Willie Thrower: A Forgotten Pioneer

On October 18, 1953, a crowd of 40,740 fans at Wrigley Field saw Bears coach George Halas – frustrated by the play of his starting quarterback, George Blanda – send an undrafted rookie into the game to lead his offense. With five minutes left to go and his team down 35-21, Willie Thrower took command of the Chicago offense and completed a pass to the 4-yard-line of their opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. Halas promptly re-inserted Blanda, drawing the ire of his team’s fans: “Blanda and [Fred] Morrison came into the game, and the crowd responded with a resounding razzberry. They wanted Willie to put it over.” Instead, Morrison scored the touchdown.

Thrower would return to the field, ending the game by throwing an interception to San Francisco’s Lowell Wagner. He would never attempt an NFL pass again. But despite going just 3-for-8 for 27 yards, Thrower had made history. He had become the first Black man to play quarterback in the NFL. He would never appear in an NFL game again.


Continue reading “Willie Thrower: A Forgotten Pioneer”

Pennsylvania State Championship Game Records – Team and Individual

A few days ago, we added a page where you can view every touchdown in state title game history. Today (just in time for the 2020 state championship games), we bring you more title game records. Use the links below to view the all-time team and individual results for all of the boxscore statistics @shayne_schafer and I could find. Some stat categories weren’t included in all boxscores, so you’ll see a yellow cell where there’s missing information. These lists will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Enjoy!

TEAM SINGLE-GAME RECORDS

Points Scored

First Downs

Total Plays

Total Yards

Rushing Attempts

Rushing Yards

Rushing Touchdowns

Completions

Passing Attempts

Passing Yards

Passing Touchdowns

Interceptions Thrown

Fumbles

Fumbles Lost

Penalties

Penalty Yards

Punts

INDIVIDUAL SINGLE-GAME RECORDS

Rushing Attempts

Rushing Yards

Rushing Touchdowns

Completions

Passing Attempts

Passing Yards

Passing Touchdowns

Interceptions Thrown

NCAA Quarterback Rating

Receptions

Receiving Yards

Receiving Touchdowns

Total Touchdowns

Points Scored

Pennsylvania Playoff Territory Map, Championship Round

Somehow, some way, we’ve made it to the state finals. Friday and Saturday will feature three games apiece and six teams will leave Hershey as state champions. Let’s take a look at the territory maps one final time, provided as always by friend of the program @SportsPSD. Remember to contact him if you need a helmet or uniform redesign for the 2021 season – he does fantastic work!

Continue reading “Pennsylvania Playoff Territory Map, Championship Round”

Pennsylvania Football Playoff Territory Map, Semifinal Round

Twenty-four teams remain in the race for a trip to Hershey next weekend, meaning that our playoff territory maps have consolidated significantly. I’ll cut down on the commentary in this week’s post, but I’ll replace the text with each of the three iterations of maps we’ve published so far so that you can see how territory has changed hands over the course of the playoffs. As always, these maps couldn’t be possible without the help of Gus (@SportsPSD), a truly talented helmet and uniform designer who would be happy to help you redesign your team’s look for 2021. Be sure to reach out to him this off-season!

CLASS 6A

Round 1 map:

Quarterfinal Round map:

This week’s map:

Matchups:

McDowell vs. Central York at Altoona, Saturday @ 1:00

St. Joseph’s Prep vs. Souderton at Cardinal O’Hara, Saturday @ noon

CLASS 5A

Round 1 map:

Quarterfinal Round map:

This week’s map:

Matchups:

Pine-Richland vs. Governor Mifflin at Hollidaysburg, Saturday @ 1:00

Cathedral Prep vs. Upper Dublin at Hollidaysburg, Friday @ 7:00

CLASS 4A

Round 1 map:

Quarterfinal Round map:

This week’s map:

Matchups:

Oil City at Thomas Jefferson, Friday @ 7:00

Jersey Shore at Lampeter-Strasburg, Friday @ 7:00

CLASS 3A

Round 1 map:

Quarterfinal Round map:

This week’s map:

Matchups:

Bedford vs. Central Valley at Altoona, Friday @ 7:00

Danville at Wyomissing, Saturday @ 1:00

CLASS 2A

Round 1 map:

Quarterfinal Round map:

This week’s map:

Matchups:

Beaver Falls vs. Wilmington at Geneva College, Friday @ 7:00

Southern Columbia vs. Bishop McDevitt (12) at Selinsgrove, Saturday @ 1:00

CLASS 1A

Round 1 map:

Quarterfinal Round map:

This week’s map:

Matchups:

Jeannette at Reynolds, Friday @ 7:00

Bishop Guilfoyle at Steelton-Highspire, Saturday @ 1:00

Pennsylvania Football Playoff Territory Map, Quarterfinal Round

It’s hard to believe, but we are down to just eight teams (seven in 6A) remaining in each classification in the state. Last week, we unveiled our playoff territory maps with the help of Gus (@SportsPSD), a good friend of PFH. As a reminder, Gus is a tremendous resource for any programs looking to redesign their helmets or uniforms for next year, so be sure to reach out if you’d like your program to have a fresh look in 2021.

This week will feature the biggest changes of the playoffs as each classification lost eight teams from last weekend. Let’s take a look:

CLASS 6A

Last week’s map:

This week’s map:

Altoona’s dominance of Central PA was split up after the Mountain Lions fell to Delaware Valley. Central York and Pittsburgh Central Catholic ate into Altoona’s former space while St. Joe’s Prep added Chester County despite not playing last weekend.

CLASS 5A

Last week’s map:

This week’s map:

One of last week’s busiest maps cleared up considerably following last weekend’s action. Cathedral Prep, Pine-Richland and Peters Township stack atop one another in Western PA and the southeastern corner of the state is much more orderly. While Warwick was forced to forfeit this week’s game to Governor Mifflin, they’re still included in this map because they “earned” the territory shown for this week by beating New Oxford.

CLASS 4A

Last week’s map:

This week’s map:

With one notable exception, every game in 4A this weekend features teams whose territories border one another. Oil City and Upper Moreland, however, couldn’t be located further apart on this map and will meet in Hollidaysburg for the right to go to the state semifinals. The WPIAL final between Aliquippa and Thomas Jefferson figures to be one of the state’s most highly-anticipated games and will dictate who controls the southwestern corner of this map.

CLASS 3A

Last week’s map:

This week’s map:

One major change on the 3A map involves the Philadelphia area. The map was created prior to Neumann-Goretti being forced to forfeit due to COVID, so Archbishop Carroll took its place and will play at Danville this weekend. Lots of territory in Western PA is on the table this weekend as Hickory plays Bedford and Central Valley meets Elizabeth-Forward for the WPIAL title.

CLASS 2A

Last week’s map:

This week’s map:

Last week’s frenetic 2A map became quite organized following the first round games. Southern Columbia dominates Northeastern PA and Beaver Falls controls only Beaver and Butler Counties, but the rest of the teams have roughly equal chunks of the commonwealth.

CLASS 1A

Last week’s map:

This week’s map:

In the first round, the 1A map represented a quilt of little fiefdoms, but those consolidated greatly following the games played last weekend. A devil and a steamroller control all of Eastern PA, while this week’s Reynolds-Redbank Valley and Clairton-Jeannette games will sort out the west. Homer-Center controls only its home county of Indiana, but that would change if they could knock off Bishop Guilfoyle.

Pennsylvania Football Playoff Territory Map, Round 1

Somehow, some way, we have arrived at the 2020 Pennsylvania high school football state playoffs. In this bizarre season, I thought it would be interesting to take a new approach to looking at the remaining teams state-wide. Territory maps have been around for a few years now at the college football level and this year a few people have taken it upon themselves to create them for high school football, too. Pennsylvania should be no different, right?

Continue reading “Pennsylvania Football Playoff Territory Map, Round 1”

The Wins List: Post-2019 Update

Just in the nick of time (hopefully), the statewide all-time wins list has been updated. Right off the bat, I want to make it clear how these totals have been tabulated. The Saylor Football Records Collection includes all known game scores – and, thus, win totals – for every Pennsylvania high school team since 1885. Those records ceased being updated after the 2010 season, a few years before Dr. Roger Saylor’s death in 2013. This site has tried to pick up where Saylor’s records left off to produce a yearly update to the all-time program wins list, which is linked below. Team records from 2011 to the present have been found via MaxPreps, CalPreps.com, EasternPAFootball.com and various news articles as needed.

NOTE: Because various sources of team records have been used and because Dr. Saylor did not include results against opponents who did not represent an educational institution, there may be inconsistencies between the numbers seen here and elsewhere. If you notice a discrepancy and have sources to offer, please contact me at pafbhistory at gmail dot com or on Twitter @pa_fb_history. The utmost care has been taken to compile the most accurate team records as possible, but I’m a human and humans are capable of mistakes at times.

Before we get to the link for the entire spreadsheet documenting all-time records for 1,149 programs, let’s take a look at some highlights of this year’s list:

The Ten Winningest Programs in State History

  1. Mount Carmel – 866
  2. Easton – 844
  3. Berwick – 825
  4. Jeannette – 756
  5. Steelton-Highspire – 754
  6. New Castle – 744
  7. Aliquippa – 734
  8. Coatesville – 721
  9. Williamsport – 717
  10. Washington – 710

In all, 13 schools have reached 700 all-time wins. Central [Philadelphia] (709), Penn Charter (706) and Huntingdon (700) join those listed above.

The Winningest Program by PIAA District

District 1: Coatesville (721)

District 2: Berwick (825)

District 3: Steelton-Highspire (754)

District 4: Mount Carmel (866)

District 5: Windber (637)

District 6: Huntingdon (700)

District 7: Jeannette (756)

District 8: Westinghouse (572)

District 9: DuBois (622)

District 10: Sharon (675)

District 11: Easton (844)

District 12: Central [Philadelphia] (709)

Independent: Penn Charter (706)

Winningest Teams by Decade of the Program’s Debut

1880s: Berwick (825)

1890s: Mount Carmel (866)

1900s: Jeannette (756)

1910s: Aliquippa (734)

1920s: Tyrone (648)

1930s: Ridley (694)

1940s: Wilson [West Lawn] (570)

1950s: Cumberland Valley (523)

1960s: Southern Columbia (527)

1970s: Harrisburg (324)

1980s: Strath Haven (287)

1990s: Delaware Valley (157)

2000s: Imhotep Charter (147)

2010s: Central Valley (98)

Winningest Defunct Programs

  • 1. Wilkes-Barre Coughlin – 656 (last played in 2018)
  • 2. (tie) Lock Haven (last played in 1998) & Wilkes-Barre GAR (last played in 2018) – 516
  • 4. Wilkes-Barre Meyers – 512 (last played in 2018)
  • 5. Wilkinsburg – 509 (last played in 2015)
  • 6. Scotland School – 489 (last played in 2008)
  • 7. Duquesne – 488 (last played in 2006)
  • 8. Millersburg – 476 (last played in 2019)
  • 9. Monaca – 475 (last played in 2009)
  • 10. Johnsonburg – 441 (last played in 2012)

Most Wins By a Team With a Sub-.500 All-Time Record:

Chester: 540-586-89 (.481 winning percentage)

Fewest Games Played By a Team With __ Wins:

Fewest games by a team with 800+ wins: Berwick (1,208 games)

Fewest games by a team with 700+ wins: Aliquippa (1,101 games)

Fewest games by a team with 600+ wins: Ridley (911 games)

Fewest games by a team with 500+ wins: Southern Columbia (725 games)

Number of Schools with __ Wins

Schools with 800+ wins: 3

Schools with 700+ wins: 13

Schools with 600+ wins: 45

Schools with 500+ wins: 137

Schools with 400+ wins: 266

Most Games Played, All-Time

When you play a lot of games, you are likely to rack up lots of wins and also a good number of losses over time. With four more wins in 2020, Pottsville would become the state’s first member of the 700 Win, 500 Loss club.

  • 1. Pottsville – 1,272
  • 2. (tie) Easton & Mount Carmel – 1,256
  • 4. Williamsport – 1,253
  • 5. Steelton-Highspire – 1,248
  • 6. New Castle – 1,223
  • 7. West Chester Henderson – 1,222
  • 8. Chester – 1,215
  • 9. Central [Philadelphia] – 1,210
  • 10. (tie) Berwick & Wilkes-Barre Coughlin – 1,208

Most Ties, All-Time

Chester will hold this record forever because ties in high school football are now exceptionally rare, only occurring in unusual circumstances like games being cancelled part-way through for weather.

  1. Chester – 89
  2. Scranton Central – 70
  3. New Castle – 69
  4. Northeast [Philadelphia] – 66
  5. West Philadelphia – 64
  6. Central [Philadelphia] – 61
  7. Charleroi – 60
  8. (tie) Mount Carmel, New Brighton, West Chester Henderson & Connellsville – 59

Most Losses, All-Time

This list isn’t meant to be disparaging in any way. In fact, it’s more of a testament to the longevity of the programs that comprise it. Reading, Roman Catholic and Chester have all won more than 500 games and Lebanon, Pottstown and Radnor aren’t far from reaching that milestone themselves. The youngest program on this list is Scranton, which has fielded a team since 1909; six of these schools have had football since the 1800s.

  1. Lebanon – 661
  2. Reading – 625
  3. Roman Catholic – 602
  4. Union City – 595
  5. South Philadelphia – 591
  6. Pottstown – 589
  7. Chester – 586
  8. Scranton – 583
  9. Norwin – 577
  10. Radnor – 573

The “99 Club”

These schools currently sit just one win away from their next milestone:

699 Wins: Greensburg-Salem & Dunmore

499 Wins: North Hills

399 Wins: Mount Union & Wyoming Area

299 Wins: Allderdice, Hughesville, Great Valley & Penns Manor

Highest Winning Percentage, All-Time

It’s only fair to show the teams with the highest winning percentage after playing a certain number of games; Berks Catholic currently has the highest winning percentage of any program in the database, but was founded in 2011 and has only played 116 games. At the 200 and 300 game levels, former northeastern Pennsylvania power Blakely takes the top spot. Blakely played from 1936 to 1968 and is now part of Valley View. Legendary Dunmore head coach Jack Henzes played for his father, “Papa Bear” Henzes, at Blakely in the 1950s. From 400 games through 900 games, Ridley takes the top spot and only relinquishes it to Mount Carmel at 1,000 games because the Raiders have (so far) only played 911 games all-time. Ridley is almost assured to take the lead in each of the successive milestones barring a massive downturn in the program’s historic success.

Min. 100 games: Berks Catholic (.828, 96-20-0)

Min. 200 games: Blakely (.817, 252-51-14)

Min. 300 games: Blakely (.817)

Min. 400 games: Ridley (.776, 694-191-26)

Min. 500 games: Ridley (.776)

Min. 600 games: Ridley (.776)

Min. 700 games: Ridley (.776)

Min. 800 games: Ridley (.776)

Min. 900 games: Ridley (.776)

Min. 1,000 games: Mount Carmel (.713, 866-331-59)

Min. 1,100 games: Mount Carmel (.713)

Min. 1,200 games: Mount Carmel (.713)

I’ll stop there, although I could go on for quite a while longer. I’ll let you give the entire list a look. As an aside, you’ll see 32 schools in the spreadsheet with no data; I’m still tracking them down, but I left them in the database for now.

The Wins List (Post-2019 Season)

The Brief but Fascinating Life of Harrisburg Tech

It shouldn’t be surprising that historical research often opens a window into what life was like decades – or even centuries – ago. But sometimes the most entertaining history involves how little things have changed and, even more importantly, how things in the past seemed to mimic or predict the current day. For example, if I told you I had a story about strife between PIAA members regarding school boundaries and the use of players who live outside of those lines, you’d probably assume it was from 2020. But in at least one case, you’d be wrong; this particular debate has existed for a century. The school in question even played teams from a number of different states and had some hurdles to clear pertaining to academic eligibility. All are dry kindling waiting to be ignited by the arguments, debates, baseless accusations and internet hot takes of the present, but they were in fact played out in this situation on the dusty fields of the post World War I era. Sometimes, as the cliché goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Continue reading “The Brief but Fascinating Life of Harrisburg Tech”

Pennsylvania High School Alums on the FWAA’s All-American Teams

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) has been naming All-American football teams since 1944. I recently stumbled upon this guide featuring every team from that year through the 2019 selections. Naturally, I looked for any Pennsylvania connections and found our state well-represented throughout history. The FWAA selection is a long-standing All-American team, but is certainly not the only organization that chooses one.

  • Depending on whether you consider Eddie George an alumnus of a Pennsylvania high school, either 112 or 113 Keystone State grads have been named to the team from 1944-2019. George (Abington) spent the majority of his high school career at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. Not counted is defensive end Patrick Kerney, who was a native of Newtown but attended prep schools in both New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • No Pennsylvanians made the inaugural team in 1944. The first All-American named to the FWAA team was John Mastrangelo of Vandergrift High in 1945. A guard at Notre Dame, Mastrangelo made the second team in 1945 and the third team in 1946. These were some of the few years throughout the FWAA’s history where more than a first team were selected. Vandergrift is now part of Kiski Area.
  • After having seven total selections in the first four years of the team, Pennsylvania had 10 selections in 1948 alone. Other than that year, however, the state has produced a fairly consistent number of selections on an annual basis:All-Americans from Pennsylvania High Schools by Year
  • Two high schools have had four selections: New Castle and Bethlehem Liberty.
    • New Castle: Albert Tate (DT, Illinois – 1950), Bruce Clark (DL, Penn State – 1978 & 1979), and Malik Hooker (DB, Ohio State – 2016).
    • Bethlehem Liberty: Chuck Bednarik (C, Penn – 1947 & 1948), John “Bull” Schweder (G, Penn – 1949), and Mike Hartenstine (DL, Penn State – 1974).
  • In addition, six other schools – four of which are located in the WPIAL – have had three selections apiece.
    • Turtle Creek (now part of Woodland Hills): Leon Hart (E/T, Notre Dame – 1947, 1948 & 1949).
    • Northampton: Bob Novogratz (G, Army – 1958) and Dennis Onkotz (LB, Penn State – 1968 & 1969).
    • McKeesport: Bill Miller (E, Miami – 1960 & 1961) and Brandon Short (LB, Penn State – 1999).
    • Hopewell: Tony Dorsett (RB, Pitt – 1975 & 1976) and Paul Posluszny (LB, Penn State – 2005).
    • Penn Hills: Bill Fralic (OL, Pitt – 1983 & 1984) and Aaron Donald (DL, Pitt – 2013).
    • Wilkes-Barre Meyers (now part of Wilkes-Barre Area): Raghib “Rocket” Ismail (KR, Notre Dame – 1989 & 1990) and Qadry Ismail (KR, Syracuse – 1991).
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, Penn State (30 selections) is the most common college for Pennsylvania high school alums named to the FWAA teams. Notre Dame (16) and Pitt (15) round out the top-three. After that, there is a large drop-off to fourth-place Army (5).
    • Penn (3 selections, all of which came from Bethlehem Liberty grads) is the only other Pennsylvania university represented.
    • Schools with just one Pennsylvania native named to the FWAA teams: Dartmouth, North Carolina, Illinois, Purdue, Tennessee, Kansas, Kentucky, Florida, Rutgers, Minnesota, Florida State, California, SMU, Tulsa, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
  • Thirty-five of the selections played on the offensive line. The next most popular position is running back, with 21 selections. There have been 12 linebackers chosen.
  • Thirteen players have been chosen for multiple FWAA All-American teams:
    • Arnold Galiffa (B, Army – 1948 & 1949)
    • Fralic
    • Miller
    • Clark
    • Bednarik
    • Onkotz
    • Mastrangelo
    • Johnny Lujack (B, Notre Dame – 1946 & 1947)
    • Keith Dorney (OL, Penn State – 1977 & 1978)
    • Hart
    • Raghib Ismail
    • Tom Skladany (P, Ohio State – 1974 & 1975)
    • Dorsett
  • For the full list of FWAA All-American selections, click here.

Fights and Forfeit: The 1928 Minersville-Shamokin Football Game

Note: This post was written by friend of the blog Shayne Schafer. Follow Shayne on Twitter for more Schuylkill County football history: @shayne_schafer. If you have an article you’d like to contribute to this site, send an email to pafbhistory@gmail.com.


On Saturday, October 28th, 1928, the Shamokin Greyhounds traveled to Minersville for an early-season clash. Minersville (2-1) had picked up shutout wins over St. Patrick’s and Pottstown. The Miners had multiple starters out after a rough Week 2 loss to Hazelton. Shamokin (0-2) hoped to take advantage and get back on the right track after two close losses to Mauch Chunk and Wyoming Seminary. Spirits were high and the Shamokin-Dispatch reported on the festive attitude of those supporters making the trek to Minersville.

M. A. A. Park
The setting for the matchup, M. A. A. Park was the home of Minersville High School athletics until 1935. Now Kings Village Plaza, Minersville Park was also the home of the Pottsville Maroons. | Photo courtesy of Ronald M. Coleman and Joseph E. Szeliga

Things didn’t go as planned; Shamokin forfeited with less than two minutes left in the game. The reports of this game would be wild, with stories of fans rushing the field, fights, cheating, dirty play, and inhospitable conditions created by Minersville and its supporters. Interestingly, depending on whose town’s newspaper you read, you would get a completely different account of what occurred.

Continue reading “Fights and Forfeit: The 1928 Minersville-Shamokin Football Game”