Hall High School brought a state runner-up football team and a coach who played a vital role in the success of the Red Devils football program back to Nesti Stadium to be inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday.
They were joined by golf great Carrie (Riordan) Davis, all part of the class of 2022.
Longtime Hall “Hog Solders” coach Steve Smith and 1996 state finalist Red Devils returned to the field where they shone together.
After winning the state championship in 1995, the Red Devils returned to the 3A State Finals in 1996, losing to Carterville, 23-20. Smith said this team may have been a little surprising because they graduated so many key players.
“It’s not that they didn’t expect them to be good. I think they all did. But coming back to the championship was really something with different kids,” he said. “You see teams repeating the following year, it’s almost always a senior class that had played before. Those kids were all new.
Smith, an assistant coach from 1976 to 2020, was honored with the recognition, saying it is the most meaningful honor he has ever received.
A t-shirt was made in tribute to Smith for his famous war cry “Who’s the King of Rock ‘n Roll”, with a silhouette in his image and a mustache.
“The history of this school and the fact that people who knew me voted me out despite that,” he said. “It just blew my mind. Just wonderful to me. I expect a big check in the mail.
What made it even more significant was that his daughter, Maddie, surprised him by traveling from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to serve as his presenter.
Davis was a four-time BCR Golfer of the Year and a three-time state qualifier. She went on to a stellar career at Eastern Illinois University, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. She was a multi-year champion in the Illinois Valley Women’s Golf Open and played three years professionally, reaching the third stage of the LPGA Q-School.
“I am extremely grateful to have been selected for such a great honour. It feels good to be in my high school and college halls of fame for a sport that shaped me into the person I am today,” she said.
Davis said it was especially important to share the day with her brother, TC, who was a sophomore member of the 1996 Hall football team.