Colfax Octavia High School “Rockets”

Colfax Octavia High School Bldg – 1955 Yearbook
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Submitted by Patty Green McCarty
Colfax Octavia High School
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Built 1953

The History of Octavia High School

The towns of Colfax (population 989), Cooksville (population 213), and Anchor (population 175) are all located on Illinois Route 165 between 10 and 20 miles east (and a little north) of Bloomington. This places the three towns in eastern Illinois in the upper western portion of McLean County. You can read about the history of each town and its individual high school on this site.

The year was 1948 when the school districts of Colfax, Cooksville and Anchor pooled their resources and consolidated into one district. The basketball coach of the time, Coach Paul Orr, came up with the “perfect” name for the new District. Since it was Unit District #8, Coach Orr suggested the new district be named “Octavia”, from the Latin word “octave”, which means eight! Hence, the Octavia School District was formed.

The Colfax High School building built in 1904 (and pictured on the Colfax page of this site) was used as the Octavia High School building until the new building was ready for occupancy in 1953. The Octavia School District was extremely successful in every way. The District did not really die or end like many others on this site. In 1989 the School District of Saybrook-Arrowsmith joined the Octavia School District to create the now-named Ridgeview School District. The high school for Ridgeview is located in the former Octavia High School building in Colfax.

Octavia High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                      1948

Year new district formed: 1989

School building:                 used as Ridgeview High School

School nickname:              the “Rockets”

School colors:                    Maroon & White

School Fight Song:           “On Octavia”

Sung to the tune of ON Wisconsin

Click the play button below and sing along!

On Octavia, on Octavia, 

                                                 On Maroon and White!

                                                 Fight you Rockets,

                                                 Fight you Rockets,

                                                 Victory is in sight!


                                                 Rah! Rah! Rah!

For the pride

                                                  And the glory

                                                  Of OHS!

                                                  Onward you Rockets,
On to victory!

Fight Octavia,

                                                   Fight Octavia,

                                                   With your heart and soul!
On you Rockets,

                                                   On you Rockets,

                                                   Victory is our goal!


                                                    Rah Rah Rah! 

                                                    Ever faithful, ever true,

                                                    Loyal through and through!

                                                    Winning or losing

                                                    We will stand by you!

ATHLETICSThe Colfax Octavia High School Rockets competed in many different sports. The boys played footbal, basketball, track, and baseball while the girls competed in volleyball, basketball, track, and bowling. There was a measure of success in each sport. State tournament hardware was won in nearly every event. A very detailed account of each season was found in the sports of football and boys basketball. The information we have discovered is listed below. If you wish to add or correct anything please contact us via e-mail.



Octavia High School is located in the middle of a true “hotbed” of high school football in Illinois. You might say you can either sink or swim as far as being competitive. Way more often than not, the Octavia Rockets soared as members of the Sangamon Valley Conference, winning or sharing the conference title 10 times!

An excellent overview of the history and many successes of the Rocket football program can be found at a web site developed by current OHS Head Football Coach Mike Benton. His web site,, gives a very good view of the programs which fed into the current Ridgeview High School football program. Included is a year-by-year look at the Octavia Rockets beginning in 1949 and ending in 1988. The best of these seasons are listed below.

1949-53   11 – 21 – 4                                               Coach Bob McDonald

Octavia’s First Football Team
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The 1949-50 Rockets

1954-55     5-2                                                               Coach Warren Cooper

1955-56     7-1        Conference Co-Champs          Coach Warren Cooper

1956-57     6-2        Conference 3rd Place              Coach Warren Cooper

1958-59     5-4        Conference 4th Place              Coach Warren Cooper

1959-60     4-4        Conference 3rd Place              Coach Warren Cooper

1961-62     6-1-1     Conference Runner-up            Coach Warren Cooper

1962-63     7-1        Conference Runner-up            Coach Warren Cooper

1963-64     7-1        Conference Champions           Coach Warren Cooper

1964-65     4-4-1     Conference 5th Place              Coach Warren Cooper

1965-66     8-1        Conference Champions           Coach Warren Cooper

1966-67     8-1        Conference Runner-up            Coach Warren Cooper

1967-68     9-0        Conference Champions           Coach Warren Cooper

Undefeated Conference Champs
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1967-68 Rockets 9 – 0

1969-70     8-0-1     Conference Champions                 Coach Warren Cooper

1970-71     6-3        Conference 3rd Place                     Coach Warren Cooper

1974-75     5-4        Conference 5th Place                     Coach Leon Kellar

1975-76     9-2        IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier    Coach Leon Kellar

                                  Conference Champions (8-1)

                                   Elite 8 Finalist!

