Saybrook High School “Comanches”

Saybrook High School
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Saybrook High School 1895-1929
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Courtesy of Saybrook 175th Anniversary book 1825-2000

The History of Saybrook High School

Saybrook (population 764) is located in eastern Illinois in the southeastern portion of McLean County. The town is located in a country setting on McLean County Road N3850 East Road about a mile south of Illinois Route 9. According to Saybrook’s web site (, the town is known as the “City of Shade and Water.” This is verified by the three branches of the Sangamon River which flow through town along with the pond located on the northwest side of Saybrook. The Norfolk & Western Railroad line runs through town as well and probably has a lot to do with its location. The town was settled in 1850 and first known as Chenney’s Grove. The name was changed to Saybrook in 1865 after towns of the same name in either Connecticut or Ohio.  Saybrook area was first settled in 1825 by Jonathon Cheney, for whom the township (Cheney’s Grove) is named after. The name Saybrook comes from the name of a similar community in Connecticut.

The townspeople of Saybrook began an educational system for its children as early as 1832. In 1864 the the Saybrook Academy was opened which included primary, intermediate, and high school grades. In 1888 Saybrook High School was officially established. These classes were held in a frame school building. In 1895 a new brick building was built to house Saybrook High School. A new brick high school building was constructed in 1929 with the old brick building being utilized as a grade school. THe first high school graduation excercise was held out of the Saybrook Academy in 1880 with 3 members earning diplomas. The first class to graduate out of the 1929 building, the class of 1930, had 17 graduates.

Inscription on 1895 building for Saybrook HS
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courtesy of Saybrook 175th anniversary book 1825-2000

Saybrook High School existed from 1864 through 1952. In the summer of 1952 the towns of Saybrook and nearby Arrowsmith voted to consolidate their high schools which established Saybrook-Arrowsmith High School. This school continued to be held in the 1929 Saybrook High School building. The Saybrook-Arrowsmith High School District continued through the 1988-89 school year when Saybrook-Arrowsmith conslidated with Colfax Octavia to form the Colfax Ridgeview School District.

The 1895 building pictured above was demolished in 1988, and the 1929 building was torn down in 1992. The gymnasium from the 1929 location is still standing, now used as the township garage.

Saybrook School Memorial 2015
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Saybrook High School Identification Stone 2015
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Saybrook High School 1895

Saybrook High School Quick Facts

Year opened (as a 2-yr school):        1886

First building opened:                         1895

Four-year school began:                    1920

New building opened:                        1929

Year consolidated with Arrowsmith:1952

Year buildings razed:                          1988 & 1992

Gymnasium today:                               still standing – used as township garage

School nickname:                                “Comanches”

School colors:                                      Red & White

School Fight Song:                              unavailable


It is a fact that the Saybrook Comanches competed in basketball and football. It is probable that at some point track and baseball were also offered. While it was in operation, Saybrook was a member of the Tri-Valley Conference along with AnchorArrowsmithCooksvilleColfaxTowandaDownsEllsworthand Cropsey, all of which have their own pages on this website. If you have more information regarding other conference affiliation and records of the better teams that competed at Saybrook, please forward the information to us.


The Saybrook High School Comanches competed in football at least during the 1949-50 though 1951-52 school years. The first football team in Saybrook High School history suited up in the fall of 1949. The Comanches earned their first victory in their very first game against Heyworth (also in their first season of football) on 09/17/1949, with a 20-6 victory. A total of 23 boys suited up for that first team. Though their records are not available, the photos of the teams (see below) are on the web site If you have any information you can add regarding the gridiron exploits of the Comanches, please drop us a line.

1949-50                     Coach Dean Short

Saybrook High School Comanches
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1949-50 Football Team

1950-51                     Coach Russell McKeon

1951-52    4-2-1       Coach Russell McKeon

Saybrook High School Comanches
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1951-52 Football Team, SHS’ Final Season


The boys basketball team won a total of 4 District titles. Their last District title came in their last year of existence as a solo school and brought with it a 25-7 record. The seasons as they are listed on the IHSA web site are listed below.

Several scores involving Saybrook High School playing in the IHSA State Tournament were located on a website titled “Illlinois Postseason Basketball Scores.” These scores, as well as other information provided by Dean Bentley, are printed below. Let us know if you have any more information about these and other great SHS teams.

