(Buda) Western High School “Rams”

Western High School
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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
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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
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Western HS Basketball Summary 1974-75

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Buda Western HS Basketball Roster 1974-75
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IHSA 1974-75 Sweet 16 TOurney Bracket

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IHSA Statre Finals Program Cover 1974-75
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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
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WHS Cheerleaders/Info – 1976 Tourney Program

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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
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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
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Western Football Field
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