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FOOTBALL: Hobart-Penn 1979 – “We Can Beat These Guys”

Nobody gave Hobart a chance to beat undefeated Penn in the 1979 Class 3A regional. Their mistake.

On a cold, drizzly night in early November, 1979, Jeff Galovic, a senior at HobartHigh School, stood alone with his thoughts on the top row of the home bleachers at Brickie Bowl, his school’s postcard-worthy football stadium. From that vantage point Galovic, Hobart’s starting center, assessed his opponent later that evening, Class 3A state No. 1-ranked Penn.

“They had their uniforms on,” Galovic recalls, “and I thought to myself that they weren’t as big as advertised.”

So Galovic walked back down to near field level to gain a closer look.

“I realized they just had their jerseys on,” he says. “No pads yet. I thought to myself that this 5-foot-9, 190-pound center might not make it through tonight.”

 


That same night, around the same time, Bob Kobza, a 16-year-old Hobart junior and the team’s starting quarterback, walked to the Brickie Bowl from his home nearby. This had been Kobza’s ritual all season long, and it was not a welcomed one. The summer before, Kobza’s mother had died of cancer. His father’s job demands made it difficult for him to maintain the kind of schedule a boy that age needed, so all involved determined that it was best if Kobza stayed instead with his maternal grandparents. The walk from their home took him past the “dust bowl” practice field and to the entrance of the stadium.

On this evening, November 9, throngs of Hobart residents were already milling about the entrances.

“I was like, ‘Aw, man, look at all these people here, waiting in line,'” he recalls. “They were like, ‘Come on, Bobby! Let’s go, Bobby!’ They recognized me. I was saying, ‘Excuse me, excuse me.’ And here they are standing in line to see my team.”

And finally, on a street nearby, Brickies head coach Don Howell and his son and junior offensive guard Donnie rode together to the stadium.

“What’s wrong Dad?” asked Donnie, according to a 1996 story in The Times.

“They’re so good,” his dad answered. “I don’t think we stand a chance.”

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