The Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame honors its first football team the Richwoods High School Knights. And what a team it was! After a decade of frustration for Peoria-area schools, the Knights brought home the 1984 Class 5A State High School Football Championship. In ten previous playoffs, no team from the Mid-State 10 (now Mid-State 9) had won so much as a second round game.
Richwoods 13-0 season included a first round playoff trip to Mt. Vernon (27-0), followed by wins over state-ranked teams Chicago Heights Marion Catholic (13-7), Joliet Catholic (27-15), and then 21 to 14 over Deerfield in the Championship game.
Basically, it was a senior team with seven starting as sophomores - season record 2-7; as juniors the record was 8-3. The Journal Starís Bob Leavitt called it the greatest turn-around in conference history. In conference play, the 1984 team averaged 36.3 points in nine games, while allowing opponents an average per game of 4.6.
The passing of All-State Greg Peeler and running of All-State fullback Kevin Hattendorf led a fourth-quarter drive to the winning score in the Championship game at Northwesternís Dycke Stadium. Greg was the last of five sons who were standouts at Richwoods for their coach father, Tom Peeler, himself a Hall of Famer, who ended a 30-year coaching career after the season.
USA Today ranked the team 14th in the nation. A record 13 players made All-Conference - 10 of them unanimous selections; and two made All-State. November, 1984, will long be remembered in local high school football history.
Paul Reatherford was the main ramrod in establishing Peoria's first Biddy Basketball program in 1951 at the old Salvation Army gym with 275 boys. He started as Coach and Director in that league in 1947 where he stayed for 23 years. That first year in the official Biddy program his team won the state title but lost its first game in the national tournament in Scranton, Pa., home of the Biddy program. In subsequent years, his teams would have first and third place finishes, plus one season where our town hosted the national tournament.