Homer High School "Panthers"

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Homer High School
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Photo from 1941 Yearbook

Homer High School Building 2015
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Homer Water Tower 2015
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Left Click on Photo for Larger View

The History of Homer High School
 
Homer (population 1,200) is located on Il. Route 49 at County Road 1000 in far eastern Champaign County.  This paces Homer about 20 miles southeast of Urbana.  The Norfolk and Western Railroad runs through the center of town.
   
The area Homer is located in was first settled in 1830 and known as Union. The area was settled about 1 - 2 miles north of the current location of the town. Legend has it that two business owners were discussing the movement of the town of Union to bring it closer to the incoming railroad line. One gentleman stated his intentions and the other replied "That sounds like homer to me", when he likely meant "home to me." The other gentlemen replied "Then Homer it is." The name was changed to Homer and the village relocated to the current site. The town was officially recognized by the state of Illinois in 1872. 
  
According to a booklet titled "Homer, Past and Present" submitted by Roberta Van Briesen,
 a four-room brick school building was erected in Homer in 1858. A frame building was built in 1887 and housed both the grade school and high school classes through 1914. Professer Starr was the first principal. The first graduating class (three students) of Homer High School received their diplomas in 1885. In 1914 Homer High Schol District 302 was formed. It was decided to remodel the second floor of a downtown building to be used for high school classes.  A new, brick high school building was built in February of 1928.  The high school served the community and its children well for over 100 years. 
   
Talks of consolidation began with nearby Broadlands ABL in the mid-1980s.  These talks became a reality in 1988.  The high school kids of Homer were then (and still are today) sent to nearby Broadlands where the Heritage School District is based.

Homer High School Rear
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Left Click on Photo for Larger View

On a note of interest, the Homer School District was the site of the longest school strike in US history. The school strike began in September 1986 and lasted until June 1987.   
 
The Homer High School building now serves as a grade school in the Heritage district for students in grades K - 8.  The gym is very small, too small for home volleyball games, but serves the students of the grade school quite well.

Homer High School Building
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Now Heritage Grade School

Homer High School
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Old Meets New

Homer High School Quick Facts
 
Year opened:                   1880s
First graduating class:      1885
Year closed:                    1988
Consolidated to:               Heritage High School
School nickname:             the "Panthers"
School colors:                  Maroon & Gold 
School Fight Song:           Sung to "Minnesota Rouser"
                                                    Lyrics provided by PAULA BERTRAM MORRIS 
 
                                       Homer High we're rooting for you
                                       Homer Panthers Gold and the big Maroon
                                       Homer High we're rooting for you

                                       V - I - C - T - O - R - Y

                                       Victory for Homer High
                                       Fight on to Victory!
                                       Cha Hee, cha hah, cha hah hah hah
                                       Homer Panthers Rah Rah Rah!

Homer School Gymnnasium 2015
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Left Click on Photo for Larger View

Athletics
 
The Homer High School Panthers competed in basketball, football, and track for the boys and probably basketball, track, and volleyball for the girls.  It is possible other sports were offered but we will need in-put from a resident or alum to provide further information. 
 
There were some real successful seasons on the IHSA web site (www.ihsa.org) in boy's basketball.  There were also two male athletes who brought home IHSA hardware from the state meet.  Only one season is listed on the site for football, though we are confident there were many more that were quite successful.  There was no listing of athletic accomplishments for the girls teams.  If you can provide any information regarding Homer High School athletics please follow the directions at the bottom of this page.  The best seasons according to the IHSA web site are listed below.
 
Boys Basketball
 
The Homer Panthers brought home 7 District titles and 6 Regional titles during their existence.  They also enjoyed several great seasons on the hardwood. One game of note is listed on the IHSA web site.  It involves a District Tournament game played on March 6, 1930 between Georgetown and Homer.  The game is tied for the all-time lowest scoring game in IHSA history and is listed in the National Federation Record Book.  Final score:  Georgetown 1  Homer 0. On Feb. 14, 1979, Homer and Bement played in a marathon seven-overtime game in which Homer won 97-89!  Below are the more successful seasons listed at Homer High.
  