Saybrook High School Gym Building 2015
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Saybrook High School Gym Building 2015
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1913-14              McLean County Jr. Division Champs        Coach’s name & record needed

1914-15              McLean County Tourney Champs             Coach’s name & record needed


1916-17 through 1929-30  Postseason scores, records, and coaches’ names needed.

1929-30  22-5                                                                               Coach George Benjamin

                             Postseason scores unavailable

1930-31  20-6                                                                               Coach George Benjamin

                             Postseason scores unavailable

1931-32  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1932-33  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1933-34              Gibson City District Tournament                 Coach’s name & record needed.

1st Rd lost to Paxton 26-16

Paxton lost in semi-final round.

1934-35              Fisher District Tournament                          Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Cropsey 24-21

Cropsey lost in 2nd Rd.


1935-36              McLean County Tourney Champs             Coach’s name & record needed

Postseason scores unavailable

1936-37              McLean County Tourney Champs             Coach’s name & record needed

Gibson City Regional Tournament

1st Rd lost to Rantoul 22-18

Rantoul lost to Paxton in title game

1937-38              Gibson City District Champions!                Coach’s name & record needed.

District scores needed.

IHSA Regional Tourney Scores Needed

1938-39              Gibson City Regional Runner-Up!               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Loda 23-19

                             Semi-final Beat Rantoul 37-27

                             Title Game lost to Paxton 46-31

1939-40  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1940-41  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1941-42              Fisher Regional Semi-Finalist                     Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Mahomet 28-27

                             Semi-final lost to Urbana U-High 43-20

Urbana U-High lost title game to Urbana HS

1942-43  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1943-44  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1944-45  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1945-46  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1946-47  16-11   Postseason scores needed.                      Coach Leigh


1947-48  28-4    IHSA District Champions!                            Coach Dean Short

                              1st Rd Beat Loda 83-24

                              Semi-Final Beat Thawville

                              Title Game Beat Buckley 45-41

                              Paxton Regional Runner-Up!

1st Rd Beat Rantoul 58-54

                              Semi-Final Beat Onarga 71-68

                              Title Game lost to Onarga Military 60-58

1948-49              McLean County Tourney Champs             Coach Dean Short

(record needed)

Gibson City Regional Semi-Finalist

1st Rd Beat Onarga Military 54-45

                             Semi-final lost to Gibson City 58-56 (O/T)

Gibson City lost title game to Buckley

1949-50             Ellsworth District Champions!                    Coach Dean Short 

                            Semi-final Beat Gridley 59-39

                            Title Game Beat Bellflower 80-61

                            Chenoa Regional Tournament

1st Rd lost to Chenoa 77-53

Chenoa lost to Lexington in semi-final


1950-51  16-8   Sibley District Tournament                           Coach Russell McKeon

                             Semi-final lost to Buckley 59-40

Buckley beat Ellsworth for title.

1951-52  25-7   Sibley District Champions!                           Coach Russell McKeon

                            Semi-final Beat Roberts-Thawville 48-46

                            Title Game Beat Melvin Sibley 49-48

                            Onarga Regional Runner-Up!

                            1st Rd Beat Onarga Military 72-50

                            Semi-final Beat Gibson City 43-38

                            Title Game lost to Rantoul 62-50

*The final year (1951-52) for the Saybrook High School “Comanches” as the school would consolidate with Arrowsmith in the summer of 1952 to form the Saybrook-Arrowsmith School District.


**One of the best players to grace the hardwood for Saybrook High School was Lester “Babe” Hawthorne, who played for the 1951-52 District Champs. His 50 points in a February 19, 1952 game against Heyworth was the school record. In that season alone, Babe averaged 23.8 points per game, which was part of a career total of 1,578 points.

After graduating as the valedictorian of his class, Hawthorne went on to play for the University of Iowa and was a starter on the 1955-56 Hawkeye team that faced Bill Russell and the University of San Francisco in the NCAA championship game. With Babe in the lineup, the Hawkeyes won the Big Ten conference title twice!


Help us document the memories of Saybrook High School BEFORE it was Saybrook-Arrowsmith High. If you have ANY information you wish to add to this page please e-mail us at You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.   60631


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