Dick Duval, Illinois prep football coaching legend, dies after bout with cancer

With his wife Lynda at his side, former St. Joseph-Ogden football head coach Dick Duval holds a plaque above his head during the official ceremony naming the school's football field in his honor last Friday. Duval, 64, died on Thursday. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Six days after attending a ceremony unveiling christening the St. Joseph-Ogden football field with his name, legendary Illinois high school football coach Dick Duval, 64, passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Duval, who was hired back in 1988 to coach football at the high school, would go on to build a respected Class 3A powerhouse football program. Before he arrived in St. Joseph, the 1974 graduate from Herscher was a teacher and assistant coach at Kankakee High School. When he retired 28 years later, the SJO Hall of Fame and Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame honoree massed a career record of 251 wins and 75 losses.

The Spartans, under his watch, never suffered sub-.500 season. After a 5-4 finish in his maiden season, Duval led the St. Joseph-Ogden to their first state football championship game in school history in 1989. As head coach, with the help of his dedicated staff of assistant coaches, he engineered a run of 25 consecutive Illinois High School Association playoff appearances and guided the Spartans to four other state title games in 1997, 1999, 2006, and 2013.

Dick Duval and Principal Mike MacKinzie celebrate SJO win
St. Joseph-Ogden principal Mike McKinzie and head football coach Dick Duval celebrate the Spartans' 22-21 Class 3A semifinal win over visiting Anna-Jonesboro. The victory punched SJO's ticket into the 2006 record-breaking championship game against Plano. (Photo: PhotoNews Media Archives)

Wearing his signature bucket hat, Duval announces the names of his players during the annual SJO Kickoff in 2007.
During the spring season for some 16 years, Duval, a well-liked math teacher by students, also served as head baseball coach where he accumulated 234 wins games, 165 losses along with three ties. He also did a stint as the athletic director and after his retirement from teaching could always be found at SJO athletic events running the scoreboard, stepping in as a game announcer, keeping stats, or supervising events when needed.

In his final season as head coach, Duval's Spartans finish with a 12-1 record, the Okaw Valley Conference title and advanced one step short of a sixth championship game appearance in Class 3A thanks in part to an early season blizzard during the state semifinals at Unity.

A remembrance and tribute ceremony for Duval is planned before tonight's football game between the Spartans and the visiting Monticello Sages at the field now bearing his name.

Duval receives a postgame congratulations from a grandchild after the Spartans' 2015 game against Monticello. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)