Decatur High School “Reds”

Decatur High School
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Built in 1911 – Photo Courtesy of Ray King

The History of Decatur High School

Decatur (population 81,860) sits in the middle of the state of Illinois, linked by U.S. Route 51, Interstate 72, and Illinois Routes 105 and 121. The city is known for its production of soybeans, as evidenced by the location of the world-wide offices of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and the A.E. Staley Company. Lake Decatur sits on the east and south sides of the city, where the Chicago Bears football franchise was born in 1920. The city is named for War of 1812 naval hero Stephen Decatur (1779-1820) who captured the British Macedonian in a desperate fight near Madiera Island.

Secondary (post-eighth grade) education in Decatur traces its roots back to 1862 when the first high school curriculum was established. In 1869, the original Decatur High School building was built. This building served in this capacity until increasing enrollment fostered the need for a new building. This larger and more modern facility was constructed in 1911. The original 1869 building continued being used in an educational capacity until it was razed in 1929 after 60 years of service.

Orig. Decatur HS Bldg After Additions Early 1900s
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Original Decatur High School Building Built – 1869
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The 1911 building (pictured at the top of this page) served as Decatur High School (later renamed “Decatur Senior High School”) until the end of the 1956-57 school year.  During this time period Decatur Senior High School was Decatur’s ONLY public high school.

The town of Decatur had experienced an incredible population boom which also caused the town to grow in land area. Residents foresaw the need for the creation of four separate high school buildings located strategically throughout the city. By 1957, the construction of Lakeview, Eisenhower, and MacArthur High Schools were complete. It was also decided to change the name of Decatur Senior High School to Stephen Decatur High School. Stephen Decatur High School classes continued to be held in the 1911 Decatur High School building.

The original Decatur High School building was eventually seen as outdated and a new building for Stephen Decatur High School was built in 1975.

Ralph Whitsitt provided the following insight to the use of the original Decatur High School building:

“The 1911 building (which my grandmother graduated from in 1927) was torn down in the late 1970’s to make way for the Decatur Civic Center, which now occupies the downtown site. The columns from the facade of the old building were saved and were erected around a statue of Stephen Decatur on the grounds of the Civic Center several years later.”

Decatur Senior High School Quick Facts

Year HS classes started in Decatur:              1862

Year original Decatur HS building built:      1869

Year “new” Decatur HS building built:         1911

Year original HS building razed:                  1929

Year Decatur Senior HS name changed:      1957

Name changed to:                                       Stephen Decatur High School

Year 1911 building closed as a HS:              1975

Decatur Senior HS team nickname:             Up to 1945 the “Reds”

After 1945 the “Running Reds”

School team colors:                                    Red & White

School Fight Song:                                     “Decatur Loyalty Song”

                       (sung to the Northwestern University Fight Song Tune)

                                        Go you Decatur!

                                        Break right through that line —

                                        With your colors flying,

                                        We will cheer you all the time!

                                        Rah!     Rah!    Rah!

                                        Go you Decatur!

                                        Fight for victory.

                                        Spread far the fame

                                        Of our fair name and —

                                        Go!  Decatur!

                                        Win that game!

                                        Go!  Decatur!  Go!

                                        Go!  Decatur!  Go!

                                        Hit ’em High!

                                        Hit ’em low!

                                        Go!  Decatur!  Go!

Cheerleaders and Honor Guard
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Pre-Game National Anthem Ceremony – 1956
AthleticsDecatur Senior High School existed before the girls athletic mandate in the early 1970s. The boys competed in a wide variety of sports however.  Baseball, basketball, football, track, golf, tennis, as well as, quite probably, cross country and wrestling were all offered to the boys of Decatur Senior High School. The best of these teams and individual efforts as listed on the IHSA website ( are listed below.

Boys Basketball

The basketball team was the top of the heap at the school, winning three state championships in the single-class era, all under the leadership of Gay Kintner in 1931, 1936, and 1945. Several other great seasons combined to make Decatur High a perenial powerhouse in high school basketball each year in Illinois.

