El Paso High School “Comets”

El Paso High School
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Photo Courtesy of Rose R.
El Paso Westside School
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The History of El Paso High School

El Paso (population 2,695) is located in southeast Woodford County, approximately 15 miles north of Bloomington-Normal and 35 miles east of Peoria at the intersection of U.S. Highway 24 and Interstate 39. El Paso is four miles north of the Mackinaw River.

The town was laid out in 1854 by two land speculators from Peoria, James Wathen and George Gibson. They persuaded the Peoria & Oquakwa Railroad (now the Toledo, Peoria & Western –T. P. & W.) to plan their route east from Peoria so it would intersect the Illinois Central Railroad tracks (which had been laid north and south in 1853) where they had purchased land. The two tracks met in 1856 and the first buildings and residents came soon after. The town was named “El Paso” (Spanish for “The Pass”) by George Gibson, who had recently returned from a trip to California via the Rio Grande Pass in Texas. The much larger city of the same name in Texas did not adopt the El Paso name until 1859, previously being known as Magoffinsville and Franklin.

El Paso Jefferson School
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The El Paso schools have a long and complicated history. The Illinois Central tracks bisected the town north and south, with Wathen owning the lots on the west side and Gibson on the east. Each promoted his side of town, with each side having bakeries, meat markets, hotels, etc. and by 1859, each side had its own school district. The first high school graduate of a two-year program was from the “East Side” school in 1874. The first four-year graduates were in 1893. The schools were known as “East Side” and “West Side” until 1897, when the new west side school building was named Jefferson Park. The East Side school was named McKinley School in 1901 after the assassination of President William McKinley. The two schools continued their separate ways. Sometimes they combined for non-school sponsored sports teams like football, but each school sent a team to the first three Woodford County track meets. In the fall of 1910, the high school courses were combined into one El Paso High School at Jefferson Park. The grade school districts remained separate until 1944, when they finally consolidated.

In 1915, El Paso Township High School District #375 was approved by voters, though not without a court fight that eventually ended up in the Illinois State Supreme Court. The present brick building housing most of the current high school classes was completed in 1921. It was a then-state of the art three story building, with an auditorium and gymnasium and even space for a swimming pool, though the latter was not completed until 1939.

In 1948, El Paso Community Unit District #375 was voted in. That included the high school and grade school districts and also outlying areas as far away as Secor and south of the Mackinaw River near Carlock.

In March, 2004, voters in both El Paso Unit #375 and Gridley Unit #10 voted overwhelmingly to consolidate the two districts. On July 1, 2004, El Paso-Gridley Unit District #11 was formed, with the high school at El Paso and the junior high at Gridley.


El Paso colors since 1915 were always Purple and Gold. There was no official nickname for many years. In the 1920s, articles referred to El Paso’s teams mostly as “Purple Warriors” or just “The Purple.” There were a couple of attempts to attach more colorful names, most notably “Texans” and “Golden Avalanche,” but they didn’t stick. By the mid-1930s there are references in the local newspaper to “Red Comets” possibly referring to the fact that the basketball team for several years wore red uniforms. By 1940, Comets was the official nickname, as the school yearbook was named “The Cometeer.”


The school song was written in the early 1940s by student Bob Gordon. It was sung to the tune of “On Wisconsin”:

On El Paso, On El Paso

We go out to win

Stick together, through the weather

Full of pep and vim.

Rah Rah Rah!

On El Paso, On El Paso

Hold your standards high

School spirit, loyalty,

El – Pa – so – High.

(chanted) C-C–C-O-M, E-E–E-T-S

C-O-M, E-T-S, Comets! Comets! Fight!

El Paso High School
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The El Paso High School Comets had many great seasons, coaches, and athletes come through their school. The boys football program was extrememly strong playing in the State Championship game along the way. Boys sports of basketball, track, and wrestling were also quite successful. The girls won some IHSA hardware in volleyball (www.ihsa.org). They also competed in basketball, track, and softball. If you have any further information to supply regarding the great athletic program of the El Paso Comets please contact us via e-mail at dr.veeman@gmail.com.


The El Paso High School boys football program was an extrememly competitive sport during the entire existence of the school. There is a record of each season posted on the IHSA website for the Comets beginnning with the 1915 season and ending with the 2003-04 team. State playoffs were the norm in the later years, with the high point being a SECOND PLACE FINISH in the 2002-03 season!

A history and team records of the great El Paso grid iron boys was written by Merlin Haas. The information Merlin provided appears below:

“The first high school football game of any sort was played at the El Paso Fairgrounds on Oct. 16, 1897 when El Paso defeated Normal High School. Teams were fielded for the next six years (a 1903 result has El Paso beating Minonk 17-6) but their game with three downs to make five yards and no forward passing does not bear much resemblance to the modern game. The sport was discontinued after 1903 due to the many injuries caused by rough play (and no pads or helmets).

There was no football of any kind for 12 years before the revival of the sport on October 15, 1915 as LeRoy beat El Paso 15-7 at the El Paso Fairgrounds (close to where the present El Paso-Gridley High School football field is located now) with the first EP touchdown coming on a 30-yard pass from Hurd Adams to Virgil Gordon (Gordon later played for Northwestern University).

