Holy Cross High School “Crusaders”

Holy Cross High School Campus – Aerial View
A picture containing text, electronics, circuit

Description automatically generated
Thank you to Aaaaaaaa
Holy Cross High School Sign
A sign in front of a building

Description automatically generated with low confidence

The History of Holy Cross High School of River Grove

River Grove (population 10,668) is located in far northeastern Illinois in upper western Cook County.  River Grove is a near northwestern suburb of Chicago.  The town was incorporated in 1888. The main roads leading to River Grove are Illinois Routes 64 and 171. The Soo Line Railroad runs through River Grove while the Des Plaines River flows through the west side of town. The town’s official website can be viewed at http://www.villageofrivergrove.org .

The Chicago area is a hotbed of parochial school activity. Private, religious-based grammar schools and high schools are a part of nearly every neighborhood. As the town of Chicago expanded westward, the suburbs who were near it began to expand as well. The rising population brought with it the need for new high schools to accomodate the new residents. Holy Cross Catholic High School was one of these schools.

Holy Cross High School Building – Main Entrance
A building with a lot of windows

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Holy Cross High School for boys was established on the north side of River Grove in 1961, run by the Brothers of the Holy Cross. Along with it a sister school, Mother Guerin High School for girls, was established. The schools sat side-by-side on 80th Avenue just south of Belmont Avenue for over 40 years.

When it first opened in the fall of 1961, 380 boys were enrolled at the school. The first graduating four-year class numbered 283 in the spring of 1965 when 1,165 students were at Holy Cross. The school’s peak number of students reached 1,466 in the fall of 1968.

As River Grove and its surrounding near northwest suburbs leveled off in population growth, so did the enrollment at Holy Cross High School. The enrollment decreased steadily through the early 2000’s. It was decided that in 2004 an incoming freshman class had to reach a certain level to remain open. This number never materialized and talks were finalized with Mother Guerin High School for a consolidation effort. Through this effort Guerin Preparatory High School was born.

The main high school is held in the original Mother Guerin High School building. Holy Cross High School facilities, including the gym, football, and baseball fields, are still used for the Guerin Prep HS sports program. The Holy Cross High School building still stands and is used in an educational capacity. A webpage dedicated to the Holy Cross Alumni can be viewed at http://www.guerinprep.org/HCAlumniPage.html.  The home page for Guerin Prep High School is located at the web address of www.guerinprep.org.

Holy Cross High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                                   1961

Year closed:                                    2004

Consolidated to:                               Guerin Preparatory High School

Holy Cross HS team nickname:         the “Crusaders”

Team colors:                                    Red & Grey

School Fight Song:                          “Crusaders Fight for Holy Cross”

                                                                         Submitted by Patrick Devitt

                                                                          (Click before to play music to listen/sing along)

                                                              Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba
Crusaders fight for Holy Cross,
Crusaders win for Holy Cross,
Though the score may be against you,
To your team you will be true,
So cheer your men from Holy Cross,
Cheer your team through win or loss,
For the Red the Grey we cheer hooray,
Crusaders fight for Holy Cross!

Holy Cross High School Seal
A picture containing text

Description automatically generated

The Holy Cross High School Crusaders competed in many different sports during their existence.  Holy Cross High School offered Soccer, Football, Golf, Cross-Country, Basketball, Wrestling, Hockey, Tennis, Baseball, and Track.  Several of these sports enjoyed success on a state competition level (www.ihsa.org).  In many cases we are missing some of the better records, coach’s names, and great athletes which were a part of the Holy Cross High School history.


The Holy Cross High School diamond-men had several seasons of oputstanding success.  The baseball program won a total of SIX Regional titles, two Sectional titles, and made two trips to the IHSA State Finals.  The resoults of these great seasons are listed below.  Unfortunately we are still searching for the records and coach’s names of many of these and other great HCHS teams.

