This year’s alumni game will be about celebrating a moment Green Machine football fans will never forget — the 1976 state championship.

Geneseo’s alumni football game is a chance for former players to remember their time playing underneath the lights on Friday nights.

However, this year’s alumni game will be about celebrating a moment Green Machine football fans will never forget — the 1976 state championship.

On Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., the Geneseo alumni game at Bob Reade Field will honor the 40th anniversary of the Green Machine’s first state championship against Metamora.

With players from each generation representing the Green Machine and the Redbirds, the two legendary programs will take the field against each other once more in the alumni game which features a rematch of 1976’s 3A title tilt between Geneseo and Metamora.

Looking back at the Green Machine’s 1976 playoff run

Wayne Strader a 6-foot, 3-inch 205-pound senior was listed among the pre-season All-American football team from Joe Namath’s National Prep Sports, an official

magazine for America’s high school athletes. He was listed on team No. 4 with seven other running backs. Strader’s name also appeared in the October issue of Popular Sports magazine as one of the 100 best high school backs in America.

He was in the Midwest and Plains section. Strader also was picked to be on the first team for Illinois All-state. Which appeared in the July issue of the Big Ten Football magazine.

Keith Brake’s story lead in the Geneseo Republic after the opening game of the season was: If the person sitting next to you Friday night at Pleasant Valley had never before seen Geneseo play football, you could have pointed to the field and said, with pride, “That my friend, is the great Green Machine!”

The Geneseo victory bell was at the game. It waited four quarters in the rain before tolling out the Green Machine’s victory. The bell was dismantled from its permanent home under the scoreboard at GHS stadium and transported to Normal. Ted McAvoy (2016 Geneseo HOF inductee) engineered the project while Arv Erdman loaned one of his trucks.

The winning touchdown was set up after Dennis Brooks blocked a Metamora punt in the waning minutes of the game. Wayne Strader’s winning touchdown came with a little over a minute to play.

Keith Brake’s lead in the championship game story for the Geneseo Republic was: Who will ever forget that moment — the victory bell ringing in the background, Ed Ryan and Wayne Strader on the stand holding the trophy aloft while the rest of the team huddled under a cloud of mist celebrating below them, while the announcer told the world — The Class 3A state champions... Geneseo!”

Wayne Strader, Geneseo’s all-state fullback was among 33 Illinois football players honored in Champaign at the 41st annual banquet by the Champaign News-Gazette. Strader was given special recognition by Loren Tate, who awarded the certificates for all-state. Tate said of Strader “He ran for more than 800-yards in the four playoff games, and you have to remember that this was not against weak teams, but against some that were undefeated strong opponents. His statistics are hard to believe.” It was the second year for Strader at the banquet.

When the Green Machine’s convoy of fans returned to Geneseo, the city was covered in frost and snow. However, a sign proclaiming Geneseo was No. 1 was already up at the Central Theater to greet weary fans straggling in. It gave the team another opportunity to cheer as their buses plowed toward the high school. Thanks to John L. Greenwood.

The Class 2A state football champions from Fulton played the Class 3A champion from Geneseo in basketball the following week.

The championship game was broadcasted on WGN-TV. Geneseoans who watched remarked, “It looks just like a college or pro game.”

After a good play by Geneseo, an individual color close-up still of the play was shown on the screen on WGN-TV. Those pictured were: Chris Ford, Brian Westemeyer, Ed Ryan, Dennis Brooks, Shawn Hart, Wayne Strader, Jon Peterson and Dave Anderson.

The Geneseo Republic remarked after the game WGN-TV’s coverage was so good Geneseoans “can forgive the Chicago Tribune for predicting Sycamore, Lisle and Metamora as the probable winners against the Leafs.”

After a brutal playoff schedule and only a few hours of rest, Jeff Wachtel wrestled at 250-pound heavyweight from Erie. Wachtel won the match with a pin.

At an appreciation rally, Bob Cherry said all of his players bear “the benchmark of Bob Reade,” as football players and as individuals. Mr. Cherry continued his praise stating that coach Reade was the fundamental and most important cog in the Green Machine. “Coach Reade would probably give the credit to his coaches, players and even the grass for growing so nicely on the football field,” Cherry added.

1976 results

Geneseo 42, Pleasant Valley 0

Geneseo 13, North Scott 6

Geneseo 35, Macomb 32

Geneseo 34, Mendota 8

Geneseo 46, Hall 8

Geneseo 21, Rochelle 0

Geneseo 33, Rock Falls 0

Geneseo 22, Princeton 0

Geneseo 35, Kewanee 22

Geneseo 34, New Lenox 6

Geneseo 35, Lisle Benet 6

Geneseo 25, Sycamore 6

Geneseo 20, Metamora 12