Macomb Western Academy H.S. “Cardinals”

Macomb Western Academy Building 1902-38
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Simpkins Hall – Western Academy HS 1938-68
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Courtesy of Steve Monger

The History of Macomb Western Academy High School

Macomb (population 20,500) was named after Alexander Macomb, a War of 1812 hero, & one of the first graduates from West Point. Along with Thomas McDonough, Macomb led troops to victory on both land and water over the British at Plattsburg, NY and on Lake Champlain in 1814. The victories became a crucial point in the war as the United States turned back the British. McDonough is also known in Western Illinois because the county that Macomb sits in is named after McDonough. Macomb later served as commanding general of the U.S. Army from 1828 until his death in 1841.

The city of Macomb sits right in the middle of an area in Western Illinois known as the Military Tract, which was given as a reward to those who fought in the War of 1812. It is positioned exactly in the middle of McDonough County, not far from where the first log cabin built in 1829 by Rev. John Baker. As a city, Macomb was officially founded in 1831. Major routes that serve Macomb include US 67 & US 136, and the LaMoine River runs thru the north end of town. The Burlington-Northern RR also has a line that goes thru Macomb, which is situated between Quincy (65 miles southwest), Monmouth (33 miles north), Galesburg (48 miles north), and Peoria (50 miles east), with all mile counts estimated as straight as the crow flies.

The earliest known history of education in Macomb began in 1834 when a private, one-room log building was opened. A year later, McDonough College was established, but failed as did four subsequent others before Western State Normal College (now Western Illinois University) opened in 1899. Western Academy and Western High School were a part of the campus, serving WIU from 1902 to 1973.

When it opened, Western Academy had 229 students in attendance at the two-year school, which was used a laboratory for student teachers that attended

Western State. The school was known as “The Lab School,” “The Academy”, “Campus School,” and later, “Western High,” thus leading to an all-incompassing name, “The School of Many Names.”

Western Academy Campus
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Year opened (as a two-year school):                1902

Year it became a four-year school:                   1917

Year closed:                                                  1973

Nicknames:                                                   Acads, Purple Preps (thru 1945)

Cardinals (1945-73)

School colors:                                               Purple and White (thru 1945)

Cardinal and White (1945-73)

School song:                                                “We’re Loyal to You, Western High”

                                                                    (sung to the tune of the Illinois Loyalty)


                                                                    We’re loyal to you Western High.

                                                                    We’re cardinal and white, Western High

                                                                    We’ll back you to stand

                                                                    ‘Gainst the best in the land

                                                                    For we know you have sand, Western High!


                                                                    Rah! Rah!


                                                                    So crack out the ball, Western High

                                                                    We’re backing you all, Western High

                                                                    Our team is our fame protector:

                                                                    On! Boys for we expect a

                                                                    Victory from you Western High!


                                                                    Che-he, cha-ha, cha-ha-ha-ha,

                                                                    Western, Western 

                                                                    Rah, Rah, RAH!


                                                                    Fling out that dear old flag of

                                                                    Cardinal and White,

                                                                    Lead on your sons and daughters

                                                                    Fighting for you

                                                                    Like men of old, on giants.

                                                                    Placing reliance, shouting defiance


                                                                    Amid the broad green plains that nourish our land,

                                                                    For honest Labor and for Learning we stand.

                                                                    And unto thee we pledge our heart and our hand,

                                                                    Dear Alma Mater, 

                                                                    Western High!!

Western Academy’s “Million Dollar Gym”
Courtesy of Steve Monger


Macomb Western offered football, basketball, baseball, track, tennis, and wrestling to its male athletes. The Girls’ Athletic Association (GAA) was offered at the school beginning in 1919 in order to encourage female students to participate in sports. Other schools saw how Western ran its GAA program, and adopted it for their own use.