The sport took a one-year hiatus in 1918 due to World War I and the lack of a coach, but the game came back in 1919, and there were teams every year thereafter. Of the 88 teams El Paso fielded, 56 had winning records, with an overall record of 457 wins, 302 losses, and 36 ties for a win-lost percentage of .597.

The playing field was moved to the current site of the Centennial School for the 1933 season and lights were installed the next year. The first lighted home game was October 12th, 1934, though the first El Paso team to play under the lights had done so at Streator on October 9th, 1931. When construction on Centennial School took place, the field was moved to its present location north of the current El Paso-Gridley High School building, with the first game played there on October 6th, 1955.

The first Homecoming Game was Thanksgiving Day, 1923, with a 7-6 victory over St. Bede. There were Homecomings in 1927 & 1928 before the event became an annual affair in 1932. El Paso had a 53-18-2 record in Homecoming games.”

Conference Championships

Illini Conference—1929

Midstate Conference—1957, 1959, 1964, 1971, 1981, 1984, 1991, and 1996

Midstate Conference (North Division)—1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

Seasonal Records, Coaches, and Playoff Results

1915-16                                                               Coach Paul Mulliker

1916-17                                                               Coach Ed Vanneman

1917-18                                                               Coach Perl Miller

1919-20   6-3-1                                                  Coach Harry Clark

1920-21   7-2                                                      Coach Harry Clark

1921-22   4-3-1                                                  Coach Harry Clark

1922-23   5-4                                                      Coach Harry Clark

1923-24   6-2                                                      Coach Harry Clark

1924-25                                                               Coach Harry Clark

1925-26   6-2                                                      Coach Harry Clark

1926-27   5-3                                                      Coach Harry Clark

1927-28   3-3-2                                                  Coach Harry Clark

1928-29                                                               Coach Harry Clark

1929-30   7-0-2 Undefeated Season            Coach Harry Clark

1930-31   4-3-2                                                  Coach Harry Clark

1931-32                                                               Coach Harry Clark

1932-33   4-3-1                                                  Coach Clyde McQueen

1933-34   5-2-2                                                  Coach Clyde McQueen

1934-35   6-3                                                      Coach Clyde McQueen

1935-36   5-3                                                      Coach Lynn Gibbs

1936-37   4-4                                                      Coach Lynn Gibbs

1937-40                                                               Coach Sam Blackwell

1940-41   4-3-1                                                  Coach Sam Blackwell

1941-42   4-3                                                      Coach Esau Dotlich

1942-43   5-3                                                      Coach Earl McLane

1943-44   5-2                                                      Coach Robert Ferguson

1944-45   6-2                                                      Coach Vincennes Bowers

1945-46   6-1-1                                                  Coach Jack Secord

1946-47   7-1-1                                                  Coach Bloice Bess

1947-48   6-1-1                                                  Coach Bloice Bess

1948-49                                                              Coach Joe Jobst

1949-50   8-1                                                     Coach Joe Jobst

1950-51                                                              Coach Tony Komlanc

1951-52                                                              Coach Jack Trebbe

1952-53   6-2-1                                                 Coach Jack Trebbe

1953-54   5-3-1                                                 Coach Dean Poling

1954-55   5-2-2                                                 Coach Jack Trebbe

1955-56   6-1-2                                                 Coach Milton Kadlec

1956-57   7-2                                                     Coach Milton Kadlec

1957-58   9-0   Undefeated/Untied Season Coach Milton Kadlec

1958-59                                                              Coach Milton Kadlec

1959-60   6-1-1                                                 Coach Ken Kuester

1960-61   3-3-2                                                 Coach Ken Kuester

1961-63                                                              Coach Ken Kuester

1963-64                                                              Coach Gene Cwick

1964-65   6-3                                                     Coach Gene Cwick

1965-66   6-2-1                                                 Coach Robert Johnson

1966-67   5-4                                                     Coach Robert Johnson

1967-68                                                              Coach Tom McGhee

1968-69   7-2                                                     Coach Tom McGhee

1969-70   6-2-1                                                 Coach Mike Watson

1970-71   6-3                                                     Coach Sam Wadsworth

1971-72   6-2                                                     Coach Sam Wadsworth

1972-73   6-3                                                     Coach Sam Wadsworth

1973-74   8-1                                                     Coach Sam Wadsworth

1974-77                                                              Coach Sam Wadsworth

1977-78                                                              Coach Wes Rayner

1978-79   5-4                                                     Coach Wes Rayner

1979-80                                                              Coach Wes Rayner

1980-81   5-4                                                     Coach Wes Rayner

1981-82 10-1 Team Qualified for Class 2A Playoffs Coach Wes Rayner

                                 Undefeated Regular Season

                                 Elite 8 Finalist

                                 Beat Williamsville 25-14

                                 Lost to Danville Schlarman 22-8

Schlarman eventual State Champs

1982-83   5-4                                                     Coach Wes Rayner

