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Ex-player finds info for East Brady reunion

| Friday, July 15, 2011

Bob Hollobaugh combed through newspaper clippings at libraries for more than two months in search of East Brady football tidbits from as far back as the 1920s.

With his findings arranged in a black binder, Hollobaugh must determine how to condense so many decades of football history into a presentation that won't last more than an hour, lest he bore his audience during Saturday evening's East Brady football reunion at the East Brady Fire Hall.

"I'm still paring down (the information)," said Hollobaugh, who played wide receiver and linebacker for the Bulldogs in the mid-1960s. "I think once I start into it, I'll just go through the years. Some years, when you're 0-8, what's there to say?"

The East Brady football program spanned from 1924-90 — there was no football team from 1940-53 — had an all-time record of 247-209-23. In its final season, before the high school was consolidated with Kittanning and Ford City to form Armstrong Central, East Brady went 9-1 and claimed the Little 12 title.

East Brady's more recent history will be recalled by reunion attendees with ease. Hollobaugh's mission, one he considered at least partially fulfilled, was to dig up East Brady's earliest achievements.

He found ticket old stubs, programs and team pictures. One of his better revelations: The 1932 team was the first to go undefeated (8-0), and it ranked No. 1 in the state — there was no PIAA title — after it allowed seven points and scored 331 during the season.

"I've been pretty impressed with some of the things he's been able to drum up," said Jim King, one of the reunion organizers and a former teammate of Hollobaugh's.

Hollobaugh gave himself the research task not long after he learned of the reunion in late April.

"I've always been a guy that's been intrigued by going back," said Hollobaugh, who added that he researched the history of Pullman Park in Butler about a decade ago.

Hollobaugh visited the East Brady library as well as libraries in Butler and Rimersburg, where he found newspaper archives.

Press accounts, while helpful, weren't what Hollobaugh desired most. He wanted East Brady yearbooks from the 1920s and '30s. But after contacting a few former East Brady administrators, he and King failed to learn the whereabouts of the high school's yearbook collection.

With the help of King, Hollobaugh still managed a breakthrough. They acquired a printout of the football team's year-by-year results from East Brady's last principal, Ralph Bouch.

"This was the godsend," Hollobaugh said. "I was out there for about a month beating my head against the wall."

Other historical details remain elusive. Most notably, Hollobaugh hasn't found a resource listing individual performances.

"I wish I had more information on statistics such as who is the all-time leading rusher, who is the all-time passer and who is the all-time leading scorer," he said.

Hollobaugh recalled a few notable East Brady alumni — NFL Hall of Famer and 1978 East Brady graduate Jim Kelly; Kelly's older brother, Pat, a linebacker at Richmond and in the pros; and Chris Weibel, who played for East Brady during its final season and later set several passing records as a quarterback at Clarion.

After Saturday, to make sure his months of work aren't wasted on one night's presentation, Hollobaugh will give his binder to the East Brady library.

"At least there will be a point of reference then," he said.

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