                                   Beat Carlinville 24 – 0

Lost to Danville Schlarman 7- 6

Elite 8 Finalists
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1975-76 Octavia High School Rockets

1976-77     7-2        Conference Runner-up                  Coach Leon Kellar

1978-79     9-2        IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier   Coach Leon Kellar

                                  Conference Champions (8-1) 

                                  Elite 8 Finalist!

                                  Beat Chatsworth 40 – 19

                                  Lost to Stronghurst Southern 18 – 0


1979-80     6-3        Conference 3rd Place                    Coach Leon Kellar


1981-82     7-3        IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier    Coach Tom Atwell

                                  Conference Champions (7-2)

                                  Lost to Gilman 20 – 6


1982-83     8-2        IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier    Coach Tom Atwell

                                  Conference Champions (8-1)       

                                  Lost to Bement 6 – 0


1983-84     5-4        Conference 3rd Place                       Coach Tom Atwell


1987-88     8-2        IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier    Coach Dean Bartges

                                  Conference Champions (8-1)     

                                  Lost to Chenoa 19 – 8


1988-89     8-2        IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier    Coach Dean Bartges

                                  Conference Champions (8-1)      

                                  Lost to Lexington 28 – 12


Octavia High School Football Overall Record 1949 – 1988

198 – 137 – 10



The Octavia Rockets boys basketball program had some great success on the hardwood as well. A total of 4 Regional titles and 6 District titles were earned by the Rockets. The six District titles were won in succession from 1966-71. Also of note, Octavia won the prestigious McLean County Tournament 13 times while representing the Maroon and White of eastern McLean County.

Two coaches set the mark for the rest of the Octavia basketball coaches. Coach Ralph Sackett led the Rockets for only four seasons, but what a mark he left! Sackett’s teams went 84-16 and won three consecutive Regional Championships!  Don Carlson coached at COHS for 13 seasons (1965-66 through 1977-78). The six District titles were won during Coach Carlson’s first six seasons at the school. Coach Carlson had 10 seasons with winning records and 5 seasons of 20 or more games won. Every season that Octavia competed in is listed on the IHSA web site (

Scores from the IHSA State Tournament involving Colfax Octavia were found on a website titled “Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores.” These scores and the located of the tournament are posted below.

1949-50    3-17      Octavia’s First Season                                Coach Paul Orr

                              Chenoa Regional Tournament

                              1st Rd lost to Normal U-High 55-47

                              U-High lost title game to Lexington


1950-51     2-19                                                                         Coach Paul Orr

Postseason scores unavailable


1951-52     5-6                                                                           Coach Paul Orr

Lexington Regional Tournament

1st Rd lost to Chenoa 64-62

Chenoa lost in semi-final round

1952-53  11-10                                                                          Coach Bob McDonald

Fairbury Regional Tournament

1st Rd lost to Normal 70-63

Normal won title over Lexington

1953-54  15-  7                                                                          Coach Loren Laub

                               Fairbury Regional Runner-Up!