1983-84                                                              Coach Marc Hummel

1984-85   7-4 Class 2A State Qualifier       Coach Dwight Unzicker

                                 Elite 8 Finalist 

                                 Beat Dwight 17-14

                                 Lost to Paxton 25-0

Paxton Eventual State Runner-up

1985-88                                                               Coach Dwight Unzicker

1988-89                                                               Coach Mike Souhrada

1989-90   5-4                                                      Coach Mike Souhrada

1990-91   9-3 Class 1A Playoff Qualifier     Coach Mike Souhrada

                                  Elite 8 Finalist

                                  Beat Chenoa 20-15

                                  Beat Lexington 31-28

                                  Lost to Bloomington Cent. Cath. 17-6

B.C.C State Runner-up

1991-92  10-3 Class 1A Playoff Qualifier    Coach Mike Souhrada

                                  Final Four Finalist

                                  Beat Kewanee Wethersfield  28-6

                                  Beat Oneida ROWVA 28-21

                                  Beat Gridley 3-0

                                  Lost to Stockton 20-0

Stockton eventual State Champs

1992-93                                                               Coach Mike Souhrada
1993-94   6-4 Class 1A Playoff Qualifier     Coach Mike Souhrada

                                   Lost to Cerro Gordo 41-14

1994-95   6-4 Class 1A Playoff Qualifier     Coach Mike Souhrada

                                   Lost to Franklin Center 20-0

1995-96   7-3 Class 1A Playoff Qualifier     Coach Mike Souhrada

                                   Lost to Chenoa 12-7

1996-97  10-2 Class 1A Playoff Qualifier    Coach Mike Souhrada

                                   Elite 8 Finalist

                                   Beat Gilman Iroquois West 46-6

                                   Beat Toulon Stark County 40-18

                                   Lost to Chenoa 24-12

Chenoa eventual State Champs
1997-98   7-3 Class 1A Playoff Qualifier     Coach Mike Souhrada

                                    Lost to Arcola 28-20

1998-99  10-1 Class 1A Playoff Qualifier    Coach Mike Souhrada

                                    Undefeated Regular Season

                                    Sweet 16 Finalist          

                                    Beat Jacksonville ISD 41-16

                                    Lost to Poplar Grove North Boone 20-6

1999-00  10-1 Class 1A Playoff Qualifier    Coach Mike Souhrada

                                    Undefeated Regular Season

                                    Sweet 16 Finalist

                                    Beat Arthur 37-19

                                    Lost to Dakota 13-7
2000-01   8-3 Class 1A Playoff Qualifier     Coach Mike Souhrada

                                     Sweet 16 Finalist

                                     Beat Virden 13-9

                                     Lost to East Dubuque 41-14

2001-02   8-2 Class 2A Playoff Qualifier     Coach Mike Souhrada

                                     Lost to Argenta-Oreana 33-20 
2002-03  13-1 CLASS 1A STATE RUNNER-UP!!      Coach Mike Souhrada

                                     Undefeated Regular Season

                                     State Championship Game Finalist

                                     Beat Lewistown 64-0

                                     Beat Bismarck-Henning 28-3

                                     Beat LeRoy 40-6

                                     Beat Cerro Gordo 12-10

                                     Lost to South Beloit 50-22

2003-04   7-4 Class 2A Playoff Qualifier     Coach Mike Souhrada

                                     Sweet 16 Finalist 

                                     Beat Poplar Grove North Boone 35-34

                                     Lost to Sterling Newman 35-0

School’s Final Solo Season

More El Paso Football Facts from Merlin Haas!

Most Wins as Head Coach

124—Mike Souhrada (1988-2003) 124-48-0

63—Harry M. Clark (1919-1931) 63-40-9

Longest Rivalries

88 years vs. Flanagan (first game: October 9, 1915/last game: October 24, 2003–57 games) El Paso led the series 37-17-3.

87 years vs. LeRoy (first game: October 2nd, 1915/last game: November 16, 2002—42 games) El Paso led the series 22-18-2.

79 years vs. Eureka (first game: November 13th, 1915/last game: August 26, 1994—75 games) El Paso led the series 37-32-6.

Consecutive Years Playing Against An Opponent

62—Chenoa (1939-2000)

57—Minonk/Minonk-Dana/Minonk-Dana-Rutland/Fieldcrest (1947-2003)

55—Lexington (1944-1998)

Best Season Records (by win-loss percentages)

1.000 9-0    1957

1.000 7-0-2 1929

.929 13-1-0 2002

.909 10-1-0 1981

.909 10-1-0 1998

.909 10-1-0 1999

.889   8-1-0 1949

.889   8-1-0 1973

.875   7-1-1 1946

.857   6-1-1 1945

.857   6-1-1 1947

.857   6-1-1 1959

.857   6-1-2 1955

Largest Winning Margins

97-0 vs. Fairbury, 10-29-1920

95-0 vs. Gridley, 11-28-1929

74-0 vs. Wenona, 10-27-1922


Touchdown Run 94 yds—Oren Lane vs. Herscher, 1937

Touchdown Pass 76 yds—Bob Pierce to Jim McHugh vs. Dee-Mack, 1956

Punt Return 80 yds—Emerson Risser vs. Normal, 1920;

                                      Gary Raymer vs. Farmer City, 1972;

                                      Brett Tennison vs. Kewanee Wethersfield, 1991

Kickoff Return 97 yds—Allan Campbell vs. Washington, 1939

Pass Interception 100 yds—Larry Knapp vs. Lexington. 1964

                                                   Landis Loewen vs. Chenoa, 1981

Fumble Return 99 yds—Virgil Gordon vs. Eureka, 1915

Longest Field Goal 36 yds—Clint Kirkpatrick vs. Gridley, 1991


291—Joe Hankey vs. Gridley, 1931

254—Tony Haas vs. Minonk-Dana-Rutland, 1973 (16 att)

245—Tony Haas vs. Chenoa, 1973 (16 att)

245—Ron Ales vs. Deer Creek-Mackinaw, 1978 (13 att)


2,105—Derek Hunsinger, 2002 (288 att)

1,749—Brett Tennison, 1991 (325 att)

1,623—Andy Van Scyoc, 1996 (201 att)


3,661—Derek Hunsinger, 2000-02 (528 att)

2,755—Adam Mool, 1992-94 (438 att)

2,569—Brett Tennison, 1989-91 (456 att)


328—Scott Reid vs. Streator Woodland, 9/22/2000 (10/16, 1 int.)

266—Tom Harvey vs. Chenoa, 1964 (12/23)

260—Monte Lindsey vs. Washington, 1944 (10/15)


1,571—Brad Bouris, 1996 (101/177, 4 INT, 14 TD)

1,455—Scott Reid, 2000 (84/180, 10 INT, 19 TD)

1,394—Brad Bouris, 1997 (105/182, 0 INT, 16 TD)


3,840—Brad Bouris, 1995-97 (290/525, 12 INT, 35 TD)

3,176—Scott Reid, 1997-2000 (178/381. 24 INT, 36 TD)

2,194—Stephen Rigsby, 1992-93 (147/347, 19 INT, 23 TD)


176 yds—Jake Cox vs. Minonk Fieldcrest, 8/30/1996 (8 REC, 2 TD)

167 yds—Josh Uphoff vs. Chenoa, 8/29/1997 (10 REC., 2 TD)

161 yds—Steve Young vs. Deer Creek-Mackinaw, 1974 (7 REC, 1 TD)

161 yds—Dave Feeney vs. LeRoy, 1993 (6 REC, 2 TD)


990 yds—Jake Cox. 1996 (50 REC, 12 TD)

688 yds—Dave Feeney, 1993 (30 REC, 8 TD)

671 yds—Josh Uphoff, 1997 (50 REC, 8 TD)


1,628 yds—Chris Carr 2000-02 (82 REC. 19 TD)

1,029 yds—Dave Feeney 1992-94 (54 REC, 14 TD)

999 yds—Jake Cox 1995-96 (51 REC, 12 TD)


194—Derek Hunsinger, 2002 (32 TD, 1 2-pt PAT)

182—Tony Haas, 1973 (29 TD, 4 2-pt PAT)

181—Jesse Smith, 2003 (22 TD, 45 1-pt PAT, 2 2-pt PAT)


305—Joe Roberts, 1919-22

286—Derek Hunsinger, 2000-02

254—Jesse Smith, 2001-03

Extra Tidbits About the Comet Football Program

Three-time all-Mid State Conference selections

John Armstrong 1962 (LB), 1963 (RB), 1964 (RB)

Jacon Allen 1990 (as RB, LB, and K)

Dan Salyards 1960 (OT), 1961 (OT & LB)

Dallas (Chip) Schuler 1963 (LB), 1965 (C & LB)

Bob Hunsinger 1968 (OG), 1969 (OG & DG)

Keith Mool 1972 (OG), 1973 (OG & LB)

Ken Mool 1972 (DE), 1973 (DE & OG)

Trent Wilkey 1979 (DL), 1980 (OT & DT)

Brent Kelly 1981 (OB & LB), 1982 (LB)

Adam Mool 1993 (RB & LB), 1994 (RB)

Wes Hedges 1995 (OG), 1996 (OG & LB)

Two-time two-way all-conference picks

Tom Harvey 1964 (QB & DB)-1965 (RB & DB)

Dave Armstrong 1970-71 (OT & DT both years)

Dane Simpson 1997-98 (OT & DT both years)

Other notes: Four Comets that were named all-conference also led the

Mid-State in scoring during the year they were chosen.

John Armstrong did so with 60 points in 1963, Tom Harvey had 78 points in 1964, Tony Haas set what might have been the conference record in 1973 with 134 points, and Heath Kilpatrick with 68 markers in 1989.

Boys Basketball – 1957-58
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Boys Basketball

The following information regarding the El Paso Comets boys basketball program was provided by Merlin Haas:

The first mention of an El Paso High School boys’ basketball team came in November, 1905 when the El Paso paper stated, “The El Paso high school team defeated Wenona in a game of basketball on the grounds here Thursday by a score of 12-10.” It is not known whether the game was played indoors or outside.

