SIDMAN, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — On Friday, Forest Hills School District is set to honor the legacy of Former Head Football Coach Don Bailey by rededicating the fieldhouse in his honor.
Bailey is a Cambria County Sports Hall of Famer. During his 45-year coaching tenure, Bailey led the Rangers to a 375-120-8 record. The team appeared in 17 district title games, winning 10 of them. They were also the 1994 state runner-up, losing to Mount Carmel 20-14 in double overtime at Mansion Park in Altoona.
During those 45 years of coaching, he was also an educator for 38. Of all the accomplishments, Bailey said he’s most proud of the people his players have become.
“I always ask them to be very good husbands, very good fathers, and very good citizens. And I would say the majority of those reached those goals,” Bailey explained.
Adam Cecere played for Coach Don Bailey in his final year of coaching. He reflects on the impact Coach Bailey had on his life.
One of those young men was his son Brandon. The current head coach of the Richland Rams, Brandon Bailey played under his dad Don in the 1990’s, winning a district title for Forest Hills.
“I learned as a player, coming out expecting to win you know, always expect that,” Brandon said. “Understanding that you have to put in that work in the off-season and put in that work during the week. Then on game night, it’s just a test after all the preparation is done.”
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Brandon got his first head coaching job in 2002, taking the helm of the Richland Rams. With his dad coaching Forest Hills until 2018, the two have actually faced off on opposing sidelines.
Brandon detailed, “I think it was sixteen times or something along there. So there were a bunch of Friday nights that we spent together. You know, sometimes we got the best of me and sometimes I got the best of him.”
On facing his son, Don explained that no matter the outcome, it was always going to be bittersweet. He said he hated seeing his son lose, but if he had to lose it was going to be against him.
The two’s coaching careers will come together one final time when Don’s name is enshrined on the Forest Hills field house as the Rangers host Brandon’s Rams.
Don said of the honor, “Very humbling. I’m very honored and very grateful to receive this honor. But the thing about it is it’s not just about coaching. It’s about my educational career as well. And that’s what makes it so much more important.”
The coaching careers of father and son have had many parallels. Don coached the Rangers to a district title four-peat from 1991 to 1994. Brandon and the Rams have had their own District 6 four-peat from 2018 to 2021.
Don said the only difference between the two may come down to longevity.
“Well, he certainly will be getting additional accolades down the road. But again, I don’t think you’ll see 45 years and I don’t think his wife will allow it,” Don said.
So will we see Brandon Bailey put 45 years into coaching?
He said with a smile as his father chuckled, “I highly doubt it.”
It remains to be seen.
Catch the highlights of Richland and Forest Hills on SportsBeat on Friday at 11:10 p.m., on WTAJ