Argenta High School “Hawks” (through 1945) “Bombers” (through 1966)

Argenta-Oreana High School
Former Argenta High School Building?

The History of Argenta High School

Argenta (population 921) is located in east-central Illinois in the northwestern portion of Macon County.  Argenta sits about six miles northeast of Decatur. Illinois Route 48 is the main roadway leading to and from Argenta. Interstate Highway 72 runs to the southeast of town. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad runs alongside Route 48 while the Kickapoo Creek flows around the northside of Argenta.

The history of the town of Argenta and its school system are in need of research;.  It is probable that a school system was in place for Argenta students by the late 1800s.  A high school was certainly in place by the early 1900s.  Argenta High School served the town and surrounding rural kids for over six decades.  Consolidation talks arose in the mid-1960s between the school districts of Argenta and the nearby town of Oreana.  This effort led to the creation of the Argenta-Oreana School District in 1966.

The high school for the new district is still located today in Argenta.  It was for many years held in the original Argenta High School building which is pictured above, with a few building additions.  Recently the Argenta-Oreana School District completed a new building for $15 million that will serve the two towns and surrounding area for many years to come.

Argenta High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                               late 1800s / early 1900s

Year consolidated with Oreana:  1966

Consolidated to:                          Argenta-Oreana School District

Argenta HS team nickname:       “Hawks” from 1914-15 through 1944-45

“Bombers” from 1945-46 through 1965-66

Argenta HS team colors:             Orange & Blue

School Fight Song:                      unavailable

Argenta “Hawks” Sports Jacket
Submitted by Clay Haurberg


Argenta High School offered boys basketball ( and probably baseball, track, and football as well.  Team nickname, team colors, team records, coach’s names, and school fight song are all items we are seeking to help better document the Argenta HS athletic program.

Boys Basketball

Argenta High School was a cause for great excitement on many a winter night.  The boys basketball team had some great seasons in the 1950s and early 1960s.  A total of SEVEN District titles and one Regional title showed the Argenta HS strengths of the era.  The year of 1950-51 saw Argenta’s deepest run into the State Tourney making it all the way to Sectional Tournament action.  Coach’s names and team records of these and other great Argenta teams are not currently available. Scores involving Argenta HS in the IHSA State Tournament were located on a website titled “Illinois High School Postseason Basketball Scores” and are listed below.

Argenta-Oreana Coach Clay Haurberg provided the following research and excellent information regarding the Argenta High School basketball program:


1914-15 was the first year that Argenta had a basketball team (see attached clipping from 9/16/1914)..

Argenta Organizes Basketball Team 09/16/2014
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

Regarding the school mascot:

The Argenta HS teams were known as the “Hawks” until the end of the 1944-45 school year, when they changed their mascot to the “Bombers”, an homage to US Army Air Force from WWII. (See attached photo of a Argenta Hawks jacket)

Some unusual history:

The attached article from 12/23/1925 says that Argenta played all its games outdoors that season until the weather became too cold, then spent the rest of the year playing on the road; however, I have found older clippings about games played in Argenta during the winter months. Perhaps there were times that they were able to rent a space in town in which to play their games?”

Argenta Plays Outdoors Article 12/23/1925
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

It seems that Argenta HS had no gym for practice or games in their early years. They handled this by holding practices and games outdoors, starting as early as September, until a new high school was built in 1928 with it’s own gym (see attached clipping from 10/24/1928).

Argenta Opens New Gym 10/24/1928
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

1914-15    0 – 3                                                              Coach unknown 

1915-16    4 – 3                                                              Coach Fred Zeise 

1916-17    0 – 3                                                              Coach unknown 

1917-18    1 – 4                                                              Coach R.L. Reeves 

1918-19    1 – 5                                                              Coach E.W. Zeppenfeld

1919-20    1 – 1                                                              Coach E.W. Zeppenfeld

1920-21    0 – 3                                                              Coach E.W. Zeppenfeld

1921-22  15 – 11        Decatur District Tournament       Coach E.W. Zeppenfeld

1st Rd lost to Dawson 15-12

Atwood beat Bethany in title game

Atwood lost to Centralia 24-16 in State Championship Game

1922-23    5 – 7                                                              Coach E.W. Zeppenfeld