The first known El Paso High School team with a regular schedule was the 1912-13 season. The teams played in various locations prior to World War I and under conditions that would amaze modern players. Some floors had low ceilings or posts in the middle of the playing floor and there is a report of a player having to leave a game with burns after failing against a stove use to heat the building. The lack of any playing floor at all caused the sport to be dropped for five years after 1915-16.

The current El Paso-Gridley High School building was completed in 1921 and included what was then a state-of-the-art gymnasium. The first game in the high school gym was played on December 16, 1921, and was a 22-11 loss to Chenoa. This gym was used for the next 36 seasons, though it became inadequate for the faster game that attracted more fans (there was some talk of a new gym as early as 1940). The final game in the high school gym was February 25, 1958, but was continued to be used for physical education classes and wrestling practice and meets until 2002, when it was converted into a computer lab.

The first game in the Centennial School Gym was November 21, 1958 and that team celebrated their new playing quarters by winning the first nine games played there. The first boys’ game in the Comet Center (the current home of El Paso-Gridley basketball) was December 10, 2002, as the Comets downed Eureka 54-38.

From 1912-13 through 2003-04, El Paso won 1,013 games and lost 1,009 (a winning percentage of .501). They had a 489-340 record in home games at the old high school gym (1921-58; 177-160), Centennial Gym (1958-2002; 280-165), and Comet Center (2002-04; 14-11); 19-4 on other home floors prior to 1920, and 529-669 on the road.


187—Dave Ferrenburg, 1992-93 thru 2002-03 (187-103)

164—Dave Orr, 1980-81 thru 1990-91 (164-111)

108—Bruce Murphy, 1956-57 thru 1963-64 (108-85)


.889 24-3 1985-86

.857 24-4 2000-01

.840 21-4 1989-90

.840 21-4 1990-91

.808 21-5 1984-85

.808 21-5 1945-46

.800 24-6 1999-2000

.800 20-5 1986-87

.800 20-5 1994-95

.792 19-5 1971-72

.739 17-6 1965-66

.724 21-8 1940-41

.720 18-7 1929-30

.714 20-8 1958-59

.714 20-8 1997-98

.704 19-8 2002-03

.690 20-9 1934-35





104 at Chenoa, 2/25/1967

103 at Gridley, 2/9/1979

102 vs. Streator Woodland, 12/9/1966

99 vs. Lexington, 2/13/1979


67 (74- 7) vs. Secor, 2/1/1930

64 (76-12) vs. Roanoke, 12/12/1913

61 (84-23) vs. Farmer City (Moore), 2/6/1914


38—Vincent Sutton, vs. Roanoke, 12/12/1913

38—Larry Wadsworth, vs. Chenoa, 12/6/1974

38—Greg Strum, vs. Lexington, 2/13/1979

38—Gabriel Saldana, vs. Tremont, 1/9/1996

37—B.J. Faulk, vs. Lowpoint-Washburn, 12/3/1988


22—Larry Wadsworth, vs. Chenoa, 12/6/1974

22—Gabriel Saldana, vs. Roanoke-Benson, 11/28/1995

21—Ken Dressler, vs. Cornell, 12/5/1969

21—Jake Cox, vs. Minonk Fieldcrest, 2/3/1997


12—Dan Pinkham, vs. Flanagan, 1/21/1986

12—Erik Hinthorne, vs. Roanoke-Benson, 1/13/1990


24.4—Joe Baker, 1971-72

23.8—Jon Etcheson, 1966-67

21.3—Scott Sennott, 1980-81

21.2—Larry Wadsworth, 1974-75


12.6—Joe Baker, 1971-72

12.1—Gabriel Saldana, 1995-96


1,695—Phil Uphoff (last season: 2001)

1,609—Greg Sturm (1979)

1,563—B.J. Faulk (1991)

1,296—Tom Kearfott (1979)

1,284—Larry Wadsworth (1975)

1,213—Jon Etcheson (1967)

1,142—Dave Feeney (1995)

1,084—Bill Colburn (1957—minus 4 games)

1,073—Brian Uphoff (2003)

1,060—Joe Baker (1972)—minus 2 games)

1,001—Curt Hocker (2003)


861—Phil Uphoff (last season: 2001)

837—B.J. Faulk (1991)


271—John Garrett (last season: 1991)

265—Mike Carley (1987)

More on El Paso Basketball

El Paso won at least 10 Mid-State Conference season titles, starting with the 1965-66 season at 17-6 overall and 13-1 in conference play under coach Woody Burnell. The next season, Russell Sullivan took over as head coach and produced another conference champ as the 1966-67 team was 15-8 overall, and again went 13-1 in the Mid-State. Bill Wolf succeeded Sullivan and produced back-to-back conference titlists in 1969-70 and 1970-71, going 9-13 (9-5, tied with Lexington at the top) and 19-5 (12-2), respectively.

It would be another 15 years before the conference title came back to El Paso, as Dave Orr’s Comets were 24-3 overall, 12-2 in the Mid-State for the top spot in 1985-86. Orr, the son of coach Paul Orr from McLean County (Anchor and Colfax Octavia were two places that the senior Orr coached at, and have more information about him on this site), brought his team back to the top of the list three more times in 1986-87 (20-5/12-2), 1989-90 (21-4/12-2), and 1990-91 (21-4/13-1) before he gave up the head coaching position.

Dave Ferrenburg won two more conference titles in 1994-95 (20-5/13-1) and 1998-99 (16-10/10-1) as the Comet hoopsters continued to roll towards the 21st Century.

Three-time all-Mid State Conference selections

Larry Wadsworth 1973-74-75

Greg Sturm 1977-78-79

B.J. Faulk 1989-90-91

Dave Feeney 1993-94-95

Five Comet players were toward the top of the conference scoring charts in years that they were named to the all-Mid State teams.

Alan LaRochelle was the first in 1960-61, scoring at 16.3. Matt Carley led the conference scoring parade at 19.4 in 1986-87, and his brother Mike was second that year at 18.5. Two seasons later, sophomore B.J. Faulk led the Mid State at 17.7 a game, while teammate Quint Stimpert was second at 17.3.

**Research from Mark Jurenga reveals the following successes were attained by the El Paso Comets at the Bloomington-Normal State Farm Holiday Classic Tournament:

1990 Grand Championship – Sherrard 72 El Paso 60

1999 Grand Championship – South Holland (Thornwood) 55 El Paso 38

Tournament Records

Fewest Points Half, Both Teams (Class A): 26, Cissna Park 18 El Paso 8, 1995.

Fewest Points Game, Both Team (Class A): 59, Cissna Park 35 El Paso 24, 1995


1990 B.J. Faulk, Erik Hinthorne

2002 (Class A) Brian Uphoff


El Paso made its mark on the ovals within Central Illinois, especially in the Mid State Conference. The Comets won the conference meet 15 times, while having three second-place finishes before the conference meet was discontinued after 1987.

1960  2nd–39.67 pts         Coach Bruce Murphy

1961  1st–59 pts               Coach Bruce Murphy

1967  1st–71 pts               Coach Bob Stoeffler
1969  1st–49.5 pts            Coach John McIntyre

1970  2nd–49 pts              Coach unknown

1971  1st–56 pts               Coach Bill Wolf

1972  2nd–44 pts              Coach unknown

1976  1st–66.5 pts            Coach Jeff Stollberg
1977  1st–69 pts               Coach Jeff Stollberg
1978  1st–75 pts               Coach Wes Rayner
1979  1st–73 pts               Coach Wes Rayner
1980  1st–79 pts               Coach Wes Rayner
1981  1st–72 pts               Coach Wes Rayner
1982  1st–94 pts               Coach Wes Rayner
1984  1st–92 pts               Coach Steve Schroeder
1985  1st–100.5 pts          Coach Steve Schroeder
1986  1st–89 pts               Coach Steve Schroeder
1987  1st–87 pts               Coach Steve Schroeder

Three-time all conference champs

Ron Ales–100 yard dash 1977-78-79

Dennis Ludwig–120 yard high hurdles 1977-78-79

Landis Loewen–both the long jump & triple jump in 1980-81-82

Dennis Lay–triple jump in 1976, triple jump and long jump in 1977

Tony Haas–long jump in 1973, 220 yard dash and 330 yard low hurdles in 1974

Brian Parkhouse—pole vault in 1986, pole vault along w/110 meter high hurdles and 300 meter low hurdles in 1987.

NOTE: In addition to winning the 100-yard dash three straight years, Ales was part of the winning 440-yard relay in 1976-77-78-79, and Loewen was part of the lineup on six different winning relays between 1979-82.

Other Track & Field Notables:

Frank Vogel — Conference Champ – Mile Run – 1957 – time of 4:52.8 remained a school record until metric system implemented in 1980!

The Comet track program also came away from the state track meet around the World War I era with three top-10 finishes at the IHSA State Track Meet!!.

According to the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org), El Paso was fourth in 1915, ninth in 1919, and fourth again in 1920.

1915 Team was 4th in Class B standings

Joe Baker–STATE CHAMPION (both shotput and discus)
1919 Team was 9th in Class B standings
Fred Aubrey–3rd in 880 run
Don Cash Seaton–2nd in 220 hurdles

                                       4th in long jump and 440 dash
1920 Team was 4th in Class B standings
Don Cash Seaton—STATE CHAMPION (220 hurdles)
2nd in 100 yard dash

880 yard relay—2nd in finals

Noel Gordon–4th in 50-yard dash
1921  Noel Gordon–2nd in 50-yard dash in Class B finals
1975  Larry Shepherd–8th in long jump in Class A finals
880-yard relay–8th in finals
1976  Dennis Lay–6th in Class A triple jump finals
1977  Dennis Lay–6th in Class A high jump finals
1980  Marty Heller–4th in Class A 300-meter low hurdles
1986  3200-meter relay–7th in Class A finals
Kevin Clements–6th in Class A high jump
1987  Kevin Clements–STATE CHAMPION (Class A high jump)
1988  Kevin Clements–STATE CHAMPION (Class A high jump)
1990  B.J. Faulk–6th in Class A discus
1991  B.J. Faulk–6th in Class A shotput
7th in Class A discus
2004  Luke Carr–9th in Class A high jump


The Comet baseball program existed to the point that it played some games in the spring between 1949-67, then dropped it until 1989 when it resumed as a spring sport. El Paso won three conference titles in the Mid State, with four second place finishes.

1951     3- 3                                                      Coach unknown

1957     3- 1 (2nd place in conference)       Coach unknown

1958     4- 0 (Conference champs)            Coach Milt Kadlec
1959     5- 0 (Conference champs)            Coach Milt Kadlec

1961     3- 5 (2nd place in conference)       Coach unknown

1991   17-10 (2nd place in conference)     Coach unknown

1994   15-  7 (Conference champs)           Coach Mike Souhrada

1996   17-13 (2nd place in conference)     Coach Mike Souhrada

Brad Bouris was a three-time pick of the Mid State as a catcher in 1996-97-98.


The Lady Comets could play some hoops as well as the boys, winning the Mid State Conference titles 10 years and sharing it another, while winning five Class A regionals under Betsy Specketer and Linda Kelly before the merger with Gridley.

The Lady Comets can even trace their roots back to the early 1930s! The IHSA at one time held a “Postal Tournament” for girls basketball. This was a shooting contest held at each school with the results mailed in to the IHSA. The Lady Comets of 1931 finished 3RD in the State behind Elgin and Freeport!

1981-82  14-9   Regional Champions               Coach Betsy Specketer

3rd in Mid State Conference (9-5)

1982-83  22-3   Regional Champions              Coach Betsy Specketer

Mid State Champions (13-1)

1983-84  22-5   Mid State Champions (11-1)  Coach Betsy Specketer

1984-85  21-3   Mid State Champions (14-0)  Coach Betsy Specketer

1985-86  18-6   Mid State Champions (13-1, tie) Coach Betsy Specketer

1986-87  23-3   Mid State Champions (10-0)  Coach Linda Kelly

1987-88  16-8   Mid State Champions (6-2)    Coach Linda Kelly

1988-89  23-4   Mid State Champions (12-0)  Coach Linda Kelly

1989-90  17-7   Mid State Champions (11-1)  Coach Linda Kelly

1990-91  19-7   Mid State Champions (12-0)  Coach Linda Kelly

1991-92  12-12  3rd in Mid State Conference (8-4) Coach Linda Kelly

1992-93  18-6   Mid State Champions (11-0)  Coach Linda Kelly

1993-94  16-8   Mid State Champions (11-1)  Coach Linda Kelly

1994-95  22-4   Regional Champions               Coach Linda Kelly

2nd in Mid State Conference (14-2)

1995-96  20-5   Regional Champions               Coach Linda Kelly

2nd in Mid State Conference (14-2)

1996-97  20-5   Regional Champions               Coach Linda Kelly

2nd in Mid State Conference (14-2)

1997-98  23-5   2nd in Mid State Conference (9-1) Coach Linda Kelly

1998-98  15-11 3rd in Mid State Conference (7-3)  Coach Linda Kelly

Three- and Four-Time All Conference picks

Amy Heller 1983-84-85

Sherri Stiles 1985-86-87

Lesley Stone 1988-89-90

Cindy Uphoff 1995-96-97-98 (last three years were unanimous)

Becca Hartke 1997-98-99

Leading scorers in conference play—Steph Aeschliman 23.0 in 1982-83 (believed to be a Mid State Conference record for scoring average) and Jackie Weber 13.7 in 1989-90.

**The El Paso Lady Comets sported an *8-9 record in five years at Bloomington-Normal Holiday Tournament Classic (1997-2001).  In addition Cindy Uphoff was named to the All-Tournament team in Class ‘A’ for 1997!



The Lady Comets were also successful in track, racking up four consecutive Mid State Conference meet titles and one second place finish before that meet was discontinued. Coaches Wes Rayner and Betsy Specketer helped lead these teams to the top of the Mid State, plus helped send representatives to the state Class A meet that placed at the finals.

1982  68.5 pts–Mid State Conference Champs     Coaches Wes Rayner & Betsy Specketer

800 meter Medley relay—7th in Class A Finals

1983 80.0 pts–Mid State Conference Champs      Coach Betsy Specketer

                       800 meter Medley relay—8th in Class A Finals

1984 91.5 pts–Mid State Conference Champs      Coach Betsy Specketer

                      800 meter Medley relay—8th in Class A Finals

1985 90.0 pts–Mid State Conference Champs      Coach Betsy Specketer

                      1600 meter relay—5th in Class A Finals

                      Laura Dukes—6th in Class A long jump

1986 68.0 pts–2nd in Mid State Conference          Coach Betsy Specketer

1990 Lesley Stone—8th in Class A long jump

1995 Stephanie Schuler-4th in Class A long jump (as member of Lexington-El Paso co-op)

1996 Stephanie Schuler-tied for 4th in Class A long jump (as member of Lexington-El Paso co-op)

1999 Jennifer Cox—6th in Class A 1600 run

2000 Jennifer Cox—5th in Class A 800 run

Three- and four-time event winners in Mid State Conference meets

Kami Bergquist—3200 run/1983-84-85-86

Sheila Jones–800 run/1982-83-85

Jodi DeKeyser—Shotput/1981-82-83



Even though they never won a conference title, El Paso had a very competitive team that won one regional before its consolidation with Gridley in 2004.