1921-22               Urbana District Tournament       Coach's name & record needed
                            1st Rd lost to Mahomet 34-8
                            Mahomet lost to Odgen in 2nd Rd
                            Ogden lost to Fisher in semi-final
                            Fisher beat Villa Grove in title game
                            Fisher lost to Atwood in Sectional
                            Atwood lost to Centralia in State Title Game
                           
1922-23 through 1931-32  Postseason scores, records, and coaches' names needed.

1932-33               Urbana District Tournament       Coach's name & record needed
                            1st Rd lost to Mansfield 18-15
                            Mansfield lost to Champaign in semi-final
                            Mahomet beat Champaign in title game
                            Mahomet lost to Harvey Thornton in Elite 8 Rd
                            Harvey Thornton beat Springfield in State Title Game
 
1933-34               Urbana District Tournament       Coach's name & record needed
                            1st Rd Beat Urbana U-High 22-13
                            Semi-final lost to Champaign 40-15
                            Champaign lost to Urbana in title game
                            Urbana lost to Moline in Elite 8 Rd
                            Moline finished 4th in State Tourney
 
1934-35               Fisher District Tournament         Coach's name & record needed
                            1st Rd Beat Urbana U-High 27-19
                            2nd Rd Beat Bellflower 32-30
                            Semi-final lost to Urbana 31-14
                            Urbana beat Fisher in title game
                            Urbana lost in Sectional
 
1935-36   11 - 11 Westville Regional Tourney       Coach Ray Litherland
                            1st Rd lost to Danville 43-12
                            Danville beat Caitlin in title game
                            Danville lost to Decatur in State Title Game                
   
1936-37   10 - 12 Postseason scores needed.       Coach Ray Litherland
   
1937-38  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
  
1938-39    18 - 6  Sidell District Tournament          Coach Ray Litherland
                            Lost to Allerton 40-37

The Homer Basketball Team of 1938-39
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With Their Great Coach R.S. Litherland

1939-40    28 - 3     IHSA District Champions       Coach Ray Litherland
                               District Scores Needed
                               Danville Regional Champions
                               Early Round Scores Needed
                               Title Game Beat Georgetown 22-18
                               Champaign Sectional Tournament
                               1st Rd lost to Urbana 35-33 (2 O/Ts)
                               Urbana lost to Champaign in semi-final
                               Champaign beat Paxton in title game
                               Champaign placed 4th in State Tournament
 
1940-41    34 - 1     IHSA District Champions       Coach Ray Litherland
                               Undefeated Regular Season!
                               District Scores Needed
                               Danville Regional Champions
                               Regional Scores Needed 
                               Champaign Sectional Tournament
                               1st Rd lost to Potomac 37-28
                               Potomac lost to Champaign in semi-final
                               Champaign lost to Urbana in title game
                               Urbana lost to Morton in State Title Game
     
1941-42    27 - 5     Danville Regional Champs     Coach Ray Litherland
                               Season Record Needed
                               Did not play in District
                               1st Rd Beat Catlin 44-31
                               Semi-final Beat Westville 32-31
                               Title Game Beat Danville 26-24
                               Casey Sectional Tournament
                               1st Rd lost to Vandalia 36-32 (O/T)
                               Vandalia lost to Paris in semi-final
                               Paris beat Mattoon in title game
                               Paris beat Moline in State Title Game!
  
1942-43        Postseason scores & record needed  Coach Ray Litherland  
1943-44        Postseason scores & record needed  Coach Ray Litherland  
 
1944-45                  Champaign Regional Tourney  Coach's name & record needed
                               Did not play in District
                               1st Rd lost to Sadorus 50-36
                               Sadorus lost to Urbana in semi-final
                               Urbana lost to Champaign in title game
                               Champaign lost to Decatur in State Title Game
 
1945-46                  Fisher Regional Tournament      Coach Ray Litherland
                               Season Record Needed
                               Did not play in District
                               1st Rd Beat Bellflower 47-39
                               Semi-final lost to Fisher 49-41
                               Fisher lost to Champaign in title game
                               Champaign beat Centralia in State Title Game!
 
