Jim Combs (PHS 1971): A two sport athlete at Portage (tennis and basketball). In tennis he would help lead the team to the Duneland Conference team title in 1971. He was a member of the 1971 sectionals championship team. He would play two years of basketball at Valparaiso. He is the President/CEO of a property management/construction company in NWI.
Dennis Horner (PHS 1971): A two sport lettermen at PHS (basketball and baseball). A member of the 1971 basketball sectional championship team, he was also a starter on the school’s first Duneland Conference baseball team. Played two years of basketball at Valparaiso University. He had a very successful career in public accounting, retiring as a partner from Deloitte. He lives in NW Indiana.
Chris Lajcin (PHS 1971): Three sport athlete for the Indians (football, basketball and baseball). A member of the 1971 sectional championship team and was a key performer for the Indians first Duneland baseball title in 1971. Attended and graduated from Valparaiso University where he played three sports. Football for four years, basketball for two and baseball for one. He was a four-year starter at tight end for the Crusaders. He had the attention of NFL scouts including BLESTO (Bears, Lions, Eagles, Steelers Talent Organization). After graduating from VU he had a successful career as a Railroad Signal Engineer with the railroad and eventually opened a consulting company in that field. He is now retired in Florida.
Jim Langendorfer (PHS 1971): A three sport athlete at Portage in football, basketball and baseball. A member of the 1971 basketball sectional championship team, he was also a starter on the school’s first Duneland Conference baseball team. He would play basketball and baseball at Lakeland College in Wisconsin.
Robin Berg (PHS 1971): A member of the 1971 sectional team he would go on to play basketball at Western New Mexico University. He currently resides and works in design in New York City.
Mark Cahillane (PHS 1972): Mark was a member of the 1971 and 1972 sectional championship teams. He has made a career in the construction field and is currently a Superintendent of a company that does precast buildings in Chicago and surrounding communities.
Tom Taylor (PHS 1972): a four-sport athlete at Portage (tennis, football, basketball and baseball). A member of the 1970 Duneland tennis championship team and 1971 football co-Duneland Champions in football. A member of the 1971 and 1972 sectional basketball champs. In baseball, as a pitcher, he helped lead Portage to two Duneland Conference championships and one sectional title. Taylor would play baseball at Valparaiso University and would become a career educator. He would retire as the Superintendent of the Hanover School System, but also spent years at Portage as well as coaching basketball at Hammond Morton and Hammond Noll. He resides in NW Indiana.
Chuck Shields (PHS 1972): a member of two sectional title teams, 1971 and 1972. Like many of the players, Chuck had played Portage Biddy Basketball as a youth. As an adult he would give back to the community by serving as the President of Portage Youth Basketball for eight years and growing the league from ten teams to 82 teams and over 800 players. For his efforts with PYB he was awarded the key to the city by Mayor Sammie Maletta. His son Nik was a member of the last PHS team to win a regional title in 1996, advancing to the semi-state. His grand-daughters, Izzy and Gabby, are third generation PHS basketball players and are rising seniors for the 2021-22 season. He became an electrician after high school and is currently President of Circle R Electric in Portage. He resides in Valpo part of the year and spends several months a year in Fort Myers, FL.
Jon Tetrick (PHS 1972): a three-sport athlete. A member of the 1971 sectional title team. A member of the PHS tennis team that won two Duneland Conference team titles, one sectional title and he was the singles champ in the DAC twice. In track he was a member of two Duneland championship teams and was the conference champ in the high jump. He was the school record holder in the high jump when he graduated. He would graduate from DePauw University and enjoy a career in the human resources field. He is retired living in the Pittsburgh, PA area.
Al Vaught (PHS 1972): a three-sport athlete at PHS. A member of the 1971 sectional title team. Ran cross country and was on the first PHS team to compete at the state meet in November of 1971 where they finished 4th. A distance runner on the track team, he was a member of two Duneland Conference track championship teams.
Jeff Antilla (PHS 1972): Jeff was a two-sport athlete at PHS, in football and basketball. He was a member of the 1971 and 1972 sectional basketball champs. He was the starting quarterback on the football team his senior year before a shoulder injury ended his season, and that team would be Duneland co-champs in football. Graduated from Purdue University.
Ken Clements (PHS 1973): Two sport athlete (basketball and baseball). Member of the 1972 and 1973 sectional championship teams. In baseball he was a key pitcher on teams that won two Duneland titles and one sectional title. All Duneland performer in baseball. Pitching record in two years for the Indians was 14-1. He enjoyed a career as a machine repairman with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2013 and is retired living in Plainfield, IN.