1984  10-10    3rd in Mid State Conference standings (4-3)    Coach unknown

1985  12- 9     5-2 in Mid State Conference—good record!      Coach unknown

1995  19- 9     Won conference tournament consolation title  Coach unknown

                          Tied for 4th place in final conference standings at 6-3

1996  16-14    4th in conference tournament                            Coach unknown

                          4th in conference standings at 6-3

1997  19-10   3rd in conference tournament                            Coach unknown

                         Tied for 2nd in conference standings at 9-2

1998  20-11   3rd in conference tournament                           Coach unknown

                         4th in conference standings at 8-3


El Paso – Gridley High School
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The Comet matmen were successful under coach Steve Schroeder, winning two individual weight class titles at the state tournament, and two more before the merger with Gridley. As a team, El Paso had five winning seasons under Schroeder in the 1980’s.

1978-79 Brian Martin–3rd place (105 lbs)                     Coach JIm Cozzolino

1979-80 Matt Haas–STATE CHAMPION (112 lbs)         Coach Steve Schroeder

1980-81 16-4 Joe Franzen–2nd place (105 lbs)           Coach Steve Schroeder

1981-82 17-2 Joe Franzen–STATE CHAMPION (112 lbs) Coach Steve Schroeder

1982-83 20-2  Nice Record!                                               Coach Steve Schroeder

1984-85 Brian Copple—3rd place (185 lbs)                  Coach Steve Schroeder

1985-86 11-6                                                                        Coach Steve Schroeder

1987-88 17-6                                                                        Coach Steve Schroeder

1993-94 Jim Alexander–STATE CHAMPION (189 lbs) Coach Marty Dimas

1994-95 Pete Cleary–3rd place (145 lbs)                     Coach Marty Dimas

1997-98 Scott Gentes–3rd place (145 lbs)                   Coach unknown

                 Paul Cleary–2nd place (152 lbs)

1998-99 Paul Cleary–2nd place (160 lbs)                     Coach unknown

1999-00 Albert Schmidt–4th place (275 lbs)               Coach unknown

2000-01 Albert Schmidt–4th place (275 lbs)               Coach unknown

            Derek Hunsinger–3rd place (160 lbs)

2001-02 Derek Hunsinger–STATE CHAMPION (171 lbs) Coach unknown

2002-03 Derek Hunsinger–STATE CHAMPION (189 lbs) Coach unknown



El Paso started its softball program in 1990, several years after a majority of the Mid State schools began playing. The Lady Comets may not have won any conference hardware, but were competitive in the spring.

1990             First season                                                    Coach unknown

1991 10-10      8- 5 in conference play (finished 4th)    Coach unknown

Cathy Pevely was a three-time all conference selection from El Paso in 1993-94-95.


The Comets had the knowledge to compete and win at least one conference Scholastic Bowl. Coach Wendy Hagen’s brainiacs were Mid State Conference champions during the 1994-95 school year.


Talk about a school that was consistently placing among the state’s best in its own class…El Paso was a Class C school (enrollments around 300-600) and placed in the top 10 each year between 1997 and 2004, including three consecutive second place finishes to Forreston each time out.

1997 4th in state Class C Music Sweepstakes–501 pts

1998 6th in state Class C Music Sweepstakes–486 pts

1999 8th in state Class C Music Sweepstakes–427.5 pts

2000 5th in state Class C Music Sweepstakes–565.5 pts




2004 5th in state Class C Music Sweepstakes–523.5 pts



Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979) was born in El Paso, later moving to Peoria at age five. From there, he would become a Roman Catholic priest, and later the host of the radio program “The Catholic Hour” in the 1930’s. The show became popular in the 1950’s when it aired in prime time under the name “Life Is Worth Living.” Sheen had such a profound effect on Americans that he is currently being considered for sainthood in the Catholic Church. More about his life can be found by clicking on the following link: http://www.elpaso.net/~bank/elpasohistory/sheen/


…to Merlin Haas in helping us compile the information on this page about his alma mater. Merlin has served as an athlete, coach, statistician, and historian for El Paso HS, and we are grateful for finding such a resourceful person such as Merlin as we put this entry together.


..so, if you have more information about the history of El Paso, the school or any of its sports/scholastic bowl/music, or any extracurricular activity that was offered at El Paso, let us know. Send us your information (pictures are welcome, too) at dr.veeman@gmail.com by writing to us at the address listed below. We want to make this complete as possible.

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva

Chicago, Il. 60631

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