                               1st Rd Beat Forrest 58-57 (O/T)

                               Semi-final Beat Chenoa 71-56

                               Title Game lost to Lexington 72-63


1954-55  11-11                                                                          Coach Loren Laub

Fairbury Regional Tournament

1st Rd lost to Forrest 72-54

Forrest lost in semi-final round


1955-56  19-  4    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                   Coach Loren Laub

                               Fairbury Regional Tournament

                               1st Rd lost to Forrest 58-36

                               Forrest lost in title game


1956-57  17-  4    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                   Coach Loren Laub

                                Normal Regional Semi-finalist

                                1st Rd Beat Chenoa 56-53

                                Semi-final lost to Fairbury 68-60

                                Fairbury lost title game to Forrest


1957-58  10- 11                                                                        Coach Loren Laub

Fairbury Regional Tournament

1st Rd lost to Fairbury 67-48

Fairbury won Regional title

1958-59  17-  5    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                  Coach Loren Laub

                                Normal Regional Runner-Up!

                                1st Rd Beat Fairbury 72-59

                                Semi-final Beat Forrest-S-W 65-54

                                Title Game lost to Normal 94-60


1959-60   6- 14                                                                          Coach Loren Laub

Postseason scores unavailable

1960-61  19-  6                                                                          Coach Charles Brannon

                                Normal Regional Runner-up!

                                1st Rd Beat Fairbury 37-36

                                Semi-final Beat Normal 63-62

                                Title Game lost to Lexingotn 62-47


1961-62  17-  8    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                    Coach Ralph Sackett

                                Fairbury Regional Champions!

                                1st Rd Beat Fairbury 53-51

                                Semi-final Beat Lexington 60-52

                                Title Game Beat Normal U-High 64-58

                                Peoria Sectional Tournament

                                Semi-final lost to Lincoln 60-51

                                Lincoln lost title game to Washington


1962-63  23-  2    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                     Coach Ralph Sackett

                                Normal Regional Champions!

                                1st Rd Beat Chenoa 74-54

                                Semi-final Beat Lexington 76-63

                                Title Game Beat Normal U-High 59-55 (O/T)

                                Peoria Sectional Tournament

                                Semi-final lost to East Peoria 74-52

                                East Peoria lost title game to Peoria Central 


1963-64  23-  2    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                     Coach Ralph Sackett

                                Fairbury Regional Champions!

                                Semi-final Beat Normal U-High 74-58

                                Title Game Beat Lexington 74-61

                                Normal Sectional Tournament

                                Semi-final lost to Decatur 71-40

                                Decatur won title over Rantoul


1964-65  21-  2                                                                            Coach Ralph Sackett

                                Postseason scores unavailable


1965-66  18-  6    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                     Coach Don Carlson

                                IHSA District Champions!

                                Semi-final Beat Heyworth 66-50

                                Title Game Beat Farmer City 83-60


                                IHSA Regional Qualifier


                                1st Rd Lost to Bloomington Trinity 58-55


1966-67  21-  4    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                     Coach Don Carlson

                                IHSA District Champions!

                                1st Rd Beat Chenoa 77-50

                                Semi-final Beat Heyworth 54-50

                                Title Game Beat Farmer City 63-56

                                Fairbury Regional Tournament

                                1st Rd lost to Bloomington 82-71

                                Bloomington lost in semi-final round


1967-68  21-  4    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                     Coach Don Carlson

                                Heyworth District Champions!

                                Semi-final Beat Tri-Valley 90-60

                                Title Game Beat Lexingotn 79-60

                                Normal Regional Semi-Finalist

                                1st Rd Beat Bloomington 73-54

                                Semi-final lost to Normal 72-68 (O/T)

                                Normal lost title game to Normal U-High


1968-69  18-  7                                                                            Coach Don Carlson

                                Colfax Octavia District Champions!

                                Semi-final Beat Gridley 63-58

                                Title Game Beat Wapella 65-59

                                Bloomington Regional Tournament

                                1st Rd lost to Bloomington 55-36

                                Bloomington lost in semi-final round


1969-70  24-  3    McLean co. Tourney Champs                       Coach Don Carlson

                                Leroy District Champions!

                                Semi-final Beat Lexingotn 72-52

                                Title Game Beat Wapella 63-49

                                Normal Regional Runner-Up!!

                                1st Rd Beat Bloomington CC 59-57

                                Semi-final Beat Bloomington 43-42 (2 O/Ts)

                                Title Game lost to Normal U-High 71-62 


1970-71  23-  4                                                                            Coach Don Carlson

                                Leroy District Champions!

