lady Rams won a regional championship in 1979 with an undefeated 14-0 season and finished the season at 16-1 under coach Deb Stetson. In 1988, they finished a gratifying 21-2 under coach Charlie Yelm.

1977-78     6 - 3     First Season                      Coach Deb Stetson

1978-79   16 - 1     Regional Champions      Coach Deb Stetson

1979-80:    7 - 8                                               Coach Mike Taukus

1980-81:    8 - 7                                               Coach Mike Taukus
1981-82:    4 - 10                                             Coach Pat Corwin
1982-83:    5 - 10                                             Coach Pat Corwin
1983-84:    6 - 12                                             Coach Charlie Yelm
1984-85:    8 - 11                                             Coach Charlie Yelm
1985-86:  10 - 11                                             Coach Charlie Yelm
1986-87:  13 - 9                                               Coach Charlie Yelm

1987-88   21 - 2                                               Coach Charlie Yelm

1988-89   23 - 1  Undefeated Reg. Season   Coach Charlie Yelm

                           Lost to State Ranked

                           Neponset in Regional

1989-90   17 - 5                                               Coach Charlie Yelm

1990-91    (information needed)

1991-92                                                           Coach Hepner

1992-93   11 - 9                                               Coach Charlie Yelm

1994-95                                                           Coach Paul Blanford


The Lady Ram Volleyball team was very successful in their early days. They won three regionals (1975, 1977, 1981) in which 1975 was the first year volleyball was offered at Western. Also in 1977, they won a sectional championship.

1974-75    7 - 1   First Season                                        Coaches Tocha / Goble

1975-76  11 - 2   Regional Champions                        Coaches Tocha / Goble

1976-77  14 - 2   Regional & Sectional Champions!! Coaches Tocha / Goble

                            (Sweet 16 Finalist!!)

1977-78  15 - 2   District & Sectional Champions!!     Coaches Tocha / Goble

                            Sectional - Beat Lanark & Pecatonica

                            Super-Sectional - lost to East Dubuque

1978-79   17 - 2                                                                Coach Goble

1979-80   12 - 1 - 1                                                           Coach Goble

1980-81   10 - 4                                                                Coach Pat Hebel (Corwin)

1981-82   15 - 4    Regional Champions                        Coach Pat Corwin

                              Indian Valley Conf Champs 11-0

1982-83     8 - 7                                                                 Coach Pat Corwin

1983-84     7 - 6                                                                 Coach Pat Corwin

1984-85     1 - 13                                                               Coach Pat Corwin

1985-86   10 - 9                                                                 Coach Pat Corwin

1986-87   Record Needed                                                 Coach Pat Corwin

1987-88   Record Needed                                                 Coach Pat Corwin

1988-89   17 - 4                                                                 Coach Pat Corwin

1989-90     9 - 10                                                               Coach Pat Corwin

1990-91   Record Needed                                                 Coach Pat Corwin

1991-92    9 - 14                                                                Coach Pat Corwin

1992-93  13 - 11                                                                Coach Pat Corwin

1993-94  15 - 6    2nd Place Indian Valley Conf. (8-2)      Coach Pat Corwin

1994-95   Record Needed                                                 Coach Pat Corwin


In 1980, the Lady Ram Girls Track program had a very successful season. They finished in fifth place at the state tournament and also had a win over future Indian Valley Girls Track powers, Tampico.  The 1979-80 girl's finished in 5th place at the State Track Meet.

Western has had 8 state medalists in it's history:

1979 - - Sheila Foster [5th] (200 low-hurdles)

1980 - - Rhonda Gingrich [6th] (3200-meter run)

1980 - - Sheila Foster [2nd] (100 low-hurdles)

1980 - - Sheila Foster [2nd] (200 low-hurdles)

1980 - - Sheila Foster [8th] (long jump)

            1979-80 Class A State Meet Final Team Standings

             1  Mahomet (M.-Seymour)                36   
             2  Chicago (University)                      35  
             3  New Lenox (Providence Catholic)   23  
             4  Watseka                                      22   
             5  Buda (Western)                           20  
             6  Greenville                                     18   
             6  Elmhurst (Immaculate Concepti      18  
             6  Peoria (Bergan)                             18  
             9  Monticello                                     17  
           10  Freeburg                                       16  

1982 - - Kris Kaufman [7th] (100-meter dash)

1982 - - Kris Kaufman [8th] (200-meter dash)

