On Feb. 27, 1965, the Granite City Warriors added another state championship to their trophy case.
This time, it was in wrestling.
The wrestling team gave the Granite City athletics department its third state championship after it finished in a tie for first with Reavis High School at the state tournament. The boys' basketball team won a state title in 1940 and the baseball team won it all in 1948.
The state wrestling title was the Warriors' biggest sports highlight in 1965, the year Lyndon B. Johnson was president, the Gateway Arch was built, Bonanza was the top-rated show on television, the Sound of Music won an Oscar for Best Picture and the Beatles and the Supremes were the top music artists, with each group scoring four No. 1 hits.
Granite City had eight sports teams in 1965; half of them played in the spring. There were no girls' sports teams. Lawrence McCauley was the school's principal and Dick Yates was the athletic director.
Coming into the 1964-65 season, Granite City was already a high school wrestling powerhouse, winning nine Southwestern Conference, seven regional and 12 sectional titles, placing in the top four at state four times and having 41 wrestlers earn all-state honors.
All the Warriors were missing was a state championship.
Granite City got its first state title in program history in 1965, when it finished in a tie for first with Reavis with 31 points in the state tournament at the University of Illinois. It marked the first time in the history of the state tournament that two teams finished in a tie for first.
"It was something we all really enjoyed," said John Evenden, a senior on the wrestling team.
Reavis, located in Burbank, won its third state championship in program history. The Rams won outright titles in 1960 and 1961.
Granite City had three wrestlers who earned all-state honors — seniors Rich Bledsoe and Steve Cavanaugh and sophomore Bill Fuchs. Bledsoe received his second all-state medal after placing third in the 120-pound division. Cavanaugh finished second at 112 and Fuchs was runner-up at 95.
William "Red" Schmitt reached the 200-win mark as Granite City head coach during the season. He won 589 matches during his 35 seasons (1951-1985) at Granite City.
"He was a wonderful man," Evenden said. "He led by demonstration. He knew he was the best wrestler at the high school, even though he was older. He was in absolutely fantastic shape. He didn't get mad at anybody. He always had a smile on his face. He's always telling you how to improve your wrestling and what you needed to do and we all knew his reputation."
In addition to the state championship, the Warriors also captured regional and sectional championships, won the conference title and placed first in the Granite City Holiday Tournament.
Granite City was 23-1 in dual meets. Mehlville, which won the Missouri state wrestling tournament in 1965, handed the Warriors their only loss. Evenden said the loss to Mehlville gave his team motivation in the postseason.
"Right then and there, I think everybody decided that we've got to do something at state," Evenden said.
Granite City became the first school south of Springfield to win the state wrestling championship. The Warriors finished second at state in 1957.
Seven Granite City wrestlers qualified for state. Besides Fuchs, Cavanaugh and Bledsoe, Evenden (heavyweight), Rich Grizzard (133), Jim Valicoff (138) and Gary Forshee (180) also competed at state for the Warriors.
"Everybody in Granite City knew about the history of Granite City wrestling and how good the reputation of Granite City wrestling was throughout Illinois and Missouri," Evenden said. "It was pretty honorable to have such a big team go."
A day after the state tournament, the Warriors returned to Granite City for a championship assembly at the school.
"There were a lot of people in the stands and all of that," said Evenden, who worked at Granite City Steel for 41 years and is now retired. "We walked in and they announced us and all of that. Schmitty had a few words to say. McCauley was the principal at the time and he had some things to say about how we represented Granite City and did a very commendable job."
The next year, Granite City finished third at state. The Warriors placed in the top four at state one other time and that was fourth in 1999.
In 1983, the IHSA made changes to the state wrestling tournament. The dual team state tournament was created and was held after the individual state tournament. Team scores are no longer counted in the individual state tournament.
With Jerry McKechan leading the way, the football team turned in a strong season, going 5-4 and finishing in a tie for third with Wood River in the conference standings.
The Warriors had 27 seniors on their team, including McKechan. McKechan, who is now a member of the Granite City Community School District Board of Education, was the only Granite City player to earn first-team all-conference honors as he was named first-team guard. He was given the "Chuckles Ax Murder" award for his defensive play three times and held the school record for blocking five opponents' punts — including four in 1965.
Len Revelle, Rick Turner and Gary Johnson shared team captain duties. Revelle scored two touchdowns and ran for 228 yards in the Warriors' 33-21 win over Quincy in their second-to-last game of the season. Granite City clinched a winning season with the win over the Blue Devils.