1911-12    NRA   Fourth in State                       Coach William H. Duerr

Defeated Galesburg 27-26 in first round

Final 4

Lost to Galesburg 26-23

Galesburg placed 2nd

3rd Place Game
Lost to Hillsboro 38-31

1914-15    8- 7    District Tournament Champs  Coach C. E. Howell

                         Qualified for State

Lost to Carbondale 22-21 in first round

Carbondale finished 4th

1915-16  23-4    (outstanding record!)           (coach unknown)

1916-17   10-5    District Champions               Coach Verne Rogers

                         Qualified for State

Lost to Bloomington 18-12 in first round

Bloomington finished 3rd

1918-19   13-3    (good record)                       (coach unknown)

1919-20   11-7    District Champions                Coach Lee Cook

                         Qualified for State

Lost to Marion 23-17 in first round

Marion finished 3rd

1920-21   21-4    District Champs                     Coach W. G. Muir

                         Qualified for State

Lost to Winnetka New Trier in first round 34-31

New Trier finished 3rd

1921-22   10-4                                                  (coach unknown)

1922-23     9-8                                                  (coach unknown)

1923-24   11-8                                                  (coach unknown)

1924-25   22-12   District Champions              (coach unknown)

1925-26     9-6                                                  (coach unknown)

1926-27   16-7                                                  (coach unknown)

1928-29   17-5     District Champions              Coach Gay Kintner

1929-30   21-7                                                  Coach Gay Kintner

Decatur HS State Champions of 1930-31
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1930-31   29-4        STATE CHAMPIONS!!          Coach Gay Kintner
Won District & Sectional 

Elite 8                                        

Beat Collinsville 24-23

Final 4
Defeated Chicago Harrison 27-20

Championship Game
Beat Galesburg 30-26


1931-32   12-9                                                     Coach Gay Kintner
1932-33   16-12       District Champions              Coach Gay Kintner

1934-35   17-10                                                   Coach Gay Kintner

Decatur HS State Champions of 1935-36
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1935-36   24-11      STATE CHAMPIONS!!            Coach Gay Kintner
Won Regional & Sectional titles

                             Sweet 16
Defeated Peoria Manual 17-13

                             Elite 8
Downed Hull 30-27

                             Final 4
Edged Johnston City 20-19

                             Championship Game
Beat Danville 30-26

1936-37    23-12    Second in State Tourney!     Coach Gay Kintner
Won Regional & Sectional titles

                            Sweet 16
Won over LaSalle-Peru 21-10

                            Elite 8

                            Rallied past Moline 14-11

                            Final 4
Beat Pekin 23-15

                            Championship Game

Lost to Joliet 40-20

1937-38    12-17    Qualified for Sweet 16          Coach Gay Kintner
Won Regional & Sectional titles

                           Sweet 16

Lost to Paris HS 33-20

Paris would finish in 3rd Place

1938-39    18-10    Regional Champs                 Coach Gay Kintner
1939-40    19-4      Regional Champs                Coach Gay Kintner
1940-41    19-8      Regional Champs                 Coach Gay Kintner

1941-42    32-5      Elite 8 Finalist                      Coach Gay Kintner
Won Regional & Sectional titles

                            Sweet 16
Defeated Dixon 53-37

                            Elite 8

Lost to Morton HS of Berwyn-Cicero 47-45

Morton would finish in 4th Place

1942-43    28-7      Qualified for Sweet 16       Coach Gay Kintner
Regional & Sectional champs

                            Sweet 16

Lost to West Frankfort (Frankfort) 55-39

1943-44    24-8      Regional Champs               Coach Gay Kintner

Decatur HS State Champions of 1944-45
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1944-45    37-2        STATE CHAMPIONS!!          Coach Gay Kintner
Won Regional & Sectional crowns

                              Ranked #2 in final regular season AP poll

                              Sweet 16
Beat Collinsville 77-46

                              Elite 8
Edged Galesburg 73-72 (2 O/T)

                              (lead changed hands 33 times!)

                              Final 4
Downed Moline 62-46

                              Championship Game
Topped Champaign 62-54

1945-46     26-10    Qualified for Elite 8              Coach Gay Kintner
Won both Regional & Sectional titles

                             Sweet 16
Defeated Pana 59-41

                             Elite 8

Lost to Dundee 55-48

Dundee would place 3rd

1946-47     28-9      Regional Champs                Coach Gay Kintner
1947-48     19-7      Regional Champs                 Coach Gay Kintner

1948-49     21-9      Elite 8 Finalist                      Coach Gay Kintner
Won Regional & Sectional titles

                             Sweet 16
Defeated Pittsfield 82-48

                             Elite 8

Lost to eventual state champ

Mount Vernon 71-51

1949-50     23-5      Regional Champs                 Coach Gay Kintner

1950-51     22-10    Fourth Place in State             Coach Gay Kintner
Won Regional & Sectional titles