Western Academy Football Coach Harry Sockler
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Before you start reading, take a quick break because the football program was the primary story in the school’s athletic history. There was limited success in 1920-40, as the program was 9-40-3 under Ralph Barclay, a Western grad himself.  Barclay’s Purple Preps recorded their first winning season ever in 1941, going 3-1-1 before he gave the reins to Jim Schultz, whose 1943 & 1944 teams were 4-1 and 4-2, respectively. The school stepped its rise when Larry Kerker coached the first unbeaten teams in 1948 (6-0-1) and 1949 (7-0).

Harry Sockler’s Cardinals made their school proud with 10 undefeated seasons from 1952-67 as Western High went 114-12-2 in those 16 seasons for a winning percentage of .905. Included in those 10 undefeated seasons were winning streaks of 35 and 24 games, the latter being the last 24 games that Sockler would be on the sidelines at WHS. And to boot, the 1967 team went defeated and UNSCORED upon! Jack Hepinstall succeeded Sockler in 1968, leading the next four teams to a combined record of 27-8-1, including a 9-0 mark in 1971. Mark Peterson coached the final season in 1972 with a record of 6-2-1. All told, Western’s football program was 199-86-9 (.698) and either won or shared the LaMoine Valley Conference title 15 times.

1920  0-3    (first season)                                        Coach’s name unknown

1941  3-1-1                                                             Coach Ralph Barclay

1943  4-1                                                                Coach Jim Schultz

1944  4-2                                                                Coach Jim Schultz

1945  6-1                                                                Coach Ernest Kraemer

1948  6-0-1  (LaMoine Valley co-champs)              Coach Larry Kerker

1949  7-0     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Larry Kerker

1950  6-1                                                                Coach Larry Kerker

1952  7-1                                                                Coach Harry Sockler

1953  6-0-1  (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1954  6-2     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1955  6-1-1  (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1956  7-1     (LaMoine Valley co-champs)              Coach Harry Sockler

1957  9-0     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1958  8-0     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

(Top-ranked among small schools in Illinois)

1959  8-0     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1960  8-0     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1962  8-0     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1963  8-0     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1964  5-3     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1965  8-0     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1966  8-0     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

1967  8-0     (LaMoine Valley champs)                   Coach Harry Sockler

                    Unscored upon all season long:

Western 40, Bushnell-Prairie City 0

Western 42, Knoxville 0

Western 59, LaHarpe 0

Western 73, Warsaw 0

Western 46, Carthage 0

Western 49, Aledo 0

Western 19, Hamilton 0

Western 66, Lewistown 0

(Total points: Western 394, Opponents 0)

1968  5-4                                                                Coach Jack Hepinstall

1969  8-1                                                                Coach Jack Hepinstall

1970  5-3-1                                                             Coach Jack Hepinstall


1971  9-0      Undefeated Season                         Coach Jack Hepinstall

1972  6-2-1  (final season)                                      Coach Mark Peterson

  First Team All-State Football Players

1950–Maurice Aten, Bernie Justus, Jim Naber

1952–Allan Spiller (also first-team All-American)

1957–Jim Hammond

1958–Pat Burke

1959–Paul Lescher, Pat Callahan

1960–Pat Callahan

1962–Tim Logsdon

1966–Greg Carson

Western Basketball Team wtih Coach Ralph Barclay
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Courtesy of Steve Monger


The Western boys began their hardwood program in 1916 under the eye of Erskine Jay, winning only one game that season. The program was competitive for many seasons, including several 20-win campaigns, and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in Champaign during the 1950-51 season, despite having an enrollment that was around 200 students.