                                Semi-final Beat Tri-Valley 75-55

                                Title Game Beat Wapella 74-66

                                Bloomington Regional Tournament

                                1st Rd Beat Bloomington Central Catholic 79-78

                                Semi-final lost to Bloomington 58-40

                                Bloomington lost to U-High in title game  


1971-72  19-  6                                                                             Coach Don Carlson

                                Fairbury Regional Runner-Up!

                                1st Rd Beat Bloomington CC 74-42

                                Semi-final Beat Gridley 76-67

                                Title Game lost to Normal U-High 61-51 


1972-73  22-  2    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                      Coach Don Carlson     

                              IHSA Class ‘A’ Regional Runner-Up

                              Semi-Final Beat Gridley 70-52

                              Title Game lost to Lexington 73-70


1973-74  19-  5                                                                             Coach Don Carlson

                              IHSA Class ‘A’ Regional Tourney

                              1st Rd Beat Fairbury-Cropsey 70-52

                              Semi-final lost to Normal U-High 47-39


1974-75  12-10                                                                             Coach Don Carlson

                              IHSA Class ‘A’ Regional Tourney

                              1st Rd lost to Normal U-High 73-44


1975-76   8- 14                                                                             Coach Don Carlson

                              IHSA Class ‘A’ Regional Tourney

                              1st Rd Beat Fairbury-Cropsey 68-56

                              Semi-final lost to Gridley 73-57

1976-77  12-10                                                                             Coach Don Carlson

                              IHSA Class ‘A’ Regional Tourney

                              1st Rd lost to Eureka 76-59


1977-78   7- 18                                                                             Coach Don Carlson

                              IHSA Class ‘A’ Regional Tourney

                              1st Rd lost to Normal U-High 74-66


1978-79  17-  8                                                                             Coach Lou Hagenbruch

                                Postseason scores unavailable


1979-80    8- 18                                                                            Coach Lou Hagenbruch

                                Postseason scores unavailable


1980-81  10- 16                                                                            Coach Gale Thoroman

                                Postseason scores unavailable


1981-82  17-  9                                                                             Coach Gale Thoroman

                                Postseason scores unavailable


1982-83  15-13    IHSA Regional Champions!                          Coach John Dolan

                                Regional Scores Unavailable

                                Normal Sectional Tournament

                                1st Rd lost to Flanagan 63-39

                                Flanagan won Sectional over Bloomington CC


1983-84  14-11                                                                             Coach John Dolan

                                Postseason Scores Unavailable


1984-85    7-17                                                                             Coach John Dolan

                                Postseason Scores Unavailable


1985-86  13-11                                                                             Coach John Dolan

                                Postseason Scores Unavailable


1986-87  22-  2    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                      Coach Rodney Kellar

                                Postseason Scores Unavailable


1987-88  20-  8    IHSA Regional Champions!                           Coach Rodney Kellar

                                Postseason Scores Unavailable


1988-89  17-  9    McLean Co. Tourney Champs                       Coach Rodney Kellar

                                Postseason Scores Unavailable


**School’s Final Season, became Ridgeview High School in 1989.



For a small school, Octavia High faired extremely well in the sport of Girls Bowling. The Lady “Queenpins”, led by head coach Carmen Blair, won three consecutive District titles (1978, ’79, ’80) and qualified for the State Finals in 1981. In fact, Coach Blair’s bowling team of 1979-80 finished SIXTH in the State Finals. Coach Blair was Octavia High’s only girls bowling coach. One athlete, Joan Dowell, took a top-ten finish in 1982 as well!

1977-78    District Champions                                    Coach Carmen Blair

                Qualified for State Finals Tournament

1978-79    District Champions                                    Coach Carmen Blair

                Qualified for State Finals Tournament


1979-80    District Champions                                    Coach Carmen Blair


                 Team Finished SIXTH in State Finals Tournament    

                        Final Team Standings 

                1.)  Rich Central            10,136 pts.