1982 - - Kris Kaufman [3rd] (long jump)

1993 - - Veronica Miller [6th - 400-meter dash)

1993 - - 3200-meter relay team [6th]

1995 - - Veronica Miller (7th - 400 Meter Dash)

1995 - - 800 meter-medly relay - 7th

Lonnie Hewitt on the Podium - State Champ 1979
From left toright: Larry Harpman, Jim Moore, LONNIE HEWITT, Eric Foster


The Western Rams won some medals in track & field as well.  The most impressive is that of the accomplishements of Lonnie Hewitt.  Between 1976 (his freshman year) and 1979 Lonnie won an incredible three gold medals in the high jump (sophomore, junior, and senior years).  He also placed 6th in the high jump his freshman year and gained an 8th place finish in the 440 yard dash his senior year. Great job Lonnie Hewitt!!

David Hartz  and Dennis VanderMeersch each brought home two medals from the IHSA State Track Meet as did two relay teams from the 1982 season..

1975     David Hartz          Long Jump          7TH Place

1976     David Hartz          Long Jump          5TH Place

            Lonnie Hewitt      High Jump            6TH Place

            Relay Team         880 Relay             6TH Place

            Team Won Blackhawk Conf. Championship

1977     Lonnie Hewitt                 High Jump           STATE CHAMPION!!
1978     Lonnie Hewitt                 High Jump            STATE CHAMPION!!
1979     Lonnie Hewitt                 High Jump            STATE CHAMPION!!
                                                   440 Yard Dash        8TH Place
1980     Dennis VanderMeersch   300 M Hurdles        2ND Place
                                                    100 M Dash            3RD Place
1982      Relay Team                     4 X 100                  6TH Place
                                                     4 X 200                  6Th Place
**Corey Waldinger (Class of 1986)
Corey Waldinger, a Buda native and 1986 graduate of Western High, was named Oustanding Young Alum of the College of ACES (Agriculture, consumer and environmental sciences) in October 2005.  He is the President of the Chicago Agricultural Economists Club, and currently an executive director at Rabobank International, Chicago. According to a report published in the Stark County News, (24 November, 2005) Waldinger remains involved in outside activities, including coaching his son's baseball and soccer teams.
**Lonnie Hewitt (Class of 1979)
Lonnie continued his incredible track career graduating from Augustana College with a degree in Accounting. Lonnie was a two-time All-American there, and was a main cog on the Augie thinclad team which in 1981 placed second in the National meet. Hewitt was named Augie's track team captain his senior year.
Lonnie went on to become a well known football and basketball referee in the northern part of Illinois. His skills were so noted that he was selected to work the IHSA Girls Basketball State Tournament on three seperate occasions!" 
**From Larry Jontz:
"I love reading through your Glory Days website and reminiscing about the old schools and the old days.  I really miss those good old days and the small schools.  I was in heaven during state tournament time.  I now live in Missouri and tell people there is nothing like Illinois during basketball season. Annawan and Tiskilwa were our two toughest rivals and gave us the most trouble although Neponset was the most fun to beat in basketball because we despised each other so much.  They upset our Little 8 Conference regular season championship team in the 1964 District Championship game on our home court by 20 points and a most bitter rivalry was born. Keep up the great work. I love reading about all the schools."
**From Mike Spratt (Class of 1992):
"In 1992 our team was coached by Terry Gutshall and we made the playoffs...that is correct, but it says that we were 8-2...that is not correct.  Actually, we were 6-3 going into the playoffs, and lost to Wethersfield to end our season at 6-4.  I have also seen this error on the IHSA page.  1992 was my junior year, I was from Sheffield, and I played halfback and defensive back on that team.  A highlight from that season was when we beat an undefeated Annawan team that was 6-0 and ranked 6th in the state at that time.  We were 4-2, and it was the journal star game of the week.  We were the underdog, and not picked to win or even compete.  We went to Annawan and hung it on them 42-8!!!  One of the biggest upsets in our school history.  That win thrusted us into the playoffs for the first time in years.  Our 3 loses going into the playoffs that year were Port Byron Riverdale (16-18), Princeville (16-18), and Manlius/Tampico (7-22).  We played the playoff game against Kewanee Wethersfield at home in the snow."
If you have any further information regarding the history of Western High School please write to us via e-mail at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net .  You can also write to us via real mail at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva Ave.
Chicago, Il.  60631

Buda Western High School
Gymnasium in the Background

Western Football Field
Goal Post in Foreground