Rick Sabo (PHS 1973): Sabo was an accomplished three sport athlete (football, basketball and track) at PHS. A three-year letterman in football, he helped lead the team to a Duneland co-championship in 1971 and earned All-State honors as a defensive back. It is believed he is tied in PHS football record book for most interceptions in a season (ten) and is the school record holder for interceptions in a career (19). In track he would set the school record in the long jump as well as winning the conference long jump twice, on a conference mile relay champion and a member of two Duneland Conference track team championships. He would play two years of basketball at Ball State. A member of two basketball sectional championships (1972/73). He was a career IT professional for the Department of Homeland Security and is retired living in Colorado and Florida.
Jim Stanley (PHS 1973): Two sport lettermen at Portage (basketball and baseball). All Duneland conference performer in baseball and helped lead Portage to two Duneland baseball titles and one in basketball. A member of the 1972 and 1973 sectional basketball championship teams. Played baseball for four years at Ball State. Spent his career in the energy business and retired as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of NiSource Inc in 2017.
John Burton (PHS 1973): Three sport lettermen in his one year at Portage (football, basketball and track). A member of the 1973 basketball sectional title team and 1973 Duneland track champions. He is retired in Florida and previously served as the Executive Director of the Achievement Academy in Lakeland, FL.
Tony Greenway (PHS 1973): In discussions over the best to ever play at Portage, he is in the discussion. He was a member of three sectional championship teams (1971/72/73), the only person in PHS history to do that. His season average of a double double in 1973, 17.3 points and 13 rebounds are noteworthy. Greenway would not play college basketball due to his injury. He married, moved to Florida and sadly passed away way too early in 1994 due to throat cancer.
Russ Lindner (PHS 1974): Three sport athlete at PHS (basketball, football and track). Won an individual state title in 1973 in the state track meet in the discus. The first individual state champ in PHS history in any sport. Member of the 1972 and 1973 sectional championship teams. Played football and threw weights in track at Franklin College. He would play a number of positions in college (defense end, tight end and nose guard) and was a team captain his senior year. He is a licensed chiropractor in central Indiana.
Scott Devries (PHS 1974): A member of the 1973 sectional championship team, Devries would play four years of basketball at the University of North Carolina – Asheville. He is retired as a manager from Coca-Cola and resides in central Indiana.
Kelvin Riley (PHS 1974): A three sport athlete for Indian teams (football, basketball and baseball). Starting quarterback for three years in football, earning All State, All region (Gary Post Tribune) and All Duneland Conference in his senior year. QB on the Duneland Conference football co-champions in 1971. 20-7-1 as a starting QB. First PHS football player to participate in the North South All Star game in 1974, intercepting two passes for the North squad. In baseball he was a three-year letterman (pitcher) and helped the team to three Duneland titles and one sectional baseball title. Was All DAC in baseball as a senior. Riley would play three years of football at Indiana State, setting kicking records as well as playing defensive back and defensive end. He was a member of two sectional championship teams (1972/73). Retired ironworker in NW Indiana.
Dan Snodgrass (PHS 1974): A two sport athlete (basketball and baseball). Member of the 1973 basketball sectional championship team and also a member of two Duneland baseball championship teams. Snodgrass graduated from Indiana State and became an educator. He was a High School Principal, Special Education teacher and a golf and girls basketball coach. He passed away in 2012 in Kentucky, way too young.
Jim Smith (PHS 1973). Smith was the Manager for all three of the sectional championship teams. An accomplished athlete himself, he lettered in football twice and golf four times. He would go on to kick on the Valparaiso University football team for four years. He currently resides and works in sales in Arizona.
Coach Goodnight is retired, living in Florida.
Coach Casbon is retired, living in Valparaiso.
Coach Klein is retired, spending time in both Portage and Florida.
Coaches Lindner and Samuel are still in NWI. Lindner is with the Porter County Aging Association and prior to that was in senior leadership positions in NWI with the YMCA. Samuel is a retired educator, including years as the Portage Athletic Director. He also coached the River Forest and Knox basketball teams. In 1978-79 he coached River Forest to questionably the school’s best season finishing 18-4.
Regrettably, Doc Kerns passed away in late 2020. RIP Doc.
About the contributor
Bob Miller moved with his family to Portage in 1961 and is a 1974 graduate of PHS. He is an alumnus of Indiana University and a retired Navy officer living in Virginia. He grew up watching PHS basketball and was a member of the 1973-74 team. As a PHS student at the time, he saw most of the games discussed in this article from the opening season one point loss to Valpo in the 1970-1 season to the loss to Michigan City Elston in the 1973 regionals. Researching and writing this article brought back a lot of fond memories from the three seasons discussed and the individuals involved. The coaches, players, fans, packed gyms and especially the PHS Pep Band that was in his opinion, the best in the area. In talking to Jim Combs he was pleasantly reminded of Jim, Jim Langendorfer and Mark Cahillane playing for his late father (Wayne) in Biddy basketball in the 60’s, and how his father had enjoyed watching them bring home sectional titles to Portage. He truly enjoys saying “Always proud of being from Portage and forever a PHS Indian.”