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.
Jim Lewis served as Athletic Director, head football, golf, basketball, and baseball coach at Pekin Community High School during his career from 1933-1955. Jim received his BA from the University of Illinois and a masters from the University of Iowa. During his days at the University of Illinois he played football and basketball. Jim also served in the military. Jim Lewis started his coaching career at Pekin in 1933 with the baseball team. He compiled a record of 118-71-1 in eleven seasons under his direction. Lewis led Pekin to six regional titles in his seven seasons as basketball coach, including state trophies in 1947 (4th place) and 1948 (3rd place). Jim coached football for eleven seasons with a 71-30-1 record. The 1951 unbeaten Pekin football team was the first team in the history of the school to win ten games. The 1951 team was considered the mythical Number 1 team in the state. Pekin won both the Greater Peoria Illini Conference and the Big 12 Conference titles that year. Jim's golf teams excelled, winning a 3rd place (1948) and a 2nd place (1949) in the state tournament during his seven years as coach. Jim Lewis was one of the driving forces behind building Pekin Memorial Stadium. Jim was a member in three Halls of Fame, the Pekin High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Illinois High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, and the IBCA Hall of Fame. Even by today's standards, Coach Lewis' coaching achievements are legendary.