1946-47    24 - 5    Champaign Regional Tourney    Coach Ray Litherland
                               Did not play in District
                               1st Rd lost to Champaign 82-22
                               Champaign beat Urbana in title game
                               Champaign lost to Paris in State Title Game
 
1947-48                  Mansfield District Runner-Up    Coach Ray Litherland
                               Season Record Needed
                               1st Rd Beat Sidney 36-29
                               Semi-final Beat Philo 33-29
                               Title Game lost to Tolono 43-20  
 
1948-49                  Longview District Champion     Coach Ray Litherland
                               Season Record Needed
                               Semi-final Beat Philo 38-26
                               Title Game Beat Sidney (?)
                               Champaign Regional Tournament
                               1st Rd Beat Urbana 46-44
                               Semi-final lost to Monticello 57-44
                               Monticello lost to Champaign in title game
                               Champaign lost in Sweet 16 Round
 
1949-50                  Danville Regional Tournament     Coach Ray Litherland
                               Season Record Needed
                               Did not play in District
                               1st Rd lost to Westville 54-44
                               Westville lost to Oakwood in semi-final
                               Oakwood lost to Danville in title game
                               Danville lost to Mt. Vernon in State Title Game
 
1950-51                  Westville Regional Tourney          Coach Ray Litherland
                               Season Record Needed
                               Did not play in District
                               1st Rd lost to Westville 58-35
                               Westville lost to Danville in title game
                               Danville won Sectional, lost in Sweet 16 Rd 

1951-52    27 - 4     Danville Regional Champs         Coach Ray Litherland
                               1st Rd Beat Catlin 52-43
                               Semi-final Beat Georgetown 57-40
                               Title Game Beat Danville 51-50
                               Champaign Sectional Tourney
                               Semi-final lost to Champaign 53-44
CHAMPAIGN (53): Leach 15, Burks 14, McKinney 9, Butts 6, Hopkins 4, Koch 3, Kellerhals 2.
HOMER (44): J. Lewis 19, B. Lewis 14, Umbarger 8, Temple 2, Dodd 1.
                                Champaign beat Bloomington in title game
                                Champaign lost to Hebron in Sweet 16 Rd
                                Hebron won IHSA State Title over Quincy
 
1952-53    14 - 12  Westville Regional Tourney        Coach John Brown
                               Did not play in District
                               1st Rd lost to Westville 71-67
                               Westville lost to Schlarman in semi-final
                               Schlarman beat Georgetown in title game
                               Schlarman won Sectional, placed 4th in IHSA Tourney
  
1953-54  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
    
1954-55                  IHSA District Champions         Coach's name & record needed
                               District Scores Needed
                               Westville Regional Tournament
                               1st Rd lost to Danville 86-55
                               Danville lost to Georgetown in title game
                               Georgetown won Sectional, lost in Sweet 16 Rd
   
1955-56                  Chrisman District Tournament    Coach's name & record needed
                               1st Rd lost to Ridge Farm 89-61
                               Ridge Farm lost to St. Joseph in title game
 
1956-57  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
 
1957-58                  Homer District Tournament         Coach's name & record needed
                               1st Rd lost to Ridge Farm 62-49
                               Ridge Farm lost to Chrisman in semi-final
                               Chrisman beat St. Joseph in title game
 
1958-59                  Broadlands District Tournament  Coach's name & record needed
                               1st Rd lost to Ogden 49-48
                               Ogden lost to Broadlands ABL in title game
 
1959-60                  Homer District Tournament         Coach's name & record needed
                               Homer scores needed
                               Catlin beat ABL in title game
 
1960-61                  Broadlands District Tournament  Coach's name & record needed
                               1st Rd lost to ABL 74-47
                               ABL lost to St. Joseph in title game
 