1964-65    21 – 4     Elite 8 Finalist                            Coach Frank Mariani

                             Regional Champions

                             Sectional Champions

                             Elite 8 Finalists

                             Lost to Waterloo HS 5 – 0

1974-75                  Regional Champions

1977-78    23 – 13    Elite 8 Finalists                          Coach Donald Halverson

                              Regional Champions

                              Sectional Champions

                              Elite 8 Finalists

                              Lost to Chicago Kennedy 5 – 3

Coach Halverson’s 100th Win – Bob Sharkey 2 HRs
A picture containing text, newspaper

Description automatically generated
Submitted by Paula LoCelso – 1980

1982-83                  Regional Champions                 Coach Bennadetti

1983-84                                                                    Coach Bennadetti

2001-02                                                                    Coach Dan Eberle


*2002-03                 Regional Champions                 Coach Dan Eberle / Coach Bob Stevens

                              Holy Cross 5, Willowbrook 1
Holy Cross 4, Elmwood Park 0
Sectional First Round

                              Glenbard West 6, Holy Cross 2

 *2003-04                Regional Champions                 Coach Dan Eberle

                              Holy Cross 7, Elmwood Park 1
Holy Cross 12, Leyden 7
Sectional First Round

Hinsdale South 6, Holy Cross 4

(School’s Final Season)

**In regard to the 2002-03 season. Dan Eberle was the Head Coach. He coached the team thourgh the middle of April and the team had a 7-1 record, when he was forced to take a leave due to illness. He returned to coach the team in 2003-04 (the final season). Bob Stevens did an outstanding job in completing the 2002-03 season and return as the Assistant Varsity Coach in 2003-04.

Holy Cross High School Gymnasium
A picture containing building, outdoor, sky, bus

Description automatically generated
Now Guerin Prep Gymnasium


The Crusader basetball program did not come away with any IHSA hardware.  However, the teams were always in the thick of conference title races and contended for many Regional titles, coming up a little short each year. One of Holy Cross’ alumnus’, Dennis McGuire (mid-1970’s), played his college basketball at DePaul University including a spot on the Blue Demons’ Final Four squad which starred Mark Aguirre!

The following are some of the late-great seasons that HCHS enjoyed:

2001-02     23 – 6     (Best Overall Season in School History!)  Coach Dan McCarthy

                                    Regional Results

Holy Cross 55, Maine West 41

Notre Dame 46, Holy Cross 44

2002-03      20 – 8                                                                     Coach Dan McCarthy

Regional Results

Holy Cross 61, Leyden 43

Evanston 51, Holy Cross 48

(Evanston finished 4th in State)

2003-04                     School’s Final Season                              Coach Dan McCarthy

Season Record 6-21

Regional Finals

Holy Cross 80, Ridgewood 44

St.Joseph 63, Holy Cross 40

(St.Joseph lost in Super-Sectionals)


The most well-covered sport on the IHSA website for Holy Cross, the gridiron program had some nice seasons to show for itself. Included were two undefeated regular seasons and six trips to IHSA State Playoffs.

Garrett Wolfe, who went on to star at running back for Northern Illinois University, is a product of the Holy Cross Cruasader football program. He put up remarkable numbers during the 2000 season. He scored 39 touchdowns, rushed for 2,259 yards and scored 234 of his team’s points in the season. The 39 touchdowns ranks 12th in Illinois H.S. Football history.

An amazing feat occured on November 22, 1994 against Lisle Benet Academy. Quarterback Brian Dolan made a huge pass to Joe Gorowski for a total of 99 yards for a touchdown. Gorowski would also set a school record that year with 13 punts returned.

**The Holy Cross football spirit is still alive today on Belmont Avenue.  Former grid iron “Crusader” Virg Gerin (HCHS Class of 1983) has been named the head coach football at Guerin Prep High School for the 2009-10 season!!