1923-24    3 – 7         Decatur District Tourney              Coach E.W. Zeppenfield

1st Rd lost to Bethany 19-13

1924-25    0 – 3         Decatur District Tourney              Coach E.W. Zeppenfield

1st Rd lost to Maroa 21-11

1925-26  10 – 5         Decatur District Tourney              Coach Otis F. “Nemo” Madden

1st Rd lost to Mansfield 19-15

1926-27  11 – 5         Decatur District Tourney              Coach Otis F. “Nemo” Madden

    1st Rd Beat Stonington 21-18

2nd Rd lost to Bethany 28-23

1927-28  15 – 7         Decatur District Tourney              Coach R.P. Houk

                                 Macon County Tourney Champs

                                 District Scores

1st Rd Beat Macon 49-21

2nd Rd lost to Latham 33-23

1928-29  17 – 4         Decatur District Tourney              Coach Otis F. “Nemo” Madden

                                 Macon County Tourney Champs

                                 District Scores

    1st Rd lost to Decatur 34-16

1929-30  17 – 9         Monticello District Tourney          Coach Jimmy Cagle

                                 Macon County Tourney Champs

                                 District Scores

    1st Rd Beat Cerro Gordo 18-13

2nd Rd lost to Champaign 37-12

1930-31  21 – 9         Monticello District Tourney          Coach Jimmy Cagle

                                 Macon County Tourney Champs

                                 District Scores

    1st Rd lost to Monticello 30-20

1931-32    4 – 16       Monticello District Tourney          Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

                                 District Scores

    1st Rd lost to Bement 33-8

1932-33   17 – 5       Monticello District Tournament      Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

Cenois Conference Champs

                                District Scores

1st Rd lost to Monticello 21-17

Monticello beat Cerro Gordo in title game

1933-34   15 – 6       Monticello District Tournament      Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

Macon County Tourney Champs

                                 District Scores

1st Rd lost to Bement 20-19

Mahomet beat Bement in title game

1934-35   11 – 14     Decatur District Tournament          Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

1st Rd lost to Decatur 31-4

Clinton beat Decatur in title game

1935-36     5 – 16     Monticello District Tournament       Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

1st Rd lost to Lovoington 24-23

Lovington beat Bement in title game

1936-37   16 – 8       Clinton Regional Tournament         Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

    Macon County Tourney Champs

District Scores

1st Rd Beat Niantic 30-20

2nd Rd lost to Clinton 24-10

Decatur beat Clinton in title game

1937-38   14 – 9       Niantic District Tourney                   Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

         1st Rd Beat Mt. Zion 27-25 (OT)

2nd Rd lost to Tri-City 24-19

1938-39   22 – 10     IHSA District Champions              Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

Argenta HS Basketball Team 1938-39
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

                                District Scores Needed 

                                Decatur Regional Runner-Up

                                1st Rd Beat Bement 29-25

                                Semi-final Beat Cerro Gordo 29-20

                                Title Game lost to Decatur 35-24

Per IHSA rules of the time, both the Regional champion and Regional runner-up advanced to Sectional play. Argenta made the most of this opportunity by making it to the sectional final, which at the time was one game from making the state finals. Here are the scores:

Champaign Sectional Tournament

Semi-Final Beat Paxton 38-25

Title Game lost to Champaign 43-29

Champaign lost in Elite 8 round.

