Restoring Arcola's tradition

By Bret Beherns |, Matt Wettersten |

Published 11/26 2015 04:06PM

Updated 11/26 2015 04:06PM

Arcola high school has three state football championships to its name, but only one of those teams went undefeated. This year's team has a chance to finish its season in perfect fashion with a win in the title game tomorrow. Our Bret Beherns takes a look back at this year's record breaking season in one of the most historic programs in the state.
Nearly 20 years to the day after Arcola made its last appearance in the state football finals -- the purple riders are back -- and ready to leave their mark.
"It's our chance to leave our footprint here in Arcola.  We had an alumni, Mark Monahan, come and talk and he talked about starting our own tradition and starting our own legacy and that's how we're treating it.  We had a great run through the 70's, 80's, 90's and we went 20 years without going and I think we can start it back up again," said Arcola's Giovanni Salinas.
Arcola made six state final appearances from 1977 to 1995 -- winning it all three times under legendary coach Steve Thomas. Riders football dates all the way back to the late 1800's -- the program is just a few wins away from 700 all time.
"It's exciting and it makes you proud to be a part of it cause you all the people that have been a part of it, players and coaches and community members and you can't take it lightly when you get that opportunity," added Arcola head coach Zach Zehr.
It's an opportunity for several guys to follow in their fathers' footsteps -- representing the riders on the state's biggest stage.
"When my dad went through high school here he went to state and when I was growing up he would always tell me stories about it and it's always been a dream of mine to go and do that," said Arcola's Dalton Pantier.
Arcola has had a dream season.The riders have outscored their opponents more than ten to one.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We've worked for this for six years.  This has been a dream for us seniors since our seventh grade year.  We've busted our butt for it and it's a dream come true," added Arcola's Brandon Lebeter.

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