1915-16                                                                 Coach Erskine Jay

1921-22            District champs

1925-26            District Champs                             Coach Ralph Barclay
1926-27            District champs                              Coach Ralph Barclay
1927-28            District champs                              Coach Ralph Barclay
1928-29            District champs                              Coach Ralph Barclay
1939-40            District champs                              Coach Ralph Barclay

1943-44 16-  8                                                         Coach Jim Schultz

1944-45 23-  4   Regional champs                           Coach Jim Schultz

1945-46 17-  6                                                         Coach Ernest Kraemer

1947-48 17-10                                                         Coach Larry Kerker

1948-49 20-  7                                                         Coach Larry Kerker

1949-50 21-  7   LaMoine Valley Con. champs            Coach Larry Kerker

1950-51 28 – 3   Regional Champs                          Coach Larry Kerker
Sectional Champs

                        Sweet 16 Finalists
Lost to Marion 70-65 in

                        first round of IHSA Tournament
McDonough County Tournament Champs
LaMoine Valley Con. Champs

1951-52 25-  4   Regional Champs                          Coach Larry Kerker

1952-53 18-  8                                                         Coach Harry Sockler

1953-54 15-12                                                         Coach Larry Kerker

1954-55 16-10                                                         Coach Larry Kerker
1955-56 15-  5   Regional Champs                          Coach Larry Kerker

1958-59 17-10                                                         Coach Joe Adam

1960-61 19-  7                                                         Coach Howard Hohman

1961-62 24-  4   District Champs                              Coach Howard Hohman

                        LaMoine Valley Con. Champs

1962-63 24-  4   District Champs                              Coach Howard Hohman

                        LaMoine Valley Con. Champs  

1963-64 22-  6   District Champs                              Coach Howard Hohman

                        LaMoine Valley Con. Champs                     

1964-65 19-  9   District Champs                              Coach Howard Hohman

                        LaMoine Valley Con. Champs
1965-66 14-13   District Champs                              Coach Tony Karas
1966-67 18-  8   LaMoine Valley Con. Champs       Coach Howard Hohman

1967-68 23-  6   LaMoine Valley Con. Champs           Coach Paul Sorenson

1969-70 19-  9                                                         Coach Paul Sorenson

1970-71 19-  9   District Champs                             Coach Paul Sorenson

1971-72 15-10   LaMoine Valley Con. Champs           Coach Paul Sorenson

1972-73   5-19   Final season                                   Coach McLaughlin

Macomb Western High School’s finishes in the annual Macomb-Western Holiday Basketball Tournament as provided by our good friend, Mark Jurenga:

Six (6) Championships

Four (4) Runner-ups

Six (6) Third-Place

Three (3) Fourth Place

One (1) Consolation Championship


3rd Place- Macomb (Western) 38 Macomb 35


Champ- Monmouth 45 Macomb (Western) 43


Champ- Macomb (Western) 43 Good Hope 42


3rd Place- Macomb (Western) 47 Macomb 37


3rd Place- Macomb (Western) 56 Athens 55

Western’s Bernie Justus hit a buzzer beater to win the game.


Champ- Macomb (Western) 46 Macomb 39


3rd Place- Augusta 67 Macomb (Western) 53


3rd Place- Carthage 61 Macomb (Western) 47


Champ- Quincy (Notre Dame) 75 Macomb (Western) 38


3rd Place- Macomb (Western) 44 Lewistown 40


Champ- Lewistown 57 Macomb (Western) 38


3rd Place- Camp Point (Central) 76 Macomb (Western) 60


Champ- Havana 55 Macomb (Western) 53


Champ- Macomb (Western) 63 Havana 48


Champ- Macomb (Western) 51 Havana 43


Champ- Macomb (Western) 49 Havana 48


3rd Place- Macomb (Western) 70 Mendon (Unity) 61


3rd Place- Macomb (Western) 64 Carthage 55


Champ- Macomb (Western) 77 Carthage 63

Western’s Doug Abel & Harry Fritz combined for 48 pts. in the championship game.


Consolation Champ- Macomb (Western) 79 Table Grove (V.I.T.) 51

All-Tournament Team

1960- Trevor Toland (MVP)

1961- Trevor Toland (MVP)

1962- Gail Knappenberger (MVP)

1964- Al Fritschel (MVP)

1970- Van Pogue (2nd Team)

1971- Al Ferguson (2nd Team)


Baseball was first offered at Western in 1932 as a spring sport, then played in the spring as well as the fall in several seasons when football was not offered in 1936-37. Despite not having its own field for practice and home games thru the late 1940’s, the Purple Preps did win some hardware along with the Cardinals, taking five consecutive McDonough County tournament titles in the late 1950s. Baseball was discontinued after 1968, although one game was played in 1971.

