Leaf River, Illinois (population 555) is located on Illinois Route 72 between Forreston and Byron in Ogle County. It was established in 1882. The name comes after the nearby river of the same name. The river was the main source for transportation in the town’s early years, although it is only about 15 feet wide as a tributary river from the Rock River. A unique thing about Leaf River is that the town has its own telephone service provider, apart from likes of Ameritech and MCI. More great information on the town and its history can be found on Leaf River’s official website http://leafriver.homestead.com/LeafRiver1.html.
According to Forreston High School’s official website page, http://www.fvdistrict221.org/leafriverinfopage.htm, Leaf River’s first school building was built in 1872. This first school included a two-year high school. In 1920 the residents voted to establish a four-year high school in town. Leaf River High School was opened in 1922 and served the community until 1989, when they merged with the Forreston School District to form the Forrestville Valley School District. A proposed merger with Mount Morris (also featured here) failed during that same time.
Leaf River HS Alumni Banner
Courtesy of David Lee Zellers
Leaf River High School building was destroyed by fire in 1994. The Leaf River Elementary school remained active in town as part of the Forrestville School District until it, too, was closed in 2004.
Leaf River High School “Quick Facts”:
Year Opened: 1922
Year Deactivated: 1989
Consolidated to: Forreston School District
Year All School Functions Ceased: 2004
Original Nickname: the “Fighting Demons”
(shortened to “Demons”
in 1940s or 1950s)
School Colors: Royal Blue & White
School Song: ‘Leaf River Loyalty”
(Sung to Illinois Loyalty)
We’re loyal to you, Leaf River
We’re Blue and White, Leaf River
We’ll back you to stand
‘Gainst the best in the land
For we know you have sand, Leaf River
So crack out the ball, Leaf River
We’re backing you all, Leaf River
Our team is our fame protector:
On! Boys for we expect a
Victory from you Leaf River!!
Che-he, cha-ha, cha-ha-ha-ha,
Leaf River, Leaf River,
Rah, Rah, RAH!
Leaf River HS Gymnasium Building – 2012
Leaf River HS Demon Mascot
Athletics and Extra-Curriculars
Leaf River offered a variety of athletics in their 71-year existance. Like most small schools in Northern Illinois, Basketball was probably the most followed. Baseball, football, and track were also offered at one time for the boys. The girls were offered basketball, volleyball, and track. The records provided below, except those of football, were found on the IHSA website www.ihsa.org.
A former coach of the Demons, John Timmerman, was the head basketball, football (6-man) and track coach at Leaf River High from 1948-49 to 1950-51. After leaving Leaf River Coach Timmerman went on to coach high school sports for 50 years including stints at Zion-Benton, Dundee, and 30 years as an assistant football coach at Barrington High School. Coach Stan Block was Leaf River’s leader for about eight years as well.
The Demons won three District Championships in Boys Basketball, coming in back-to-back seasons in 1942-43 and 1943-44, and in 1960-61.
1950-51 Conference Champions Coach John Timmerman
1960-61 District Champions
1964-65 Route 72 Conference Champs
Regular Season & Tournament
The Demons had some very solid football seasons to compliment their success in basketball.
Jim Hake, Class of 1951, shared this information about the early days of Leaf River High School football:
“I am the oldest living ex-football player for Leaf River. I am only 77, but football was started one year before my senior year. We played 6-man at that time.”
Tom Sikorski found the following Leaf River football records listed below.
1959 4-3 3rd place Rt 72 Conference Coach Arnold Mayville
1960 5-3 3rd place Rt 72 Conference Coach Arnold Mayville
1962 6-2 2nd place Rt 72 Conference
1968 5-2-1 2nd place Rt 72 Conference Coach Bob Fry
1975 5-4 Coach Terry Harmston
1978 5-3 3rd place (tie) Northwest 8 Conference Coach Terry Harmston
Leaf River fielded their last team in 1984. The last win in school history was 26-14 over Mooseheart that year.
Leaf River Demons Spirit Button
Submitted by David Lee Zellers
During every home Demon Basketball and Football game, you were always pepped up by the Demon Band. The Leaf River Musical organization won back-to-back IHSA Class D STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS in 1975 and 1976!!!
1975 IHSA Class ‘D’ Music STATE CHAMPIONS!!
1976 IHSA Class ‘D’ Music STATE CHAMPIONS!!
The following memories of Leaf River HS band and school spirit were provided to LRHS graduate of 1979 David Lee Zellers:
“The Leaf River High School Band performed both in Washington D.C. and Disney World in Florida. It also played at Sea World in Florida, and took trips to New York. Many times they were trophey winners “hands down” in Marching Band competitions. Directed by Sid Anderson, the school had a population not much higher than the population of the high school band, which at one time was 211 strong, including the band, color guard, flag corp, drum major, and pom pom girls. The Village of Leaf River certainly misses hearing the morning and afternoon marches of the band down the streets. I remember these when I was a little kid, and remember being a part of it myself. It was a great tradition that we will never get back.”
The Illinois Theatre Festival is the largest, non-competetive high school theatre festival in the world. It was organized in 1976 by teachers from the Chicago suburbs. This festival is still going strong as they perform at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and Illinois State University every other January. Leaf River High School participated in this festival in 1988.
From former student Don Zimmerman:
“I am sure this was not the correct school song for Leaf River High,but,I sure joined in and sang this song at many ball games:
Beer,beer for Leaf River High
You bring the whiskey,ill bring the rye
Let’s throw a party with some gin,
Don’t let a sober sophomore in……”
Seeking More Information
More information is being sought about Leaf River High School; use the Guest Commentary Form or the School Submission Form to submit. If you have more Information about Leaf River High School, including the school song and especially win-loss records and other great teams you would like to share please e-mail this website at email@example.com .
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Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, IL 60631