After starting their season with a 21-0 loss to Riverview Gardens, the Warriors bounced back to win three games in a row over Madison, Collinsville and Alton. Granite City was 3-3 before getting back-to-back wins over Edwardsville and Quincy. The team ended its season with a 24-14 loss to Belleville (Belleville didn't split schools until 1967).
Jim Morrison was the Warriors' head coach. He also headed the track team in the spring season.
The Granite City baseball team didn't capture its third straight regional championship in 1965.
Still, the Warriors finished with another outstanding season under Joe Fedora, going 17-12 and sharing the Southwestern Conference title with Alton and Belleville at 8-4.
The Warriors clinched at least a share of the league title after beating Collinsville 2-1 on a sacrifice squeeze bunt in the bottom of the seventh in their final conference game at Wilson Park.
Larry Dillard led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple and scored the winning run on a squeeze bunt by Charlie Collins. Two innings before, Dillard tied the game at 1-1 after scoring on a single by Greg Patton, the principal at Granite City High School in the early 2000s.
With the win, Granite City took a one-half game lead over Alton and Belleville in the conference standings. The Redbirds and Maroons won their final conference games to finish in a share of the league title with the Warriors, who last won a SWC title in 1958.
Two weeks later, Collinsville ended the Warriors' hopes of winning their third straight regional after beating Granite City 2-0 in the first-round district game at Wilson Park.
During that time, baseball postseason play began with districts, then regionals and sectionals.
Patton, who was then a junior, was the Warriors' top hitter, hitting .342 with 25 hits, 17 runs scored and 15 RBIs. Doug Winfield was 6-2 with a 0.88 earned run average and 42 strikeouts on the mound.
The baseball team also included Nick Petrillo, who coached the Granite City football team from 1996-2002.
The Warriors went through a tough 1964-1965 season, going 8-18 overall and 0-12 in conference play.
Granite City finished its season with an 81-73 loss to Edwardsville in a first-round regional game at home. It would be the last game Andy Sullivan coached for the Warriors as he was relieved from his head coaching duties after seven years.
Sullivan was 93-90 as Granite City coach. In 1960, he coached the Warriors to 25 wins and their first regional and sectional championships in 20 years.
Vince Debevc, who was the team's captain, was the lone Granite City representative on the all-conference team, earning second-team honors. Debevc scored 21 points against Edwardsville in regionals.
Ralph Sackett, a former Collinsville standout, took over head coaching duties the next season. Granite City got back on the winning track, going 15-12.
The Granite City golf team finished second in the Southwestern Conference Tournament and sixth in the district tournament in its second season of play in 1965.
Gerald Karandjeff earned medalist honors in the conference tournament after finishing in a tie for third with a 77.
Golf began at Granite City in 1964 and all of the home matches were played at the Engineering Depot Golf Course in West Granite City. Harry Lane was the Warriors' coach.
Players included Jack Brisby, Terry Tessary, Bill Henley, Jim Moran, Paul Greve, Bob Yates and Bob Wheeler.
The Warriors finished 7-3, placed second in the conference and finished runner-up in the district tournament at Alton.
Granite City, coached by Dick Harmon, had no state qualifiers. The Warriors had two singles players (Rusty Toburen and Bob Malottki) and one doubles team (Jim Holland and Allen Williams) reach the semifinals of the district tournament.
The Warriors finished third in the Southwestern Conference meet and fifth in the district meet at Alton.
Jim Stephens and Joe Pashea were among the top runners for the Warriors, who were coached by Harmon. Stephens was Granite City's top finisher at the conference meet, placing seventh. At the district meet, Pashea finished 12th in nine minutes, 40 seconds, which set a school record for a 1.5-mile course.
Dwain Bridges was the Warriors' top performer, setting a school record in the pole vault and qualifying for state in the event.
Bridges qualified for state by finishing fourth in the pole vault with a state-qualifying mark of 12 feet, 8 inches at the district meet in Alton. He was Granite City's only state qualifier.
Bridges finished in a school-record 13 feet in his second-place finish in the pole vault at the SWC meet in Alton. He broke his own school record of 12-11 he set at the East St. Louis Relays earlier in the season. Bridges earned all-state honors in the pole vault the next year, finishing third.
Also in 1965, the mile relay team of Revelle, John and Jim Pomeroy and Randy Corey finished fourth with a school-record time of 3:31 at the conference meet.