Kankakee (population 27,491) is located in northeastern Illinois in central Kankakee County. It is the county seat of Kankakee County as well. The town was established in the mid-1800’s and prospered when the Illinois Central Railroad laid tracks through the area. By the year 1900, Kankakee had a population of 13,500, quite large for that time period. Kankakee is approximately 15 miles west of the Indiana state border. The following roadways now lead to and from this busy metropolis: Interstate Highway 57, U.S. Route 45, Illinois Routes 17, 50, 102, 113, and 115. The Kankakee River flows through the middle of town and is joined at some point by the following creeks that also flow through Kankakee: Gar Creek, Soldier Creek, and Baker Creek. Three railroads also lay tracks which pass through town: The Illinois Central Gulf, the KBSR, and the CR.
Kankakee students were served by just one high school, Kankakee High School, for over six decades. An ever-increasing population and constantly growing community boundries eventually forced the residents to form a new strategy for educating their children. The strategy was to build two newer high school buildings in town. The buildings would divide the high school students into two venues. Thus, in 1966, Kankakee Eastridge and Kankakee Westview were born.
Kankakee Eastridge served high school students in town for 17 years. The late 1970’s and early 1980’s brought with them decreasing enrollment and finanacial concerns. In 1983, it was determined that there was no longer a need for two high schools in Kankakee. Therefore, the decision was made to revert back to one high school. Kankakee Eastridge and Kankakee Westview were closed and Kankakee High School was re-established.
The Kankakee Eastridge High School high school building is still in use as a school in the Kankakee School District. It is the home of the Kankakee Junior High School.
Kankakee Eastridge High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1966
Year closed: 1983
Reverted to: Kankakee Senior High School
Eastridge HS team nickname: the “Raiders”
Eastridge HS team colors: Orange, Navy Blue, & White
Eastridge HS Fight Song: “Hail to the Orange, White, and Blue”
Written by Lloyd Higgerson, KEHS band director
Hail to the orange, white, and blue of Eastridge High
We love our school, fair play’s the rule
But with us it is due or die
We never falter or fail in our duty
Raise your banners high
And we will fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight
Because it’s all for old Eastridge High
Go Raiders, Fight, Fight, Fight
Go Raiders, Fight, Fight, Fight
Repeat the verse
(When the song ended the student body shouted);
Raiders, Raiders are the Best!
Thank you to John Saylor for providing the fight song of Kanakee Eastridge!!
The Kankakee Eastridge High School Raiders and Lady Raiders were successful on many fronts in IHSA competition. Several sports saw the athletic teams bring home hardware from IHSA tournament competition. Those sports mentioned on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org) are listed below. If you have any further information on these or other sports offered at KEHS, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eastridge and Westview were pretty competitive rivals in any sport. This bit of information was shared with us by an area fan:
“Kankakee Westview had a large “W” on top of the school which lit up when Westview won that night in sports. One autumn night, they beat Eastridge and when they got to school the following Monday, the “W” was laying in pieces on the ground. About 2 weeks later, Eastridge won a game. Eastridge had a big “E” on top of their school that lit up when they won in sports. When they got back to school that Monday, the “E” was turned to where it looked like the letter “W”.”
Another great tradition at KEHS was enjoyed during home football games. According to our friend “Aaron:” “The Eastridge Raiders were unique as like Florida State University…the Raiders of Eastridge had an Indian on horseback ride into the end zone after each Eastridge touchdown.” Aaron even remembers the Indian throwing a flaming arrow into the ground during this celebration!!
The boys baseball team at Kankakee Eastridge HS made two trips to the State Finals and won a total of four Regional titles and two Sectional titles. Team records are currently only available for the “State Qualifying” teams.
1968-69 Regional Champions
1970-71 19- 7 Regional Champions Coach Bill Enochs
Elite 8 Qualifier
Lost to Rockford West 1-0 (11 innings)
1971-72 23- 7 Regional Champions Coach Bill Enochs
Elite 8 Qualifier
Beat Chicago Lane Tech 1-0
Final Four Qualifier
Lost to Alton Sr. 5-4 (Alton finished 2nd)
1975-76 Regional Champions
The Eastridge Raiders made two appearances in the IHSA Sweet 16 during the one-class system in Illinois. Three Regional titles, two Sectional titles, and one District title hi-lighted the Raider hardwood court success.
1966-67 Coach Mick Pahl
1967-68 Coach Art Pahl
1968-69 17- 8 Coach Joe Gubbins
1969-70 Coach Joe Gubbins
1970-71 17-10 District Champions Coach Joe Gubbins
1971-72 24- 5 IHSA Tourney Sweet 16 Coach Joe Gubbins
Lost to Quincy Sr. 76-70 (Quincy finished second)
1972-76 Coach Joe Gubbins
1976-77 24- 6 IHSA Tourney Sweet 16 Coach Larry Hauser
Lost to Springfield Lanphier 64-47 (Lanphier finished second)
1977-78 15-11 Coach Larry Hauser
1978-79 19 – 7 Coach Larry Hauser
1979-80 26 – 3 Regional Champions Coach Larry Hauser
1980-81 12-12 Coach Larry Hauser
1981-82 Coach Ron Jones
1982-83 13-11 School’s Last Season Coach Ron Jones
The Lady Raiders had some success of their own. A Regional title was earned in the 1982-83 season. We are seeking the team record of this and other great Eastridge Lady Raider basketball teams…as well as the coach’s names.
1978-79 Coach Barbara Wray
1982-83 Regional Champions
The Raiders of the grid iron had some nice season records and made an appearance in the IHSA State Football Playoffs. Unfortunately the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org) only covers nine seasons and only three have winning records. The only coach listed is Craig Beverlin, who coached the playoff team of 1980-81. More records were recently researched and provided by Tom Sikorski of “Great Conferences” fame.
