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Garfield Historian Tells Tale Of 1939 Football Championship

The 2015 Garfield football team honors the 1939 team.
The 2015 Garfield football team honors the 1939 team. Photo Credit: Facebook
Hank Gola
Hank Gola Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hank Gola

GARFIELD, N.J. — One Garfield football game left enough of an impression on historian Hank Gola to still study it nearly 80 years later for a book.

Gola thoroughly researched the 1939 Garfield High School championship team and the Boilermakers dramatic victory over the Miami High Stingarees.

Garfield defeated Miami 16-13 thanks to a 22-yard field goal by Benny Babula in a "national championship" game, the type unseen in modern high school football.

"If you're from Garfield, you've heard about that winning field goal," Gola told Daily Voice. "This is what you learned. It's part of growing up."

Gola, a 1972 graduate of Garfield High School, wrote an article about the championship season while working for the New York Daily News. He knew, though, that there was much more to be said.

He started more work on his book in September and said he's still about a year away from completion.

"It's like any time I go to do research something will catch my eye," Gola said.

He spoke extensively to Walter Young, one of the only surviving members of the team, for the book. Once it's complete, Gola said he hopes it will be a "slice of life" for Garfield during that era and the rest of the community will enjoy it.

"It's a very compelling story with everything that went on," he said. "It's probably the biggest thing that's happened in Garfield from an athletic standpoint."

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