don_wileThe oil industry brought Salem some fine athletes and one of the finest was a hard running fullback that earned the nickname, “The Bull Moose.” Don Wile, who graduated from Salem Community High School in 1944 and participated in football, basketball and track, was an inductee of 1986 into the Salem High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Wile was the scoring leader on the outstanding 1943 team that had only a 7-7 tie with Benton to otherwise mar a perfect season. That 1943 team gained world-wide attention with the 188-0 win over Fairfield in which Wile scored 88 points. Football was Wile’s strongest sport, lettering four years.

After graduation from high school, he attended Evansville College for one year, lettering in football as a halfback. He transferred to Tulsa University where he lettered his sophomore and junior years. He devoted his senior year to studies only.


robert_scolesA 1986 inductee into the Salem High School Sports Hall of Fame earned the nickname of “The Battering Ram” in powering the Salem Wildcats to a North Egypt Conference Championship in 1941 and to a 13-12 victory over Centralia in the well-publicized “Battle of Marion County.” Bob Scoles, a 1942 graduate of Salem Community High School, was named to the Champaign News-Gazette All-State Team his senior year.

Twice a unanimous first team choice for all North Egypt Conference honors, Scoles’ senior year was particularly outstanding as the Wildcats finished with an 8-1 record and won the championship with a 6-0 mark. The year before the Wildcats had tied with Flora for conference top honors, each with 5-0-1 marks, tying 7-7 in their head-to-head meeting.


mike_lenichA basketball coach who served two stints at Salem Community High School, both highly successful, and the coach of the first Salem team to advance to the State Tournament, was one of the 1986 inductees into the Salem High School Sports Hall of Fame.

With military service twice interrupting his coaching tenure, Michael E. Lenich coached Salem basketball teams from 1938-1941 and from 1947-1951. He holds the distinction of coaching the first Salem team to the State Tournament in 1940. That team compiled a 26-6 record and reached the quarter finals before dropping a 34-30 decision to Champaign.


kenny_farrarOne of Salem’s most successful football coaches, Kenneth E. Farrar, now retired, coached Salem Wildcat teams from 1943-1951, the football teams compiling a 62-18-2 record. With a North Egypt Conference record of 458-1, Farrar-coached Wildcat teams captured four North Egypt Conference championships.

Salem teams in Farrar’s first two seasons were 12-0 in conference play, netting back-to-back crowns. Overall those two years, Salem’s record was 15-1-1.

Only a 7-7 tie marred an otherwise perfect season in 1943, but one game that year vaulted the Wildcats into world-wide prominence. With so many Salem alumni serving around the world in World War II, Salem’s 188-0 win over Fairfield was read by Salem servicemen in major papers in Texas, California, Hawaii and London.



The team that turned the Southern Illinois basketball world on its ear and sent the townspeople of Salem into an ecstatic frenzy was a 1986 inductee into the Salem Sports Hall of Fame. The 1939-40 Salem High School basketball team, the first Salem team to advance to the State Tournament, stunned the basketball world with their 46-37 win over Centralia in the sectional final to win the trip to the “Sweet Sixteen.”

The team, that posted a 29-6 record that season, was composed of Gerald Brubaker, Bill Finks, Dickie Gray, Elton “Rabbit” Meredith, Daryl Robb, Henry Hinkley, Jim Meador, Max McGraw, Bob Scoles and Jim Somer, and their coach, Mike Lenich. Unfortunately, five of those players – Gray, Brubaker, Hinkley, Meador and McGraw – and Coach Mike Lenich are deceased.

The highlight of the season was undoubtedly the sectional win over Centralia, played at Centralia, that sent the Wildcats on their first Champaign trip. Salem had lost to Centralia in the regional championship, 42-40, but, in those days, the runner-up also advanced to an eight-team sectional.

Salem not only won the rematch but they won convincingly, leading the strong Centralians at halftime, 20-3. Much of that success was the defensive blanket put on theĀ· acknowledged star of the Centralia team, Dwight Edleman, by Robb that kept Edleman scoreless in the first half.

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