2.)  Dixon                           9,913

3.)  Abingdon                     9,706

4.)  Chillicothe IVC             9,476

5.)  Gurnee Warren            7,177

                6.)  COLFAX OCTAVIA     7,124

                7.)  Midlothian Bremen       7,036

8.)  Lemont                         6,935

9.)  Evergreen Park            4,666

10)  Hoffman Estates           4,640

1981-82      Individual Medalist    Joan Dowell    10th Place


The boys track and field team brought home a total of 7 individual medals in State Competition. One athlete in particular, Gayln Sweet, excelled to the point that earned a gold medal (STATE CHAMPION) for two consecutive years in the high jump. Making this feat even more incredible is that it was accomplished when there was only one class in track & field in Illinois! Gayln’s effort in 1969 even earned the team a 9th place finish!

For more excellent information on the Octavia High School Track Program check out, a site developed by current Ridgeview High Coach Mike Benton.

1968-69    Team Finished NINTH in STATE Meet Competition


                Individual Medalist

                Gayln Sweet          High Jump         STATE CHAMPION!!


                Final Team Standings


                1.)  Alton                              25

2.)  East Moline                   16

3.)  Chicago Englewood      15

4.)  Chicago Hts. Bloom      13

5.)  Morton West                  10

6.)  Proviso West                   9

7.)  Proviso East                    8

7.)  Palatine                            8

                9.)  COLFAX OCTAVIA         6

                      York, Thornton. North Chicago, Wheaton North, St. Charles

also tied at 9th with 6 points

1969-70    Individual Medalist    

                   Gayln Sweet      High Jump                STATE CHAMPION!!




1976-77    IHSA Class ‘A’ Sectional Champions              Coach Don Carlson

1977-78    Individual Medalist    

                   Jeff Brinkman    330 Yard Hurdles   5TH Place


1979-80    Individual Medalist

                   Mike Peterson   880 Yard Run           6TH Place


1980-81    Individual Medalist

                   Mike Peterson   880 Yard Run           2ND Place


1985-86    Individual Medalist

                   Kregg Ummell     1600 Meter Run     5TH Place


1986-87    Individual Medalist

                   Kregg Ummell     1600 Meter Run     2ND Place



The Rocket baseball program also earned a Regional Title. Unfortunately, this is all that is known about their success. If you have any more information, especially season records and coaches’ names, please drop us an e-mail.

1954-55          Conference Champions


1960-61          Regional Champions

1965-66          District Champions                                      Coach Don Carlson


1973-74          Sangamon Valley Conference Champs     Coach Lyle Miner


The Lady Rocket roundballer’s records are listed for the seasons of 1980-81 through 1987-88. Their best record during that time is the last one listed (11-9).  The coach during these 8 seasons was Lou Hagenbruch.

1987-88   11 – 9                                                       Coach Lou Hagenbruch


Only three seasons of the Lady Rockets volleyball records are covered on the IHSA web site (1986-87 through 1988-89). The coach of the team during this time was Cathy Weber.

Dennie Bridges/Octavia Class of 1957
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Courtesy of Illinois Wesleyan University (


In addition to being at a three-sport athlete at Octavia, Dennie Bridges (see photo to the right) was able to communicate to his players as a successful basketball coach at Illinois Wesleyan University. The Class of 1957 graduate went on to attend IWU and continued representing the university in three sports until he graduated in 1961. Bridges became the Titans’ mens’ basketball coach in 1965, staying on the job for the next 36 seasons as his Titans compiled a record of 667-319 before stepping down after the 2000-01 season. The 667 wins are the second-most by any Division III mens’ basketball coach, winning the Division III title in 1997, & bringing home third place finishes in 1996 and 2001. Along with that, Bridges’ teams won 17 conference titles and qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament 14 out of 18 seasons. Today, the former Rocket is still serves at Illinois Wesleyan as its athletic director.


If you would like to provide ANY more information on the successes of Octavia High School please e-mail us. Additional photos and other information can be e-mailed to us at You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago,  Il.   60631

  1. Octavia was made up of Colfax, Cooksville and Anchor. Anchor High School “Aces”
    Not Fairbury-Cropsey.

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