                             Sweet 16
Downed Danville 68-58

                             Elite 8
Beat Peoria Woodruff 73-50

                             Final 4

Lost to eventual state champ

Freeport in semifinals 88-60

Third Place Game
Edged by Quincy 60-58

1951-52      20-7     Regional Champs                   Coach Gay Kintner

                             (17th consecutive)

1952-53      15-11                                                 Coach Gay Kintner
1953-54      20-8     Regional Champs                 Coach Gay Kintner

1954-55      24-5     Sweet 16 Qualifier                Coach Gay Kintner
Won Regional & Sectional titles

                             Sweet 16

Lost to eventual state champ

West Rockford 58-54

1955-56      15-10                                                 Coach Gay Kintner

1956-57      14-11    (Last year as Decatur HS)    Coach Gay Kintner

Boys Tennis

The boys tennis program showed a real “love” for the game from the beginning. A State Championship, two runner-up finishes, and a total of SIX top-ten finishes hi-light the Decatur High School tennis successes.

1927  (??) Connell & (??) Dunning—2nd in Doubles @IHSA Finals

1941  District Champs                                    (coach unknown)
1942  Otho Mendenhall & Charles Norman – 3rd – Doubles  Coach Elmer Kunze 

1943  District Champs                                    Coach Elmer Kunze
1945  District Champs                                    Coach Gerald Cox
1946  District Champs        2nd in State         Coach Gerald Cox

1947  District Champs        STATE CHAMPS!  Coach Gerald Cox

           Roger Brady & Paul Schumacher—2nd in Doubles @IHSA Finals

1950  District Champs       10th in State          Coach Ray Nelson 

1951                                   9th in State           Coach Ray Nelson
Roger Bielfield & Harold Stafford—5th in Doubles @IHSA Finals

1952  Roger Bielfield—5th in Singles             Coach John Allen

1954  District Champs                                     Coach John Allen
1955  District Champs                                     Coach John Allen
Elliott Bell—5th in Singles @ IHSA Finals

1956  District Champs        5th in State           Coach John Allen
Charles Lockhart & Bruce Stafford—3rd in Doubles @IHSA Finals 

1957  District Champs        2nd in State          Coach John Allen
Charles Lockhart—2nd in Singles @IHSA Finals

            Bruce Stafford & Jim Kohl—3rd in Doubles @IHSA Finals

Boys Golf

Two top-ten finishes and six District Championships were won by the Decatur High School Reds linksters.

1938   District Champs                                        (coach unknown)
1939   District Champs                                        (coach unknown)
State Qualifier
1940   District Champs                                        (coach unknown)
State Qualifer
1949   District Champs                                        (coach unknown)
4th in State Finals
1953   District Champs                                        (coach unknown)
6th in State Finals
1955   District Champs                                        (coach unknown)
State Qualifier

Boys Baseball

Eight District titles and four Sectional Championships made the DHS Reds a team capable of winning the state title each year. The Reds advanced to the Elite 8 on four occasions and the Final Four once.

1941  NRA  District Champs                             (coach unknown)
1947  13-4  District & Sectional Champs          Coach Gay Kintner
Qualified for State Finals

Lost to LaSalle-Peru 5-4 in quarterfinals

1950  NRA  District Champs                             (coach unknown)
1951  15-5   District & Sectional Champs         Coach G.C. Galbreath
Qualified for State Finals
Defeated Murphysboro 5-2 in quarterfinals

Lost to Pekin 3-0 in semifinals (Pekin eventual state champion)

1952  NRA   District Champs                            (coach unknown)
1953  NRA   District & Sectional Champs        Coach Dave Batthauer
Qualified for State Finals

Lost to Murphysboro 6-5 in quarterfinals

1954  NRA   District Champs                           (coach unknown)
1955  NRA   District & Sectional Champs        Coach Dave Batthauer
Qualified for State Finals

Lost to North Chicago 2-0 in quarterfinals

Boys Track & Field

The Decatur High School tracksters earned a ton of medals and garnered nine top-ten finishes and eight District titles during its tenure.

