They Came From Pennsylvania
Altoona's Ed Flanagan came from an athletic family. His dad played semi-pro football both in New York and with The Altoona Mountaineers and even tried out for The Pittsburgh Steelers and his uncle was another football great from Altoona, Steve Lach, who made the Steelers roster in 1940. On the last day of training camp, he suffered an ankle injury and was put on the Steelers taxi squad. He was sent to play for the Long Island Indians where he was coached by the great Benny Friedman. He was then drafted into the Army where he spent five years during World War II. Lach was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and was an all-American at Duke and set the Steelers single season touchdown record in 1947. That record stood for thirty years until Franco Harris broke it in 1976. So, it isn't any wonder that Flanagan took up the sport as well.
It all started for him as a child. He played fullback for Our Lady of Lords in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Then, he went to Keith Junior High, where he continued to play fullback.
Then, it was on to Altoona High School, where he played for legendary Altoona coach Earl Strohm. Strohm told him, "Ed, you're a good football player, but I don't think you are going to make it as a fullback." He said, "We are going to have to change your position." Ed responded, "What do you need coach?" Strohm said, "Well, you're dad played center and he won the blanket award. So, I think that we will try to make you a center."
During his sophomore and Junior years, he spent his time learning to play center. He was not a starter until his senior year. He was going to be the starting center. Coach Strohm and his line coach Ron Rickens came to him and said that they have a kid who is a little bigger than him, but he is not as strong or quick. So, they moved Ed to Offensive Tackle. During his senior year, he became the starting Offensive Tackle. That year, he made the all-star team which consisted of local p[ayers.
**To read Ed's complete story, please check out the upcoming book release They Came From Blair County Volume 2 due out by the end of the year.
**Information for this article was obtained through a phone interview with Ed Flanagan
**Photos were provided by Ed Flanagan