1939-40   18 – 5       Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

Macon County Champs

Cenois Conference Champs

           Regional Scores

                                 1st Rd lost to Kenny 29-28

Clinton beat Wapella in title game

1940-41   14 – 11      Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

1st Rd Beat Wapella 35-24

2nd Rd lost to Bloomington 31-18

Clinton beat Bloomington in title game


1941-42   17 – 8        Wapella District Tournament           Coach Vernon Drenckpohl

1st Rd Beat Waynesville 47-18

2nd Rd lost to Argenta 33-28

1942-43   23 – 7        Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach Ed Mosely

            1st Rd lost to Bloomington Trinity 40-33

Bloomington HS beat Clinton in title game

1943-44   24 – 5        Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach Ed Mosely

Cenois Conference Champs

Regional Scores

1st Rd Beat Maroa 53-17

2nd Rd lost to Clinton 45-27

Clinton beat Bloomington in title game

1944-45   16 – 10      Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach Tracey Turner

           1st Rd lost to Bloomington 54-37

Bloomington HS beat Clinton in title game

1945-46   24 – 4        Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach James “Red” Hildebrand

                                 Cenois Conference Champs

                                 Regional Score

           1st Rd lost to Deland 61-45

Clinton beat Deland in title game

1946-47   11 – 13      Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach James “Red” Hildebrand

 1st Rd lost to Bloomington 51-21

Clinton beat Bloomington in title game

1947-48   13 – 12      Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach James “Red” Hildebrand

                                  Macon County Champs

Regional Scores

            1st Rd lost to Bloomington 49-37

Clinton beat Bloomington in title game

1948-49   12 – 11      Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach Don Sullivan

           1st Rd lost to Bloomington 49-36

Clinton beat Bloomington in title game

1949-50   12 – 12      Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach Don Sullivan

           1st Rd lost to Bloomington 65-51

Clinton beat Farmer City in title game

1950-51   20 – 11      Waynesville District Champions  Coach Don Sullivan

Macon County Tourney Champs

                                 Clinton Regional Champions

                                 Decatur Sectional Runner-Up

Argenta Basketball Team 1950-51
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

                                 District Scores

Semi-final Beat Kenney 54-44

                                 Title Game Beat Beason 73-53

                                 Clinton Regional Champions

                                 1st Rd Beat Bloomington Trinity 49-46

                                 Semi-final Beat Clinton 59-39

                                 Title Game Beat Leroy 61-54 (O/T)

                                 Decatur Sectional Runner-Up

                                Semi-final Beat Mattoon 60-58

ARGENTA (60): Dalton 21, Groves 12, Harrison 11, Walters 7, Craft 6, Reeser 2, Hallendorf 2.

MATTOON (58): South 14, Wagner 13, Sewell 13, Davis 7, Manuel 3, Branson 3.

                                 Title Game lost to Decatur 73-57

DECATUR (73): Meurlot 28, Poland 19, Olivero 10, Norman 9, Shildneck 4, Hughes 2, Alderson 1.

ARGENTA (57): Walters 21, Groves 13, Dalton 13, Craft 5, Reeser 3, Harrison 2.

Decatur placed 4th in State Tournament

                 Argenta finished as one of the Top 32 Teams in the State!

1951-52     6 – 17      McLean District Tournament            Coach Don Sullivan

1st Rd lost to Beason 61-42

Beason beat McLean in title game

1952-53   12 – 14      Argenta District Tournament            Coach Don Sullivan

1st Rd Beat Wapella 74-52

Semi-final lost to Beason 79-73

Beason beat Waynesville in title game

1953-54   15 – 12      Argenta District Champions          Coach Don Sullivan

Early Rd Scores Needed

                                 Title Game Beat Kenny 75-56

                                 Clinton Regional Tournament

                                 1st Rd lost to Clinton 49-45

Bloomington Trinity beat Clinton in title game

1954-55   17 – 14       IHSA District Champions             Coach Leslie Shadel

                                  District Scores Needed

                                  Clinton Regional Tournament

                                  1st Rd Beat Farmer City 65-62

                                  Semi-final lost to Bloomington 66-52

Clinton beat Bloomington in title game

1955-56   19 – 9       Clinton Regional Tournament           Coach Leslie Shadel

1st Rd Beat Heyworth 94-59

2nd Rd lost to Clinton 70-56

Clinton beat Farmer City in title game

1956-57   17 – 12     Argenta District Champions           Coach Dale Huff

Semi-final Beat Beason 67-56

                                Title Game Beat Wapella 64-46

                                Clinton Regional Runner-Up

                                1st Rd Beat Bloomington Trinity 83-61

                                Semi-final Beat Farmer City 78-63

                                Title Game lost to Maroa 82-57

MAROA (82): Brown 18, G. McClung 17, Chalcraft 15, Staudt 12, L. McClung 12, Connelly 4, James 2, Thomas 2.

