Sports...A Look Back


 FOOTBALL: Late in the summer of 1968 after surviving the heat, sweat and hard work of 2-a-day practices, a group of talented and gridiron ready football players emerged for those picture perfect....Sunny and Crisp autumn Saturday afternoon home games as Head Coach Ed Yonkus forged  and polished them into one of the most prolific football teams in the annals of AHS. The Redbirds finished the season with a  9-0-1  undefeated record, the only blemish was a 6-6 tie with Belleville West resulting from a missed extra point try.At Public School Stadium record home crowds of some 6,000 watched the Redbirds fulfill their season's destiny as the undisputed Southwestern Conference Champions. The offense amassed an incredible 350 points while the defense yielded only 103. The offensive output was the most by any team in the Greater St Louis Metro Area. The last AHS team to go undefeated prior to the 1968 team was in 1939 in fact, as of 2009 there have been only seven undefeated football teams since AHS's football program inception in 1904. The 1968 football Redbirds finished the season ranked #1 in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area and #6 in Illinois. They were the only team outside of the Chicago area to achieve a top ten ranking. The seniors on the team were never beaten; as juniors they were 3-0 and as sophomores they were 9-0. Coach Yonkus passed away in 1990 at age of 55, however, he was recognized by his peers when in 1991 he was elected to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.





 BASKETBALL: As football and the beautiful fall foliage faded to memories, the cold winds of winter approached, but the Redbird's basketball season was just beginning to heat up and so was the West Junior Gym which was packed for every thrilling home game. We stood proud as our cheerleaders lead us in the singing of our AHS loyalty song and shouted out the cheers for the Redbird Red and Gray. Head Coach Ralph Sterrett piloted the birds to a solid season finishing with a record of 18-10. The team finished in third place in the prestigious annual Carbondale Tournament and third in the rugged Southwestern Conference.








 BASEBALL: The much anticipated spring sports season had finally arrived in '69 and the baseball Redbirds were ready to spread their wings. Coming off  an AHS school record of 25-5 in 1968(best winning percentage- all time record) Head Coach Wayne Tyler guided the 1969 Redbirds to their second consecutive undisputed Southwestern Conference Championship with a  record of  21-6. The 69'ers may well have broken the previous season's won-loss record, but had many early season rain-outs. In the post season Illinois State Tournament in 1969 AHS swept the District, Regional and Sectional Championships and were awarded a berth in the Elite Eight Illinois State Baseball Finals where they eventually were edged by Highland Park 3-2. The team completed the season ranked #1 in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area. As of 2009, the 1969 team is one of only four teams in AHS baseball history to advance to the Elite Eight. The pitching staff recorded four no-hit games during the season,a school record which still stands today. Coach Tyler was later elected to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1981.



  GOLF: The 1969 golf team had an excellent year ending the season with a record of 10-3. The team finished second in the Southwestern Conference and also at the District Tournament. The Head Coach was Glen McPherson.







   CROSS COUNTRY: The team was a state qualifier, finished second in both the Southwestern Conference and in the District Meet. The Redbird harriers had a dual meet record of 4-1. Head Coach was Jim Wigger.






 TRACK: 1969 ILLINOIS STATE CHAMPIONS  The 1960's was the most dynamic decade of track in Redbird history having won Illinois State Titles in ’62-63,’63-64 and the 1969 team was no exception having been crowned State Champions as well. The team handily won their own Alton Invitational Relays, Madison County Meet, East St. Louis Relays, Southwestern Conference Meet, and the District Meet. The ’69 team differed from the two other State Champions of the 60’s in that this was the first and only time in school history that all of the individuals and all of the relay teams that AHS had taken to the qualifying rounds had all made it to the State Meet Finals. The '69 team's accolades didn't end just at the State Meet; they also concluded their year ranked #1 in The Greater St.Louis Metropolitan Area. As of 2009, AHS has won a total of three track state titles in it's history and all occurred during the 1960’s spectacular track decade. Jim Wigger was the Head Coach of these gifted teams and he was elected to the Illinois Track & Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1987.


 TENNIS:  The 1969 Tennis Redbirds added to an already impressive year of sports year at AHS. The team was lead by Coach Sterrett and finished the season with a winning record of 9-4.  The team posted an admirable third place finish in the Southwestern Conference.



HARDWARE SUMMARY: The Redbirds were on a record setting pace during the class of '69 sports season the teams compiled one State Championship, one Elite Eight team, two District, one Regional, and one Sectional Championships,three outright Southwestern Conference Championships, two second place finishes, and two third place finishes in a total of seven different sports.  "Redbird Royalty".... three teams...Football, Baseball and Track completed their seasons ranked #1 in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan unprecedented single season feat never attained before or since in AHS's now (2009) 105 year old sports history. Lastly and perhaps more importantly, these teams were greatly honored by having known and played under three Illinois High School Hall of Fame Coaches.


In all, The Class of 1969  Redbird sports teams are still regarded by many even today to be the best ever in the history of AHS. The memories are many and the entire student body and our community were our best testament and support in building a winning sports legacy at AHS.  There were numerous athletes in all the programs that received meritorious sports achievement awards and collegiate athletic scholarships.


Sports Records Sources: AHS 1969, 1970 Tatlers, Illinois High School Association (IHSA), Alton Evening Telegraph and St.Louis Post Dispatch print publications.


NOTE: Please go to "AHS Sports Photos" section on left side of website tabs to view photos of each sport and corresponding sports articles from the Alton Evening Telegraph.










Tryouts - Rudy




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