1961-62                  Homer District Tournament         Coach's name & record needed
                               Homer scores needed
                               ABL beat Catlin in title game
 
1962-63                  Broadlands District Tournament  Coach's name & record needed
                               1st Rd lost to ABL 58-55
                               ABL beat Ogden in title game
 
1963-64                  Homer District Tournament         Coach's name & record needed
                               Homer scores needed
                               ABL beat Ridge Farm in title game
  
1964-65                  Broadlands District Tournament  Coach's name & record needed
                               1st Rd lost to ABL 81-59
                               ABL lost to Catlin in title game
 
1965-66  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
 
1966-67                  Ridge Farm District Tourney        Coach's name & record needed
                               1st Rd lost to Ridge Farm 62-52
                               ABL beat Ridge Farm in title game
   
1967-68   16 - 11    Broadlands District Champs     Coach Bob Gilhaus
                               Semi-final Beat ABL 68-55
                               Title Game Beat Ridge Farm 54-52
                               Danville Schlarman Regional
                               1st Rd Beat Danville 58-56
                               Lost to 3rd Ranked Schlarman 83-49 in semi-final
                               Schlarman beat Oakwood in title game
                               Schlarman won Sectional, lost in Sweet 16 Rd
  
1968-69                  Homer District Tournament          Coach's name & record needed
                               1st Rd Beat Ridge Farm
                               Other scores needed
 
1969-70        8 - 17 Ridge Farm District Tourney        Coach Bob Gilhaus
                               Season Record Needed
                               Semi-final lost to ABL 65-53
                               ABL lost to Sidell Jamaica in title game 

1970-71      20 - 7  IHSA District Champions           Coach Richard Burgmeier
                              District Scores Needed
                              Danville Regional Tourney
                              1st Rd lost to Danville Schlarman 72-58
                              Danville beat St. Joe-Ogden in title game
            
1971-72      22 - 5  Broadlands Class 'A' Regional  Coach Richard Burgmeier
                              1st Rd Beat Villa Grove 64-56
                              Semi-final Beat ABL 61-60
                              Title Game lost to St. Joe-Ogden 66-58
    
1972-73      19 - 5  Little Okaw Conf. Champs          Coach Jim Skinner
                              2nd place- conf. tourney              Asst Coach Jim Trask
                              Lost to Cerro Gordo - Elite 8 finalist
                              Tolono Regional Tourney
                              1st Rd lost to Villa Grove 62-60
    
1973-74      18 - 10 IHSA Regional Champions        Coach Jim Trask
                               Jamaica Tourney 3rd Place       Asst Coach Randy Wadell
                               Little Okaw Tourney 2nd Place
                               Broadlands Regional Champs  
                               1st Rd Beat Newman 66-58
                               Semi-final Beat ABL 83-59
                               Title Game Beat Tuscola 60-58
                               Tuscola Sectional Tourney
                               Semi-final lost to Cerro Gordo 69-55
                               Cerro Gordo beat Chrisman in title game
                               Cerro Gordo lost to State Champ Lawrenceville in Elite 8 Round
     
1974-75      15 - 12 Broadlands Reg. Runner-Up      Coach Jim Trask
                               2nd Place Little Okaw Tourney   Asst Coach Randy Waddell
                               Broadlands Regional Scores
                               1st Rd Beat Normal U-High 79-36
                               Semi-final Beat St. Joe-Ogden 57-50
                               Title Game lost to Villa Grove 53-32
                               Villa Grove lost in 1st Rd of Sectional
              
1975-76      23 - 4   Tolono Regional Runner-Up      Coach Jim Trask
                                Little Okaw Tourney Champs    Asst Coach Randy Waddell
                                Little Okaw Reg Season Runner-Up (12-2)
                                Regional Scores
                                1st Rd Beat ABL 65-60
                                Semi-final Beat Tolono Unity 78-62
                                Title Game lost to St. Joe-Ogden 85-56
                                St. Joe-Ogden lost in Sectional Semi-to Monticello
  
1976-77        9 - 14 Broadlands Regional Tourney       Coach Jim Trask
                               1st Rd Beat Villa Grove 52-44
                               Semi-final lost to St.Joe-Ogden 73-60
   
1977-78        7 - 16 Postseason scores needed           Coach Jim Trask

1978-79      15 - 10 IHSA Regional Champions         Coach Jim Trask
                               Regional Scores Needed
                               Tuscola Sectional Tournament
                               Semi-final lost to Decatur St. Theresa 72-57
                               St. Theresa beat Georgetown in title game
                               St. Theresa lost in Sweet 16 Round  
   
1979-80      17 - 9   Postseason scores needed           Coach Randy Waddell
  
1980-81        1 - 21 Postseason scores needed.          Coach Mike Spezia
1981-82        7 - 16 Postseason scores needed.          Coach Bob Gilhaus
1982-83      12 - 12 Postseason scores needed.          Coach Bob Gilhaus.
1983-84      15 - 7   Postseason scores needed.          Coach Bob Gilhaus
1984-85  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1985-86  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1986-87  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1987-88  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
 
One of the all-time winningest coaches in state history, Don Kemp, started his coaching career at sometime at Homer High School. After stops at Arenzville and Concord Triopia, he had a cumulative record of 564-236. Another great coach, Don Vandersnick, had a coaching stop at Homer along with stops at Batavia, Galva, Wheaton and Lincoln and had a record of 363-203.
 
*Greg Bange - Great player named to the 1980 Decatur Herald & Review All-Area team with a 24.3 points per game average. Greg is also still listed (2015) on the IHSA website as having the 19th highest scoring average for a career at 21.3 points in 71 games!

Basketball Coaches of Homer High School (1968 - 1980)

Bob Gilhaus- 1968 (15-11), 1969 (15-12), 1970 (8-17)- Total (38-40)
(2) District Titles and (1) Regional win against Danville (1968)
(2) Runner-up finishes in Champaign County Tournament (Losing to Unity in 1968, 1969)

Richard Bergmeier- 1971 (20-7), 1972 (22-5)- Total 42-10
2nd Place Fisher Tournament 1971
2nd Place County Tournament (lost to St. Joe- Last Champaign County Tournament) 1971
ECC League Co-Champs (w/ St. Joe) at 8-1 (1971)
Broadlands District Champs 1971
Consolation Champs at Charleston Holiday Tourney 1972
1st Little Okaw regular Season Champs (13-1) 1972
1st Little Okaw Conference Tournament Champs 1972 (Beating Cerro Gordo 72-69 in OT) 1972 
Regional Runner up 1972 (Losing to St Joe 66-58) 1972

Jim Skinner- 1973 (19-5)
Little Okaw Regular Season Champs (13-1; beating out 2nd ranked Elite 8 Cerro Gordo 12-2)
Little Okaw Conference Tournament 2nd Place (Losing to 2nd ranked Elite 8 Cerro Gordo 64-60 OT)
One of (3) teams to beat 2nd ranked Cerro Gordo (IHSA Class A Champion Lawrenceville & Oakland were the other two)

Jim Trask- 1974 (18-10), 1975 (15-12), 1976 (23-4), 1977 (9-14), 1978 (7-16), 1979 (15-10)- Total (87-66)
Regional Champs 1974, 1979, Regional Runner-ups, 1975, 1976
Little Okaw Tournament Champs 1976, Runner ups in 1974, 1975
3rd Place Jamaica Tourney 1974, Jamaica Consolation Tourney Champs 1975, 1976

Randy Waddell- 1980 (17-9)
2nd Place Little Okaw regular season (10-4)
2nd Place Little Okaw Tournament (losing to Cerro Gordo)
3rd Place Jamaica Tournament

 
Boys Track & Field
 
Two individuals from the Homer High School Panther track teams brought back a total of 5 medals from the State Track Meet.  There accomplishments are listed below.
 
1970-71     Bill Edwards           Discus                               4th Place
1971-72     Bill Edwards           Discus                               3rd Place
1974-75     Eric Miller               330 Yard Low Hurdles      8th Place
1975-76     Eric Miller               120 Yard High Hurdles      3rd Place
                 Eric Miller               330 Yard Low Hurdles      4th Place

Homer Football Field Goal Post
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Field Now Used for Soccer

Football
 
The only listing on the IHSA web site for Homer High School Panther football is for the 1985-86 school year when the team finished with a 2 - 6 record. The Homer Football Field goal post is pictured above.  The field is now used for soccer.
 
We do have two of the better records of the Homer football program.  They are listed below.  The team of 1882-83 missed the IHSA Class 1A Playoffs by one victory.  More records were researched and supplied by Tom Sikorski.
 
1952  8-1      2nd place Illini Valley Conference                 Coach John Brown
1954  3-2                                                                       Coach John Brown
1956  4-3                                                                       Coach John Brown
1961  5-3-1                                                                    Coach Mel Root
1962  4-4-1                                                                    Coach Mel Root
1963  7-1       2nd place East Central Conference              Coach Mel Root
1964  4-3-1   3rd place East Central Conference                Coach  Bob Nabor
1966  5-3       3rd place East Central Conference               Coach Bruce Miller
1967  6-2       3rd place East Central Conference               Coach Bruce Miller
1968  7-0       East Central Conference Champs             Coach Bruce Miller
1969  5-3-1   2nd place East Central Conference                Coach Bruce Miller
1970  6-2       3rd place East Central Conference               Coach  Bruce Miller
1973  5-4       3rd place  Little Okaw Valley Conference      Coach  Bruce Miller
1975  7-2       3rd place (tie) Little Okaw Valley Conference Coach Bruce Miller
1976  3-6                                                                        Coach Bruce Miller
1979  5-4                                                                        Coach Bruce Miller
1980  4-3        (JV squad only)                                          Coach Dale Diskin
1982  6-2        3rd place East Okaw Conference                 Coach Dale Diskin
 
Homer last fielded a football team in 1986.
 
Girls Athletics
 
There are no listings for the Homer High School Lady Panther athletes on the IHSA web site.  We are hopeful this information will be shared with us by a Homer area person with knowledge of the program.
 
Memories
 
Mary M. (Howard) Ellis attended Homer High School her freshman and sophomore years with her furture husband, Charles D. Ellis (Class of 1939).
During the 1938-39 school year at Homer the following "quick facts" were available:
 
School Principal:          I.M. Wrigley
School Coach:             Ray E. Litherland 
School yearbook:         The Homerian
School newspaper:       The Tatler
Junior Class Play:        "Through the Keyhole"
Senior Class Play:       "Tons of Money"
 
Memories and information from Paula Bertram Morris:
 
"One of my favorite memories is of the 1968 basketball game when HHS played Danville High School in the first game on the regional state basketball tournament and it went to the 3 OT's!  The gym was noisy that you could literally not hear.  Several of us fans just looked at each other the moment we realized that we could not hear a sound!  The team consisted of great players-Wes King, Jim Knight, Kent Krukewitt, Ray Compton, and Steve Doak to name just a few (but back then there were not many more!).
 
In 1968 our faculty members included:
Principal Mr Gilpin, Mrs Brown-French and English, Mrs. Marrs-Home Ec, Mrs. Kerr-Business courses, MIss Hocker-Geometry and the Librarian for both grade school and high school and our beloved Class Sponsor, Mr. Gillette-Math, Mr. Shaw-Chemistry and Physics, Mrs. Douglas-History, Mr. Wis-Band, Mr Gilhaus-Driver Education."
 
Seeking Your Assistance
 
If you would like to share information with us regarding Homer and its former High School please complete a School Submission Form or a Guest Commentary Form.  We are especially interested in photos of the old school and athletic system.  You can e-mail us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net or write us at:
 
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago,  Il.    60631

Homer School Bus Garage
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Homer High School
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December, 2005