ARGENTA (57): Roberts 29, Fear 12, Nixon 6, Phillips 6, Justice 3, Querry 1.

1957-58   10 – 13     Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach Dale Huff

 1st Rd lost to Bloomington Trinity 71-64

Bloomington Trinity beat Clinton in title game

1958-59   19 – 8       Clinton Regional Tournament          Coach Dale Huff

 1st Rd Beat Bloomington Trinity 84-62

                                Semi-final lost to Maroa 68-60

Maroa beat Clinton in title game

1959-60   21 – 7       Bloomington Region Runner-Up  Coach Dale Huff

                                1st Rd Beat Bloomington Trinity 61-54

                                Semi-final Beat Maroa 59-58

                                Title Game lost to Clinton 57-55

CLINTON (57): May 16, Steward 14, Helm 11, Griffin 10, Hartsock 6.

ARGENTA (55): Darnall 15, Fombelle 13, McCammack 12, Allen 11, Justice 4


1960-61   24 – 4       Clinton Regional Runner-Up         Coach Dale Huff

Macon County Tourney Champs

                                 Cenois Conference Champs

                                 Regional Scores

1st Rd Beat Maroa 65-42

                                 Semi-final Beat Bloomington 74-62

                                 Title Game lost to Clinton 71-54

CLINTON (71): McKeown 24, May 14, Steward 11, Helm 9, Hartsock 9, Wilson 2, Griffin 2

ARGENTA (54): Fombelle 13, Allan 13, Beadleston 10, Bryant 10, White 6, Drake 2.

1961-62   10 – 13      Bloomington Regional Tournament  Coach Joe Coverdill

 1st Rd Beat Maroa 67-56

                                 Semi-final lost to Bloomington 64-41

Bloomington beat Beason in title game

1962-63     5 – 18     Clinton Regional Tournament            Coach Joe Coverdill

 1st Rd Beat Maroa-Forsythe 71-54

                                Semi-final lost to Bloomington Trinity 75-51

Trinity beat Bloomington in title game

1963-64   15 – 9       Bloomington Regional Tournament    Coach Paul Taylor

          1st Rd Beat Clinton 61-57

                                Semi-final lost to Bloomington 37-32

Bloomington beat Bloomington Trinity in title game

1964-65   17 – 8       Cerro Gordo District Champs         Coach Paul Taylor

                                Cenois Conference Champs

                                District Scores

                                Semi-final Beat Illiopolis 65-41

                                Title Game Beat Cerro Gordo 61-46

Bloomington Regional Tournament

  1st Rd Beat Warrensburg-Latham 37-36

                                Semi-final lost to Stephen Decatur 89-47

Stephen Decatur beat Decatur in title game

Stephen Decatur lost in Elite 8 Round

1965-66   14 – 14     Niantic District Champs
                 Coach Paul Taylor

                                Semi-final Beat Cerro Gordo 72-58

                                Title Game Beat Niantic-Harristown 81-66

Decatur Regional Tournament

 1st Rd lost to Warrensburg-Latham 47-45

                                Stephen Decatur beat Decatur Eisenhower in title game

Stephen Decatur placed 4th in IHSA state tourney.

Great Players & Coaches of Argenta High School

Great Players

Hal Craig 1940
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

Hal Craig ’40 – Leading scorer for Argenta as a senior, and key member of the 1938-39 squad that reached the sectional finals. Went on to play for Eastern Illinois University after high school and was the 2nd leading scorer for the Panthers in 1944-45.

Leon Heinle 1946
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

Leon Heinle ’46 – Scored 1,053 points at Argenta HS. Played at Illinois State University. Was a 4 year starter for the Redbirds. Team captain as a senior (1949-50).

Thomas “Ralph” Tucker 1954
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

Thomas “Ralph” Tucker ’54 – Scored 642 points at Argenta HS, with a team-leading 420 points as a senior. Attended Illinois State University and played 3 years for the Redbirds. He was elected team captain as a senior.