1966 4-5 First team Coach J.R. Black
First win in school history was 35-7 over Herscher
1968 4-3-2 Coach Bill Glazier
1969 7-2 Coach Bill Glazier
1970 6-2-1 Coach Bill Glazier
1971 6-3 Coach Bill Glazier
1972 6-3 Coach Bill Glazier
1974 2-7 Coach Bill Glazier
1976 5-4 2nd place (tie) SICA South Coach Brad Pancoast
1979 6-3 3rd place SICA South Coach Craig Beverlin
1980 7-3 IHSA Class 4A Playoff Qualifier Coach Craig Beverlin
Sweet 16 Finalist
Lost to Lisle Benet Academy 27-8
1982 4-5 Last team Coach Craig Beverlin
Last win in school history was 8-0 over Crete-Monee.
One male linkster placed in the top three in the individual standings in IHSA match play. His great accomplishment is listed below.
1970 Dan Decker 3RD Place in AA State Playoffs!
The Raiders were comfortable off of land in the water as well. Three individuals brought home a total of 8 medals from the IHSA State Swim Meet while as a team the Raiders earned three District titles and a top-ten finish!!
1975-76 Individual Medalist
Rusty Walker 200 Free 2ND Place
500 Free 5TH Place
1976-77 Team Earned a SEVENTH Place Finish at IHSA Class AA Finals
Team Won the District Championship
Rusty Walker 200 Free 2ND Place
100 Free 3RD Place
John Henry 100 Fly 5TH Place
Rick Walker 500 Free 5TH Place
1977-78 Individual Medalist
Rick Walker 200 IM 3RD Place
500 Free 4TH Place
The girls swim team saw one athlete win two medals. This is the only information we currently have regarding the Lady Raider swim team.
1979 Laurie Pederson 100 Free 3RD Place
50 Free 3RD Place
The boys tennis team of Kankakee Eastridge won a total of three District titles. All were won in the 1970’s.
1973 District Champions
1974 District Champions
1979 District Champions
In spite of having no individual medalist in the school’s history, Kankakee Eastridge’s girls tennis team still was able to garner three District titles and TWO TOP-TEN Finishes in State Meet Competition!!
1972 Team Finished SEVENTH in STATE MEET Competition
1973 District Champions
1974 Team Finished SEVENTH in STATE MEET Competition
1975 District Champions
Boys Track & Field
One relay team and one individual athlete earned medals at the IHSA State Class AA Track Meet.
1973 Estus Hood 120 Yard High Hurdles 6TH Place
180 Yard Hurdles 6TH Place
1980 Relay Team 4 X 400 Meter Relay 2ND Place
4 X 200 Meter Relay 4TH Place
Girls Track & Field
We know there was a Lady Raider thinclad team, however, we currently have no information available on their successes attained.
The grapplers of Eastricge High won a District title and had two individuals earn medals in State Meet Competition!! Curtis Hines was the coach of the Eastridge Wrestling Program from 1969-1974 and coached the team to its first wrestling team victory in school history. He also coached the team to the District championship in 1973.
1969-72 Coach Curtis Hines
1972-73 Team Crowned District Champions Coach Curtis Hines
1973-74 Coach Curtis Hines
1975-76 Jeff Gindy 185 Lbs. 3RD Place
1982-83 Jim Cooper 126 Lbs. 6TH Place
And here’s something else….the Raiders even had a hockey team! EHS grad Tim Wegner told Illinois High School Glory Days in February 2012: “we had a great hockey team in 1974 & 75. 1ST YEAR TEAM which I was GOALTENDER our record was 26-1 & 1. Not bad for a brand new team.” If anyone has any more information about this sport, please contact us.
The English Department
The academic department joined the State Competition Trophy parade too. The Drama Team of 1975-76 won a District title!!
*Gregory Kunde (Class of 1972) – Accomplished and well known tenor with world-wide acclaim. From his biography:
“Regarded as one of the most accomplished singers on the international opera stage today, the American tenor Gregory Kunde appears regularly at the most prestigious opera houses around the world, working with conductors and orchestras of the highest caliber. Kenge’s achievements have been recognized with a number of awards, most recently ‘Male Singer of the Year’ at the 2016 International Opera Awards.”
*Jeff Scott (Class of 1972) – another great athlete who played baseball and basketball in the early 70s. Jeff played baseball in the minor leagues for many years. From his biography:
*Estus Hood (Class of 1973) – probably the most notable athlete from Eastridge. He played football in the early seventies. Estus went on to star at Illinois State University and played several years for the Green Bay Packers. Hood is only one of three ISU football players that has had his jersey number (#8) retired.
*C. Michael Gibson (Class of 1978) – Dr. C. Michael Gibson, M.D serves as Chief of Clinical Research for Division of Cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Gibson has been Scientific and Clinical Advisors Board at Verseon Corporation since 2019. He is an interventional cardiologist and chief of clinical research in the division of cardiology at Harvard s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He serves as a Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. Mr. Gibson is also an accomplished and noted artist.
From Leola (Class of 1979):
“I attended Eastridge High School 1975-1979. My senior year I was on the girls basketball team. Our first team. The coach was Barbara Wray. My position was Forward. I have been trying to locate a yearbook for 1979. Is anyone able to assist me with that. Please email me with suggestions or if you need more information. Thanks.”
Need Your Help
We are hopeful an area “buff” will fill in the open areas regarding the history and accomplishments of Kankakee Eastridge High School. If you have any information you can offer please complete a Guest Commentary Form. We would really like to share a photo of the old school building and tell more about the students of the Eastridge High School’s historic past. You can e-mail your photos to us at email@example.com or write to us at: