Class of 1924
The SHS baseball team finished the 1924 season with a spotless 8-0 record, defeating Gillespie, Litchfield, Virden, and Mt. Olive twice each. Seniors Glen Allen, Glen Hastings, George Oehler, Roland Sawyer, and Cliff Stiegemeier led first-year coach Gilbert Lane’s undefeated team.
Due to the success of the football team, Gilbert Lane’s 1923-24 basketball squad got a late start to the season. Nevertheless, the team showed no rust early, winning its first four games of the year. The Maroons played .500 ball the rest of the way, finishing with a record of 11-7. Staunton played for the championship at the Macoupin County Tournament that year, only to be upended by Chesterfield by a score of 20-19. Edwardsville eventually eliminated SHS in the District Tournament. Seniors included Glen Allen, Glen Hastings, John McBrien, George Oehler, Roland Sawyer, Cliff Stiegemeier, and Harry Yauornick. Stiegemeier returned years later to direct the basketball program at Staunton after spending several years coaching at Mt. Olive.
The 1923 football team was quite simply the most dominant in school history and certainly could be considered one of the best in Illinois history. The boys in myrtle and maroon steamrolled nearly every team they played, finishing 10-0 on the season. In fact, most games were not even close, as coach Paul Miller’s squad outscored its opponents by a score of 494-23 on the season, allowing just one team to cross the goal line. Furthermore, in a 233-0 drubbing of Gillespie, SHS set state (still stands) and national (since surpassed) records for most points (233) and touchdowns (30) in a game. In fact, the game was so controversial that Gillespie refused to compete against Staunton in any activity indefinitely. South Central Conference officials eventually required the two schools to renew their rivalry beginning in 1928-29.
The season started with a very difficult game against Alton Western Military Academy, and SHS won a defensive struggle by scoring on a blocked punt for a 7-0 victory, the first of eight shutouts on the year. Carlinville came calling in Week 2, and a crowd of more than two thousand fans saw Staunton hold on for a 26-20 victory. The schedule remained difficult in Week 3 as Staunton ventured to St. Louis to take on Cleveland High School, somehow coming away with a 10-3 victory over the host school. The season ended with seven straight shutouts, starting with a Week 4 victory over Benld (18-0). After slaughtering Litchfield (113-0), SHS defeated Virden (9-0) and Girard (20-0) before the aforementioned matchup with Gillespie. A Week 9 victory over Mt. Olive (38-0) capped off a perfect regular season. Although the score of the Mt. Olive game looks respectable on paper, in reality it would have been much worse if the whole game had been played. About halfway through the contest, Mt. Olive’s coach and players reacted to a perceived bad call by walking off the field, resulting in a forfeit. Ironically, SHS had requested that the annual Thanksgiving game be postponed anyway due to the heavy rain and wet conditions of the playing field. However, the Mt. Olive coaching staff insisted on playing but, as stated, did not finish the game.
Being champs of the Central District, SHS arranged a postseason game with Carbondale High School, champion of the Southern District. The Staunton defense once again rose to the challenge, posting yet another shutout in a 20-0 victory. After the game, several media outlets bestowed upon Staunton the title of state champion. In an unlikely turn of events, Carlinville was being considered by some to be the best team in Illinois at the time, despite the early loss to SHS. Obviously, the community of Staunton was not happy with the claim and vocalized as much. The back and forth in the media strained relations between the schools, and in fact Carlinville eliminated Staunton from its schedule for two years thereafter.
Regardless of any media posturing, Staunton had achieved a season for the ages, and for their excellent play Cliff Stiegemeier, Mel Stiegemeier, and Art Ruffini were named 1st Team All-Central Illinois by the Illinois State Register, while Gerald Roberts made 2nd Team. George Oehler and Dave Wilson were also commended for their fine play, taking home Honorable Mention status. Senior members of the historic 1923 team were Erwin Grabruck, Glen Hastings, Oehler, Roland Sawyer, Roberts, and Cliff Stiegemeier. Hastings, Oehler, Sawyer, and Cliff Stiegemeier were four-year letter winners, and Oehler continued his career at Washington University in St. Louis. Cliff Stiegemeier eventually returned to his alma mater and led the football program to success as its head coach.
The 1924 track program featured the same five participants as the previous season, but this time Glen Hastings, John McBrien, George Oehler, Roland Sawyer, and Cliff Stiegemeier were determined seniors looking to surpass the success of the prior year. SHS again captured the title at the McKendree College Invitational, the premier track meet in Southern Illinois at the time. Though it is unclear how the community received the previous year’s title, this time the championship was considered such a feat that the following Monday was declared a holiday from school. The student body stormed Main Street, pulling an old buggy with the track team in tow. With principal Paul Miller serving as the team’s coach, it is likely the students had the administration’s blessing to carry on in such a manner.
SHS took home 2nd place overall at the Macoupin County Meet, though the squad did finish 1st in the athletic portion of the event. Early county meets featured an oratorical competition in addition to the athletic one, and thus Carlinville’s mastery of the former contest gave them the overall team title. Sawyer had an outstanding year, breaking the meet record in the standing broad jump, while Hastings took home titles in the running broad jump and 800 meter run.