Dave McKonkey 1956
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

David McConkey ’56 – 1,212 points at Argenta HS. Played on the University of Illinois freshman squad in 1956-57.

Bill Roberts 1957
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

Bill Roberts ’57 – Scored 1196 points at Argenta HS. Played basketball, baseball, and golf at McKendree College. A 4 year starter and 3-time All-Prairie College Conference selection (1958-61). Scored 14.6ppg as a sophomore, 20.3ppg as a junior, and 17.0ppg as a senior. Elected to the McKendree Hall of Fame.

Returned to Argenta as a teacher where he coached boys basketball for 6 years before taking the reins of the girls team, winning 7 regionals, 2 sectionals, and making a state final appearance in 1981-82. Inducted to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003.

David Darnall 1960
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

David Darnall ’60 – Dave was the leading scorer in regional play as a senior at Argenta, and had a 31-point outburst against Farmer City that season. Graduated from Illinois State University, but did not play sports there.

He began his coaching career with stops at Stanford, Gridley, Roseville and Momence high schools before landing the head coaching position at Eureka College. Dave led the Red Devils to 3 straight trips to the NAIA Division II National Tournament and won the National Championship in 1994, after which he was named NAIA Division II Coach of the Year. Eureka won 5 conference titles in his 20 years as head coach. He is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches, Illinois State University, Greater Peoria, and Argenta-Oreana High School Sports Halls of Fame.

Dave Fombelle 1961
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

David Fombelle ’61 – 1,600 point scorer at Argenta. Played for the University of Illinois  freshman team during the 1961-62 season.

Great Coaches

Coach Vernon Drenckpohl
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

Coach Vernon Drenckpohl – Head coach at Argenta from 1931-1942. 8 winning seasons with a record of 153-108 in 11 years at the helm, 4 Macon County Tournament titles and 1 CENOIS Conference title. His 1938-39 squad won an IHSA district title and advanced to the IHSA sectional final before falling to Champaign HS. Went on to successful stints at Vandalia and Sycamore high  schools. Inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1978.

Coach Dale Huff
Submitted by Clay Haurberg

Coach Dale Huff – Came to Argenta in 1956 after stints at Cisne and Deland-Weldon high schools. Racked up a record of 91-44 in 5 years with the Bombers, with 1 Cenois Conference title, 1 IHSA district title, and 2 IHSA regional final appearances. Went on to coach at Bushnell-Prairie City, Ohio, Chester, and Forrest-Strawn-Wing high schools before retiring with a career record of 274-264 in 1979.


**From Michael Sullivan regarding Coach Don Sullivan (1948-49 through 1953-54):

“I was researching my father, Don Sullivan, basketball coaching career and found an Argenta High School page in need of information.  My father coached at Argenta beginning 1948-1949 through the 1953-1954 seasons.  After that he coached the 1954-1955 Peoria Spalding team to the Elite Eight 22-6.  His next position was a year at Farmer City 1955-1956 before moving on to coach at LaSalle-Peru.  This finished his high school coaching as he coached an AAU team “Ottawa Falstaff” and then a stint at LPO Junior College before becoming the first basketball coach at the College of DuPage.

Both my father and his brother Andy coached at the same time and were a successful part of IHSA basketball history.

I recently saw scrapbooks with newspaper articles and pictures from some of his time at Argenta, Peoria Spalding, and Farmer City.  Dad has a large frame sketch of old Peoria Spalding  in his living room given to him be a team member at a class reunion and has been a lifetime friend of a player he coached on the 1950-51 Argenta team that was beaten by Decatur in the Sectional Final.”

**From Jim:

“I was in the Argenta – Oreana school district from 1961- 1973 . We were known as the Bombers the entire time.That has been their nickname for a long time. Before WWII probably was different.”

Seeking More Information

More information is being sought about Argenta High School. Corrections are welcome as well. If you have more information about AHS, including photos of the school, nickname, and other great teams and high school memories you would like to share please write to us via e-mail at . You may also write to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago,  IL  60631

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