1963-64                                                                           Coach Ron Giusti

1964-65    4 – 4                                                                 Coach Ron Giusti

1965-66    7 – 2                                                                 Coach Frank Mariani

1966-67    5 – 4                                                                 Coach Frank Mariani

1967-68    4 – 4 – 1                                                            Coach Frank Mariani

1968-69    6 – 3                                                                 Coach Frank Mariani

1969-70    6 – 2                                                                 Coach Frank Mariani

1970-71    5 – 4                                                                 Coach Frank Mariani

1971-72    9 – 0        Undefeated Season                          Coach Frank Mariani

1972-73    8 – 1                                                                 Coach Frank Mariani

1973-74    9 – 0 – 1   Undefeated Season                          Coach Frank Mariani

1974-75    8 – 1                                                                 Coach Bob Koleno

1975-76    7 – 2                                                                 Coach Bob Koleno

1976-77    7 – 2                                                                 Coach Bob Koleno

1977-78    7 – 4     Qualified for IHSA Class 5A Playoffs    Coach Bob Koleno

                           Elite 8 Finalist

                           Beat Fremd  7 – 0

                           Lost to Deerfield 29 – 0

Deerfield eventual State runner-up

1978-79                                                                            Coach Bob Koleno

1979-80     6 – 4                                                                 Coach Tim Feigh

1980-83                                                                            Coach Tim Feigh

1983-85                                                                            Coach Tim Franken

1986-89                                                                             Coach Pat Arthurs

1994-98                                                                             Coach Virg Gerin

1998-99     8 – 4          IHSA Class 4A Playoff Qualifier       Coach Joseph DiCanio

                                 Lost to Canton 27 – 0
1999-00     8 – 5          IHSA Class 4A Playoff Qualifier       Coach Joseph DiCanio

                                 Lost to Rochelle 29 – 25

2000-01   11 – 2          IHSA Class 4A Playoff Qualifier       Coach Joseph DiCanio

                                 Elite 8 Finalist!!

                                 Beat Ridgewood 34 – 8

                                 Beat Jerseyville 35 – 21

                                 Lost to Pontiac 37 – 14

2001-02     7 – 6          IHSA Class 5A Playoff Qualifier       Coach Joe DiCanio

                                 Lost to Riversidfe-Brookfield 42 – 0

2002-03                                                                             Coach Joe Dicanio

2003-04     7 – 4          IHSA Class 5A Playoff Qualifier       Coach Joe Dicanio

                                 Lost to Rock Island Alleman 21 – 13

*Many of the records in the latter years reflect the final record after Holy Cross had competed in the Catholic League Playoffs in which it was entered after losing in the IHSA playoffs.

Our very own Cody Cutter remembers when a website called HolyCrossCrusaders.com covered the Crusader football team in what would be the school’s final year of 2003-04. This website was hosted by Prep Sports Online. However, the website was pulled after the football season.


The soccer team also sported some nice seasons.  Included was a Regional Championship in the 1996-97 season!

1982-88                                                               Coach Valdis Bole

1988-90                                                               Coach Vic Montoya

1992-96                                                               Coach Joe Sustersic

1996-97     13 – 10         Regional Champions      Coach Joe Sustersic

1997-98     18 – 4 – 2                                             Coach Joe Sustersic

1998-99                                                               Coach Joe Sustersic


One male athlete brought some IHSA hardwarte back from the State Meet.  Mike Durkin made consecutive trips to the state meet in the early 1970s.

1969-70     Mike Durkin          1 Mile Run          2ND Place

1970-71     Mike Durkin          1 Mile Run          2ND Place


Two Holy Cross High School grapplers won medals at the IHSA State Meet.  Their excellent accomplishments are listed below.

1970-71        Jim Hynes                 167 Lbs Weight Class         4TH Place

1976-77        John McGuiness       167 Lbs. Weight Class        2ND Place

Anthony Reyes – 1975 Conference Wrestling Champ
A picture containing person, floor, posing

Description automatically generated

Other Holy Cross High School wrestlers fared well in local competition over the years.

1975             Anthony R. Reyes     Conference Champ

1976             Anthony R. Reyes     Conference & Sectional Champ

Special Thank You…

…to Patrick Devitt for a great deal of the information on this page.

Need More Information

If you have any further information you can add on the history and achievements at Holy Cross High School, especially a photo of the high school building, please write to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.   You can also write to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.  60631

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: