The Albert Gallatin Colonials were on quite a roll in the late 1950‚s and early 1960‚s and were the Kings of the gridiron. AG in the first year of the merger between Masontown and Point Marion in 1960 posted a 9-0-1 mark; the lone blemish was a 7-7 tie with North Union. They missed the playoffs because of Gardner Points.
In 1961 the Colonials of Coach John Lozar captured the WPIAL Class A title with a perfect 11-0 record. If you factor in the Masontown record in 1959 the year before the merger when the Gunners finished 9-0-1, they tied North Union 0-0, Lozar‚s teams had a three-year combined record of 29-0-2.
AG was powered by mercurial running back Bobby Hlodan who scored 22 touchdowns in 1961; he had tallied nine times in 1960.
"He was absolutely phenomenal,‰ starting tackle Ross "Big Daddy‰ Brown said of Hlodan. "Against Scottdale he had five touchdowns in one game. Bob was just the perfect combination for a high school running back, He was like 5-11 and 175 or 180 pounds and he had speed and agility, great peripheral vision and quickness, because a lot of running backs had speed, but they didn‚t have quickness, He could accelerate and he was gone.‰
Hlodan was an All-County selection and led Fayette County in scoring as a senior when he tallied 22 touchdowns in 11 games. Ten of those touchdowns came on runs of 45 yards or longer. He also ran for five extra points for a total of 137 points for the season.
He rushed for 1,434 yards for the Colonials as a senior on 158 carries - an average of better than nine yards per carry. He received honorable mention on The Sporting News High School All-America team and was picked to play in the Big 33 Game, which he chose not to do.
North Union was a thorn in the side of Albert Gallatin; the Rams had tied Masontown 0-0 in 1959 and AG 7-7 in 1960. The Colonials finally broke through against the Rams in 1961 with a 12-9 win in the first football game played at North Union‚s Williams Field.
The Colonials were down 9-0 when they suddenly came to life with approximately four minutes left in the third period.
The spark that set the Blue and Gray afire was a 57-yard touchdown ramble by Hlodan who broke through the left side of his line, cut to the outside and outran everyone.
From that time on Albert Gallatin applied the pressure and it paid off with just over two minutes left to play when Gene (Red) Barrish cracked across from the one.
"We had a great combination with Hlodan and Barrish,‰ Brown opined. "Barrish was absolutely outstanding, he was tough. So you had Hlodan who could just run away from you and Barrish who would rather run over you than around you.‰
Hlodan sustained an injury late in the North Union game, but it was not as bad as it originally appeared.
AG Coach John Lozar told The Evening Standard it was the best news he could have gotten. "It's sure a relief to know he isn't hurt as seriously as we thought he was Saturday night.
"As for the game I was proud of the way the boys came back in the late stages. Things didn't look very good for us until Bobby broke loose and got that first touchdown.
"When that happened it gave us the spark we needed and we were able to move the ball on offense the rest of the way. But I'll tell you, there in the first half 1 didn't think we would ever get the ball across the 50-yard line.
"We had some tight games along the way in 1961. We beat North Union, 12-9. We were down 9-0 and had to come back and win that game," Hlodan said. "Another tight game was Waynesburg. We were playing in the rain, and it could have gone either way. We won, 12-7."
Albert Gallatin was a bit of a throwback in 1961. They were one of the few WPIAL teams that still ran the single wing attack.
"We ran the single wing and that was an advantage for us,‰ Brown explained. "We loaded up on the right side of the line and they really didn‚t know how to defend us.
"Several college scouts would come to see us, because Hlodan and I were being recruited along with guard Arley Stoker and we had opponents going off the field with broken arms and broken legs and our line was outstanding. We had a sophomore at left end Leon Mickens, next to him was Henry Dodson, just a little guy at 5-9 165, but he was tough as nails. At center was Harold Brewer a tough, tough center who had to know where the ball was going in the single wing. At right guard was Stoker who was a real tough guard and Dick Farrier at inside tackle and I was the outside tackle and the right end was a good athlete ˆ Ken Rice. We didn‚t throw a lot because we didn‚t have to.‰
"We didn‚t throw it much,‰ Stoker said. "It was basically Hlodan and Barish carrying the ball and if we threw it ˆ Hlodan and Barrish did the throwing.‰
German was the big rival back in the day for Masontown and then for the Albert Gallatin merger.
"German Township was a big rivalry," Hlodan said. "Fairchance Georges and Carmichaels, they were all local, and then we had to play South Union and North Union, but the local rivalries like German, Carmichaels and Waynesburg they were always great games to play.‰
In 1959 Masontown got a monkey off their back when they beat German for the first time in 14-years 19-13.
"We had lost to German every year between 1945 and 1958,‰ Brown recalled. "In 1959 with Bill Elias and Ron Richardson and Gerald Lofstead we went 9-0-1 and beat German our traditional rival 19-13 and that was the start of the great run. Beating them in 1961 on the way to the championship was huge.‰
AG capped the 1961 season by beating Penn Joint 19-6 in the WPIAL Class A championship game in front of 5,321 fans at Connellsville.
Hlodan, Barrish and quarterback Harry Pokorny scored touchdowns for AG and Colonials piled up 321 net yards to 142 for Penn Joint.
Coach Lozar added these few words in behalf of his team and coaches: "My staff and I. Gene Franks Jr. and Chuck Wyda, knew we were going to be up against a tough ball club. We had to change a few things around on our defense. But the boys at Albert
Gallatin got together and worked very hard in preparing for the big game. All the credit goes to them.‰
Lozar went on to say that "Ross Brown, Arley Stoker and Ken Rice were tremendous on the line. Another boy who played well backing up the line was Henry Dotson. All in all, all of 'em gave all they had and more. Even the boys who were on the bench had something to do with the victory,‰ he said.
"It was the toughest line we faced all year, man they were hitting hard," Barrish said after the victory over Penn Joint. "It was the best club we played all year. Waynesburg and Carmichaels were plenty troublesome. Our coaches and everyone on the squad deserve a lot of praise for the way they handled our team. It was an AG effort all the way.
Lozar suffered an untimely death during the 1965 football season, but he is remembered fondly by members of his 1961 championship squad.
"I thought Coach Lozar was an outstanding high school coach,‰ Brown offered. "He was our physical education instructor in junior high; he was tough, we were afraid of him. He was knowledgeable and tough.‰
"Coach Lozar was fantastic,‰ Stoker stated. "He was the coach, we had respect for him. He was tough; he was the type of guy that could get everything out of you. We had very good assistants as well.‰
"Coach Lozar was tough, but he was fair. He ran a good system - the single wing - and I was the tailback," Hlodan said. "Everybody respected him and he respected his players. He worked us hard, and that's probably why we won. We worked hard and we never wanted to lose and we didn't the last two years."