TriCounty Wayne McClain had both a plus and a minus going into his first season as head coach of the Manual Rams last season.
He was now the boss of the bench at his alma mater after a long stretch as an assistant coach, which means he had great knowledge of his players, but he was succeeding an Illinois coaching legend and his long-time chief, Dick Van Scyoc.
So all he did in his initial season as head coach was post a 32-2 record and coach Manual to a second consecutive state championship, something only a handful of teams have managed.
And his long affiliation with Manual, both as a player under Van Scyoc and his tenure as an assistant coach, helped much in his quick success story.
"Some teachers and townsfolk tend to think of you as still a kid in short pants," the 39-year-old coach, who played one season for Bradley in 1974-75, said after bringing his team back from Champaign with its first-place trophy. "I went to school with the parents of a lot of my players and they trust me to mold their kids."
In his first season, Manual lost only to Danville and Springfield Lanphier and won the prestigious Pontiac Holiday Tournament and whipped St. Louis Vachon in the St. Louis Shootout. On the way to the state title, the Rams disposed of Quincy 74-63, Glenbrook North 64-36, Joliet 62-60 and Harvey Thornton 65-53 in the championship game.
Wayne McClain had both a plus and a minus going into his first season as head coach of the Manual Rams last season.
|Ron Dwyer, Sr.|
Ron was an All-Conference, athlete in football, basketball, and baseball at Spalding Institute and achieved All-State honors in basketball. He accepted a full scholarship to Western Illinois University for basketball. After his freshman year he transferred to Bradley University on a baseball scholarship. At BU he played baseball for three years and football for two years. In 1964, he was selected for the All-Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Team. Ron was invited to play on the first Peoria Pacers Baseball Team in the Central Illinois Collegiate League, batting 4th in the lineup and playing 3rd base alongside Don Kessinger, the eventual star shortstop for the Chicago Cubs. After college he shared his sports acumen as an assistant coach for Spalding’s basketball teams that were the state runners-up in 1969 and 1970 Class AA Tournament. He was the pitching coach for the 1974 East Peoria team that placed 2nd in the Class AA Baseball Tournament. Ron was a player/manager in Peoria’s Sunday Morning League for 15 years; for 20 years he served as supervisor of the softball program for the Peoria Park District; for 6 years was active in Little League; and for 2 years helped lead a youth basketball program. He was an umpire/official in baseball, basketball, and football at various levels of competition over 21 seasons.