1933       McDonough County Co-Champs        Coach unknown

1944       District Champs                              Coach unknown

1948       Regional Champs                           Coach unknown

1949       Regional Champs                           Coach unknown

1964       Regional Champs                           Coach unknown


Western won several McDonough County and LaMoine Valley Conference meets

while there was a team at the school, and even had two people place in the state

track finals.

1958   Jim Hammond     440 Yard Dash    2nd Place
1971   Van Pogue           Pole Vault          6th Place

Hammond, Pogue, Warren Abbot (120 high hurdles), and Ted Pawlias (two-mile run) set LaMoine Valley Conference records for Western before the school closed in 1973.


The Cardinal tankmen showed their stuff in the chlorinated waves of Western High’s pools from 1959-73, setting all 11 event records during the final three seasons of the school’s existance. As a team, Coach Gil Belles’ Cardinals were

11-2 in 1970-71 and were responsible for setting six of the above marks. Chuck Huttinger wound up posting school records in the 100-, 200-, and 400-yard freestyle events, along with the 200 individual medley. He was also a record-setting member of the 200-yard medley relay with Scott RicciTom Abbot, and

Brian L’Hommedieu, and set the 100-yard butterfly record. Huttiger also finished fifth in the state 200-yard individual medley finals.


With nationally-renowned coach Harry Mussatto giving tips to the Cardinal linksters starting in 1956, the teams were competitive against larger and more-experienced teams in meets and invitiationals. Although there were no records

found to prove this, the Cardinals never had a losing season with several players going to the state meet (although none of them placed high enough to medal at the finals).


These two sports were held only for a short time in the school’s history (tennis from 1956-59, wrestling from 1963 and 1966), but there were no qualifiers for the state meets.


Ralph Barclay (1925-41)–Won five district basketball titles

Jim Schultz  (1942-45)–Was 10-6 in football, 23-12 in basketball, winning one regional

Larry Kerker  (1947-51)–22-10-1 in football, 129-55 in basketball with three regional titles, one sectional, and an appearance at the state finals!

Harry Sockler   (1952-67)–114-12-2 in football, 15 LaMoine Valley Conference

titles, 10 undefeated teams

Howard Hohman (1959-65, 66-67)—137-56 in basketball with four district titles and five conference championships

Larry Hepinstall (1968-71)–27-8-1 in football and one undefeated season

Paul Sorenson (1967-72)–81-52 in basketball, two conference titles,and a district title


Maurice Aten (1947-51)–Earned 16 varsity letters at Western, was all-state

in football (1950) and started on the only basketball team to make it to the

state finals

Allen Spiller (1952)–First-team little All-State in football as well as first-team All-American

Jim Hammond (1957-58) First-team little All-State in football, and second in state track meet in 440 Yard Dash.

Pat Callahan (1959-60) Two-time little All-State football pick to the first team

Trevor Toland (1961-62) First-team All-State in basketball

Chuck Huttiger (1970-71) Responsible for setting records in six events, and finishing fifth in the state swim meet in the 200 Individual Medley


To Steve Monger and Marla Vizdal from Western Illinois University for the countless amount of information and pictures provided to us, along with Buck Knowles (class of 1940), Gary Sherer (class of 1959) and John Knowles (class of 1968) for their information and background needed to write this page. John’s very informative document on the history of the school ( was used to research the history of the school, along with a copy of “Reflections” found in the Western Illinois University archives, published prior to the closing of Western High.


regarding “The School of Many Names” and its history, along with any photos you might have. You can email them to us at or send them through the regular mail to:

Illinois High School Glory Days
6439 North Neva
Chicago, Il  60631

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