Ottawa High School will open its doors this weekend.
The Ottawa Township Hall of Fame will induct seven individuals and one athletic team into the school’s hall of fame on Saturday, while the inductees will also be honored at Friday’s home boys basketball game against Sterling.
Of the inductees, the Class of 2013 includes four individuals and one team who contributed to OTHS athletics. The group includes Don Jobst, Jerry Bretag, Dale Berman, Jim Harris and the 1977-78 boys basketball team.
Below is a look at the inductees with athletic ties:
1977-78 Boys Basketball Team
The 1977-78 Pirates squad had a magical season under coach Dean Riley.
In going 24-5, the team won the NCIC, the Homewood-Flossmoor Thanksgiving Tournament and advanced to the Class AA state tournament, which was held at the University of Illinois.
After Ottawa won the regional, sectional and super-sectional to advance to state, it fell 49-43 in the state quarterfinal to Lockport, which won the state title.
“We returned our entire front line from the year before that lost in the super-sectional so the expectations were really high because we had really good size and experience returning,” said assistant coach Gary Vancil, who later became OTHS football coach from 1979-80 and was basketball coach from 1981-94.
“It was a great year, but it was also a tough year because everybody knew that we were good. We got most team’s best effort when they played against us.”
Pirate players garnered a multitude of individual honors for their play.
Cameron Meyers and co-captain Bob Roth both received NCIC special mention and were honorable mention all-state, while Kevin Kimes was named All-NCIC and received honorable mention all-state.
The team, however, was led by co-captain Craig McCormick, who was inducted into the OTHS Hall of Fame in 2008 and is still the leading scorer in Pirates history.
During his senior season, McCormick was named to the first team at both the Homewood-Flossmoor and Pontiac tournaments as well as being named NCIC All-Conference, Associated Press and Chicago Sun-Times all-state, and second-team all-state by the Chicago Tribune, UPI and AP.
The team was built around him,” teammate Kevin Kimes said. “When you’ve got that strong of an athlete at your center position, you’re going to have success.”
In addition to Myers, Roth, Kimes and McCormick, the team included Charlie Schmitt, John Haeffele, Dave Schrader, Tony Mason, Mitch Roether, Jeff Yocum, Jon Schaefer, Tom Henderson, Jeff Workman, Steve Carr, Tim Bohannon and John Peisker.
“Ottawa always had a history of packing Kingman Gym, and that was something that really stood out to me during that season,” Schmitt said. “You could not find a seat in that whole place, and when we played on the road and in tournaments the support from the community and all the fans was just incredible.”
Harris made many contributions to Ottawa both in the classroom and in athletics.
While serving as the head of Ottawa’s mathematics department from 1963-88, Harris also coached freshman boys basketball from 1956-61 under former OTHS coach Gil Love and coached the sophomore team from 1961-79 under former coach Dean Riley.
During his tenure as a coach, Harris’s teams went a combined 344-146. His sophomore squads won four NCIC titles, seven Ottawa Christmas Tournament championships and two Bradley-Bourbonnais Tournament titles.
“I’m very honored to be in the hall of fame with so many other people who have had so many great accomplishments,” Harris said. “I’m so very proud.
“I really had some great teams and some really wonderful kids,” he added. “It was always a lot of fun.”
The three-sport athlete excelled during his time at Ottawa but made his mark on the gridiron.
During his senior football season, the 1951 alumnus was named all-conference, all-state and was an honorable mention All-American.
Out of high school, Berman was recruited by Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arkansas and Colorado College but picked Northwestern, where he played for two seasons before he was drafted into the Army.
After his discharge, Berman played two seasons at Northern Illinois University. In 1958, he was named second-team all-conference and was voted team MVP. In 1959, he was named first-team all-conference and was the honorary captain.
He later played semi-professional football with the Elmhurst Travelers in the Bi-State Professional League.
In 1999, he was selected to the Northern Illinois University All-Century Team, and in 2011 was inducted into the Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bretag never put on pads or a jersey for his alma mater, but the 1950 alumnus found another way to contribute to OTHS athletics.
Bretag was unable to play sports due to spina bifida, but while in high school he served as team manager and statistician for multiple OTHS squads.
“This is such a great honor,” Bretag said of his induction. “I have a couple of bad legs so I can’t run and could never compete in any sports, but I thought the closest way I could be to participating was being a manager.”
After he graduated, Bretag attended Western Illinois University, where he majored in journalism.
He later worked at the DeKalb Daily-Chronicle, where he eventually became sports editor, before he moved on to the Quad City Times, where he spent 25 years as Sports Editor and Executive Sports Editor.
In addition to working for the QC Times, Bretag served as the official statistician for the Mississippi Valley Conference and later the Quad Cities Conference.
After retiring in 1984, Bretag began chronicling extracurricular accomplishments for the IHSA through its database of sports records. To date, nearly all of the 90,000-plus records listed have involved Bretag’s efforts.
“Getting into the hall of fame is one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me,” Bretag said.
A three-sport athlete at OTHS, the 1944 graduate returned to Ottawa as a teacher, coach and athletic director at Central and Shepherd Junior Highs.
In 26 years as a junior high basketball coach, Jobst compiled a record of 418-144, won 16 conference championships and six straight conference tournament titles from 1960-66.
His enjoyed his most successful seasons from 1952-61, during which his teams went 179-29, including going 51-1 from 1959-61.
Jobst was inducted into the Starved Rock Conference Hall of Fame in 1989, and the Central Intermediate School gymnasium floor is named in his honor.
“A lot of people did a lot more than I did, but I am very happy about to receive this honor,” Jobst said. “I just never thought I did anything special, but I am happy about it.”
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.