Kankakee St. Patrick High School “Irish”

Kankakee St. Patrick High School 1930 Yearbook
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Submitted by Sherree Benoit
Kankakee St. Patrick High School Building
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Submitted by Sherree Benoit

The History of Kankakee St. Patrick High School

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 1900, Kankakee had a population of 13,500, which was 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: Illinois Central Gulf, the KBSR, and the CR.

St. Patrick’s High School opened for business in 1922, as a result for the need to offer a parochial high school in the Kankakee area. St. Viator College in nearby Bourbonnais was formed in 1860 by the Viatorian order, whose main concern was to educate. The college was still open until 1938 before it closed, but St. Patrick’s continued to educate the Catholic youth of the Kankakee area.

The school was also known as St. Patrick Central from 1955 until 1964, when the name was changed Bishop McNamara High School in honor of the first Bishop of the Joliet Diocese, Martin D. McNamara.


Year opened:                                              1922

Year name changed to St. Patrick Central:    1955

Year name changed to Bishop McNamara:    1964

School colors:                                             Green, Gold, & White

School nickname:                                        “Irish”

School song:                                               unknown


It is known that St. Patrick’s offered football and basketball, and could have possibly offered baseball as well as track, but only football and basketball records are available thru the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org). In addition, this author would like to believe that there were other extracurricular activities offered outside of athletics, such as band, chorus, and other clubs. Anyone who has information is encouraged to contact us at the addresses listed below.

St. Patrick High School Football Team of 1945-46
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Submitted by Sherree Benoit


The Irish did not begin to take to the gridiron until 1932 and started slow with only two winning seasons in the first ten. The school did not field a team for three years during World War II, and after that, St. Patrick’s would begin the winning tradition that still continues today at Bishop McNamara. The Irish were members of the Kankakee Valley and Wil-Ro-Kee Conferences that won five league championships and took second on four occasions. Members of those leagues included Reddick, Crete-Monee, St. Anne, Clifton Central, Gilman, Momence, and Bradley-Bourbonnais.

1932   1- 4- 1  First season                         Coach Clarence “Puff” Romary

1934   6- 1                                                 Coach Clarence “Puff” Romary

1937                                                          Coach Pete Laffey

1939   4- 3                                                  Coach Bill Walsh

1940                                                          Coach Bud Monohan

1941                                                          Coach Russ Ahearn

1945   5- 2- 1                                              Coach Fr. George Nelsen

1947   5- 3      2nd place–KKK Valley Conf.  Coach Bud Monohan

1950   5- 2      2nd place–KKK Valley Conf.  Coach Pete Laffey

1951   7- 2      2nd place–KKK Valley Conf.  Coach Pete Laffey

1952   8- 1      2nd place–KKK Valley Conf.  Coach Pete Laffey

1953   6- 2                                                  Coach Pete Laffey

1955 St. Patrick Football Team
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First undefeated team (7-0-1) in school history

1955   7- 0- 1  Wil-Ro-Kee Conf. Champs   

                      Coach Earl Benoche

                       Season results:

St. Patrick 13, Oak Lawn 7

St. Patrick 13, Crete-Monee 7

St. Patrick 13, St. Anne 7

St. Patrick 13, Bradley-Bourbonnais 7

St. Patrick 7, Gilman 0

St. Patrick 20, Morris 6

St. Patrick 26, Momence 13

St. Patrick 6, Clifton Central 6

1956   6- 2      Wil-Ro-Kee Conf. Champs   Coach Frank Chiodo

1957   8- 0      Wil-Ro-Kee Conf. Champs   Coach Frank Chiodo

                       Season results:

St. Patrick 31, Evergreen Park 0

St. Patrick 27, Clifton Central 6

St. Patrick 33, Crete-Monee 7

St. Patrick 33, St. Anne 6

St. Patrick 19, Bradley-Bourbonnais 12

St. Patrick 34, Sheridan 7

St. Patrick 36, Momence 6

St. Patrick 44, Gilman 7

1958   7- 1      2nd place–Wil-Ro-Kee Conf.   Coach Frank Chiodo

1959   6- 2      2nd place–Wil-Ro-Kee Conf.   Coach Frank Chiodo

1960   6- 1- 2  KKK Valley Conf. Champs    Coach Frank Chiodo

1961   5- 3                                                  Coach Frank Chiodo

1962   5- 1- 2  KKK Valley Conf. Champs    Coach Frank Chiodo

1963   7- 1      KKK Valley Conf. Champs    Coach Carl Magsamen

1963 football team (7-1)
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Last one known as St. Patrick Central

Running back John Monahan was the only gridder from St. Patrick to be named All-State, doing so in the 1960 season. Another running back, Dick Franz, set the school record for rushing yards in a single game with 244 against Evergreen Park in 1957, on the way to a St. Patrick’s single-season rushing total of 1,179. Also, Issac Porter returned a punt 99 yards against Morris in 1955.


The Irish also showed their competitive spirit on the basketball floor, winning four regional titles over an eight-year period. Unfortunately, names of head coaches and win-loss records are missing as well as information about other outstanding teams in school history.

St. Patrick Basketball Team of 1945-46
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Submitted Sherree Benoit
St. Patrick HS Irish Basketball Team of 1929-30
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Courtesy of Sherree Benoit

Boys Basketball Season Records

1929-30    10 – 5                                                        Coach Robert “Bob” Pombert 

1945-46    16 – 10                                                      Coach Father George Nelson

1953-54                  Regional Champions                 Coach unknown

1956-57                  Regional Champions                 Coach unknown

1958-59                  Regional Champions                 Coach unknown

1961-62                  Regional Champions                 Coach unknown

St. Patrick Baseball Team of 1929-30
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Submitted by Sherree Benoit


The boys competed in spring baseball during the 1929-30 school year as well.  The boys played against teams such as Bonfield, Irwin, Kankakee, St. George, Viator, Chebanse, Clifton, and others.  No record was available in the yearbook of 1930.  We know that the program continued for several more years before being stopped for three years during World War II.  It was resumed in 1945-46 and continued for the life of the school, even through the renaming of the school to Bishop McNamara.

St. Patrick Girls Basketball Team of 1929-30
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Courtesy of Sherree Benoit


The Irish, like many schools of the early 1930s, gave girls basketball a chance.  The photo to the right is of the team organized in the 1929-30 school year.  Games were said to have been contested against neighboring schools, Under the leadership of Coach Ruth Snyderjohn, the girls played “several games” and came out with only one loss.


Choral Club

St. Patrick High School was a well-rounded school with many activities to offer its students. The Choral Club was a choir which focused on adding to religious ceremonies and gave students a chance to study vocal programs if they were inclined to.  Boys and girls were welcome to try out for the club.


The band of 1946, led by Mr. Charles E. Granger, held two concerts, marched in several parades, participated in a music festival, and provided great spirit and games and other school events.  The band also performed at halftime of the home football games.  Majorettes were also a part of the band and added greatly to the group’s entertainment value.

The Irish Band of 1945-46
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Courtesy of Sherree Benoit
The Choral Club of 1929-30 – St. Patrick HS
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Submitted by Sherree Benoit


Pete Laffey–Had a win-loss record of 28-10-1 in five seasons. Between 1950-53, his Irish teams were 26-7 with three runner-up finishes in the Kankakee Valley Conference.

Earl Benoche—First coach to lead St. Patrick’s football an unbeaten season.

Frank Chiodo–Was 43-10-4 in seven years at the helm of the Irish, including five conference titles, and the first unbeaten and untied team in school history.

Russ Ahearn–Only spent one year at St. Patrick, but would later gain recognition as the coach of the 1951-52 prep basketball state champs at Alden-Hebron.


about the history of St. Patrick’s High School? Please contact us if you do by emailing your information and photos to ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net or by sending it thru the USPS at:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 N. Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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