1898  Team Finished SIXTH at IHSA STATE Meet    (coach unknown)
Individual Medalists 

           Frank Lindsay  2nd Place                       440 Dash
2nd Place                       1 Mile Run
Will Murray      2nd Place                       1 Mile Bicycle
1899   Team Finished SIXTH at IHSA STATE Meet    (coach unknown)

           Indiividual Medalists
Frank Lindsay   2nd Place                       880 Run
3rd Place                        1 Mile Run
Will Murray       2nd Place                       1 Mile Bicycle
1900   Team Finished THIRD at IHSA STATE Meet    (coach unknown)
Individual Medalists

             Ed Keller           STATE CHAMPION          880 Bicycle

                                       2nd Place                       440 Bicycle

                   (only time both events were contested at state finals)

Ray Leonard     3rd Place                        Pole Vault
Frank Lindsay   STATE CHAMPION           880 Run
2nd Place                        1 Mile Run
1901   Team Finished FOURTH at IHSA STATE Meet (coach unknown)
Individual Medalists      

             Clarence Neiman STATE CHAMPION!!      High Jump
???? Murray         2nd Place                     880 Run
George Duhigg     3rd Place                      1 Mile Bicycle
1902      ???? Garland       2nd Place                     Standing Broad Jump
1909     Clarence Bowers   4th Place                      Hammer Throw
1911   Team Finished FIFTH at IHSA State Meet       (coach unknown)
Individual Medalists

             Will Noonan         STATE CHAMPION        1 Mile Run
STATE CHAMPION         880 Run
M. Allen                4th Place                      Hammer Throw
1912   Team Finished TENTH at IHSA STATE Meet    (coach unknown)
Individual Medalists

             Floyd Miller          2nd Place                     120 Hurdles
4th Place                      220 Hurdles
Art Harry               4th Place                      880 Run
1914A  Stanley Smith         3rd Place                     120 Hurdles
1915A  Garth Glasgow        4th Place                     1 Mile Run
Bernard Simmons   4th Place                    120 Hurdles
1916A  Team Finished SEVENTH at STATE Meet    (coach unknown)
Individual Medalist  

               Paul Powers        STATE CHAMPION       100 Dash
STATE CHAMPION       220 Dash
1924A  John Hanks              2nd Place                    880 Run
1926     Lee Sentman          4th Place                     220 Hurdles
1927     Lee Sentman          2nd Place                    220 Hurdles
1932    District Champs                                           (coach unknown)
1937    District Champs                                           (coach unknown)
Team Finiished SIXTH in STATE Meet

             Individual Medalists
Walter Stroyek      STATE CHAMPION       200 Hurdles
Walter Stroyek      2nd Place                    120 Hurdles
Walter Fedora       5th Place                     Javelin
1940     District Champs                                           Coach Francis White
Individual Medalist   

              Robert Dansby       3rd Place                     Discus
1941     District Champs                                           Coach Francis White
Individual Medalist

               Robert Dansby      3rd Place                     Discus
1942     Roy Hudspeth           4th Place                    120 Hurdles
1947     District Champs                                           Coach Francis White
1948     District Champs                                           Coach Francis White
Individual Medalists

              William Stuckey     2nd Place                    1 MIle Run
Dave Bernard         4th Place                     120 Hurdles
1949     District Champs                                            Coach Francis White
1950     District Champs                                            Coach Francis White
1951    Team Finished FIFTH in STATE Meet           Coach Francis White

               Individual Medalists

               Laudell Jackson    2nd Place                     Long Jump
Laudell Jackson    3rd Place                      100 Dash
Arthur Day             4th Place                      440 Dash
1954       Darrell Adcock         5th Place                      Pole Vault

Actor Ronald Reagan Crowns the DHS Hmecoming Queen
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Queen Nancy Jo Black – 1955-56 School Year

Great Coaches and Athletes

—Gay Kintner – won 649 games as basketball coach from 1928-60 at Decatur and later Stephen Decatur High School, including three state titles, for a winning percentage of .708.

—Van Howe – compiled a 43-24-5 record in football from 1948-56 (.632), with three seasons of seven wins each.

—Gerald Cox – coached boys’ tennis team to state title in 1947

—Frank Lindsay – brought home six medals from the state track meet between 1898-1900, winning once, taking four seconds, and one third. The football stadium and track at nearby Millikin University are named for him.

—Will Noonan – won state titles in the 880 and one mile runs at the state track meet in 1911

—Paul Powers – a double winner in the 100 and 220 yard dashes at the 1916A state track meet.

We Are Requesting Your Assistance…

to tell the story about the history of Decatur High School. If you have any additional information or pictures, we would be most happy to use it. Please email your information to us at or send it to the address listed below. Special thanks go to longtime Decatur sportswriter Tom McNamara for his help, along former Chicago sportswriter Jim Enright’s book March Madness: The History of High School Basketball in Illinois (1977) for valuable information in preparing this page.

Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva
Chicago, Il  60631

Decatur High School Building
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Decatur High School Building
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