|FACTS ABOUT OTTAWA CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL
Year opened: 1946
Year closed: 1949
Known today as: Marquette High School
School colors: Blue & Gold
School nickname: Crusaders
Ottawa Catholic offered football, basketball, and baseball to its up-and-coming male athletes, doing so in order to build consistancy and the programs as they started to play varsity sports.
The Crusaders played their home games in the Ottawa Armory, next to Ottawa High School along the Fox & Illinois Rivers. As freshmen, they went 12-8 for coach Rev. Richard Raney, including victories over Grand Ridge High School’s varsity. The program built up to sophomore and freshmen teams the next school year, then offered varsity hoops in 1948-49. The Crusaders wound up 3-21 for Coach Dick Taylor in that first varsity season.
Ottawa Catholic did not organize its first team until 1947, going 5-2 as a frosh-soph team only. The next year, Coach Dick Taylor’s Crusader varsity went 4-3-1 overall in a schedule that saw them take on varsity and varsity “B” or junior varsity teams.
In one game during the 1948 season, Ottawa Catholic tied Bloomington Trinity at 20-all, as halfback Bob Bongartz ran for 223 yards and three touchdowns. The single-game rushing total was the highest in OCHS/Marquette history until 1984.
The Crusaders did compete on the diamond during the spring for Coach Dick Taylor, compliing a 3-6 record in the spring of 1949.
NOTABLE STUDENTS AND GRADUATES OF OTTAWA CATHOLIC
A number of students who attended Ottawa Catholic went onto successful careers and have been honored by the alumni association as members of the St. Xavier/Ottawa Catholic/Marquette Alumni Hall of Fame and/or have been inducted in the school’s John Pocivasek Athletic Hall of Fame for their athletic endeavors. Among those that have received these honors:
–Bob Bongartz, MHS class of 1950, attended OCHS all three years. Bongartz stood out as OCHS’ most versatile athlete, playing halfback in football, forward in basketball, and pitcher-infielder in baseball. Bob has been inducted in the athletic hall of fame individually as well as a member of the 1949 MHS varsity football team.
–Robert E. (Bob) McGrath, MHS class of 1950, attended OCHS all three years. Was involved in football and music at OCHS. After his graduation, Bob attended the University of Michigan where he graduated from that institution’s School of Music in 1954, and later wound up gaining acclaim with The Mitch Miller Singers, plus has been involved with the childrens’ program Sesame Street from its opening season (1969), thus having been the longest-lasting human character on the PBS series program.
–F. M. (Mike) Scherer, MHS class of 1950, attended OCHS all three years. Just like McGrath, he attended the University of Michigan and made his mark as a industrial economist and author, graduating with high honors at Michigan in 1954 with an A.B. degree, following that up with an M.B.A. with high honors from Harvard in 1958, then his Ph.D in business economics from Harvard in 1963. Scherer is professor emeritus of public policy and corporate management in the Aetna Chair at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and served as chief economist for the Federal Trade Commission from 1974-76.
—Glen (Joe) Dougherty, MHS class of 1952, attended OCHS as a freshman. After graduation, he made his mark as a civil servant and volunteer, including the head of the LaSalle County Board. Dougherty has also been inducted into the athletic hall of fame at the school as a member of the first MHS varsity football team in 1949, and set a record for longest run from scrimmage (96 yards) against Chebanse in 1951.
–Gerald (Jerry) McGinnis, MHS class of 1952, attended OCHS as a freshman. He majored in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois, and later received his Master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Following employment with Westinghouse Electric & Alleghany General Hospital in the Pittsburgh area, he formed Lanz Medical Products and then Respironics in 1976, which helps people to breathe better. He remains involved with Respironics as its Chairman of the Board and Advanced Technology Officer.
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