Field of Dreams: Brooke’s Billiard Honored for Success

WELLSBURG — The name Paul “Bud” Billiard is synonymous with Brooke High School football.

And rightly so.

Billiard guided the Bruins to the grandest of heights during his 23-year tenure (1979-2001) as head coach. The 1959 Wellsburg grad compiled a sparkling 185-79-1 mark.

The impressive record is just the tip of the iceberg.

Bud’s Bruins captured three West Virginia Class AAA state championships: 1985, ’87 and ’90, the last two squads securing the brass ring with perfect records while also being ranked nationally.

Brooke earned postseason berths 15 years under Billiard’s tutelage. In addition to his three WVSSAC title teams, the Bruins finished as state runnersup on four more occasions. Billiard’s teams pocketed seven OVAC championships.

Such glowing success does not go unnoticed. He was inducted into the OVAC Hall of Fame in 2006.

Billiard has another prestigious honor awaiting him Thursday night when Brooke launches its 2018 season, playing host to rival Wheeling Park. Prior to kickoff at Brooke Memorial Stadium, Paul S. “Bud” Billiard Field will be christened paying tribute to the coaching legend.

“This mean’s a great deal to me. I hope I am deserving of such a special honor. When you think about it you realize that you did not do it yourself. A lot of people went into our success and what the school is today,” Billiard said. “Any recognition I have received I have tried to do in a collective way because I have had so many people help me along the way.

“God blessed me with a great staff. They bought into what I was selling (philosophy). I am truly humbled with this special honor. Brooke football will always have a special place in my heart.”

Billiard served as a Brooke assistant for eight years before being elevated to the head post. He was also the Bruins’ head wrestling coach for six years and head track coach for three springs. Prior to coaching at Brooke, he spent four years as an assistant coach in football at Wheeling Central.

After his playing days at Wellsburg High, Billiard matriculated to West Liberty State College. He was a four-year varsity letterman in football playing on both the offensive and defensive lines. Billiard earned first-team All-WVIAC laurels as an offensive lineman after his junior campaign. He was named a captain and first-team all-conference on defense as a senior.

“I reminisce often about those days. Those were phenomenal times with phenomenal players with great administrators and a passionate fanbase. I tried to keep our goals simple and attainable. We wanted to be 1-0 each week,” Billiard said. “If you reach them one at a time they accumulate. Your remember the wins but you never forget the losses.

“We wanted football to be more than just a game for our players. We wanted it to be a positive experience. We wanted them to appreciate the places we went to and the people we played. We took pride to another level. The outpouring of congratulatory comments I have received since this has been announced has been amazing. I just hope I am worthy of this. It will be a very emotional night.”

Among Billiard’s other honors include: West Virginia Coach of the Year; Upper Ohio Valley Dapper Dan Man of the Year; Carl Hamill Coaching Award; West Liberty State College Athletic Hall of Fame; the Ohio Valley Football Coaches Hall of Fame; H.V. Corcoran Sr. Award for the Brooke football program bringing national attention to the Ohio Valley and a 2005 recipient of the West Virginia Athletic Coaches Association’s Retired Coaching Award.

“I was fortunate to have had several great mentors,” Billiard said. “Andy Urbanic, Albert Blatnik and George Kovalick all played major roles in my success.”

Thursday’s festivities at Brooke Memorial Stadium will commence at 5 p.m. with a social for family, friends and well-wishers on the field. The actual dedication will take place around 6:30.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank our Boosters Club, Touchdown Club and our Football Moms,” Billiard said. “Our Boosters bought the blazers and ties all our players had. We took pride in that as no one could tell what type of backgrounds these kids came from. They were all equal in that respect.

“Our Touchdown Club put on a dinner after the season for players and staff that was second to none. And our moms fed us before games and when we went on the road they were always there feeding the players and coaches for the ride home. The Brooke County sheriff would give us an escort to and from every away game,” he said. “Our people took pride in everything we did. It was a special place at a special time with special people. We tried to be an elite program.”

It’s safe to say, mission accomplished.

Bubba Kapral can be reached via email at: bkapral@timesleaderonline.com

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