Penfield (population 193) is a small farming community located just south of U.S. Route 136 on County Road 22 in northeastern Champaign County. Penfield is located about 16 miles northeast of Champaign. A minor branch of the Vermillion River runs through the north side of town. The town was established in 1876 and named after Guy Penfield, vice-president of the Havana, Rantoul, and Eastern Railroad. (Place Names of Illinois by Edward Callary.)
Penfield’s Oldest Building
Former Church Building
The history of Penfield and its school system is in need of research. Penfield is well known as an antique tractor supporter and its former grade/high school (pictured above) is now used as an agricultural museum. Penfield High School probably was established in the late 1800’s. Though it is not verified, we feel Penfield High School may have closed her doors as a high school in the late 1940’s. The high school aged kids of Penfield were then bused to nearby Armstrong to attend high school. Armstrong High School is still in operation today. Penfield may have maintained its grade school status for some years after the high school closed. However, this information is not known.
Penfield High School definitely offered basketball as is evidenced by their two District Titles won. PHS probably also offered baseball and track like all other small schools of its day. We are hopeful a Penfield resident can help us out with this information.
The Penfield boys won two District titles during their existence. It is quite possible other great seasons were enjoyed. If you have this information, please share it with us.
The two title years are listed below. In 1928-29, the school won the district title with just 15 boys in the school (10 girls) and it did not have the luxury of having its own gym. ThePenfield High School boys won the first two games of the Sectional Tournament placing them in the SWEET 16 of the IHSA Tournament in the one-class basketball tournament. Included in their wins in the Sectional were victories over Marshall and Kankakee, schools many times larger then Penfield. The PHS boys would lose in the title game to Champaign High School, who would go on to place 2nd in the IHSA Tournament that year.
The following season, Penfield started the season with over 30 consecutive victories before bowing out of the state tournament at the District level. Unfortunately, records of the teams are not known.
We have located some scores from the IHSA State Tourney that Penfield High School participated in on a website titled “Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores“. The scores that we located on this website are reprinted below.
Beginning of the basketball program through 1927-28 Postseason scores, coaches’ names, and records needed.
1928-29 26 – 5 IHSASWEET 16 FINALISTS! Coach Stanley Hadden
Paxton District Champions
Title Game Beat Rantoul 27-20
Danville Sectional Tourney 2nd Place!
1st Rd. Beat Marshall 24-20 (O/T)
Semi-final Beat Kankakee 29-15
Title Game – Lost to Champaign 32-20
Leading PHS Scorers:
Willard 10, Inman 8, Zimmerman 2
Champaign Placed Second in State!
1929-30 33 – 1 Undefeated Regular Season Coach Stanley Hadden
Hoopeston District Tourney Runner-Up
Semi-Final Beat Milford 27-12
Title Game lost to Cissna Park 26-22
Cissna Park was 30-1 entering the game
Cissna Park lost in 1st Rd of Sectional
**After the 1929-30 season ended the Penfield High School boys had 4 starting players that wished to play one more year of high school basketball. Inman would go on to play at Armstrong High School. Zimmerman, Willard, and Starns would continue their last season at Rantoul High School. The boys continued to have an impact during their senior years. Inman led the Armstrong High School team to a District Championship and a spot in the Sectional title game against……..you guessed it, the Rantoul High School basketball team. Rantoul would be Armstrong 23 – 19 in that game. Rantoul would lose in the Elite 8 game to Johnson City who would place 4th in the finals of the IHSA Tourney that year.
1930-31 Postseason scores, coach’s name, and record needed.
1931-32 Urbana District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Sidney 30-7
Urbana beat Ogden in title game
1932-33 Postseason scores, coach’s name, and record needed.
1933-34 Postseason scores, coach’s name, and record needed.
1934-35 Fisher District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed.
1st Rd Lost to Fisher 56-10
Fisher placed 2nd in District
1935-36 Farmer City District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd Beat Gifford 33-28
Title Game – Lost to Farmer City 48-14
1936-37St. Joseph District Champions! Coach’s name & record needed
…you would like to share regarding the Penfield High School successes we urge you to share them with us. The hard work and dedication of those who made the school work and succeed should not be forgotten. You can e-mail information to us at email@example.com. or write to us at: