Accounts that Some Guy Likes to Follow on Twitter Pertaining to High School Football in Pennsylvania

This was a big year for PFH – I gained somewhere around 1,000 followers, which is pretty good for an idiot with a Twitter account. Thanks to all of you who have joined in and reached out. I’m in the early stages of revamping the blog you’re currently reading, primarily by pushing for consistent posts to cover the history of football in our great Commonwealth. I have plenty to write about (and I’ve already started), but I want to put out the Bat Signal for submissions, as well. If you’re interested in providing an article for this blog, just get in touch via Twitter (@pa_fb_history) or email ( The only stipulations are that your topic pertains to high school football history in Pennsylvania and that you take care to write it from an objective point of view.  That’s it.

The main thing I wanted to do in this post was to recognize just a few of the people who make the online community surrounding Pennsylvania high school football fun to be a part of (at least it is most of the time). Not that I didn’t think these people existed beforehand, but my eyes were opened in 2019 to the huge number of people who provide amazing coverage of high school football in our state. My aim here is not to mention everyone who has done a great job; that would take far too long and I would still miss people. But I wanted to highlight a few writers (and others) who have found a way to make the cesspool called Twitter enjoyable through their passion for the game they cover.

    • Sykotyk (@sykotyk): The D.B. Cooper of high school football – anonymous and fascinating (although I’m fairly certain he’s not the type to hijack an airplane). I wouldn’t know Sykotyk if I bumped into him at a 6-man football game in eastern Montana, but I do know that he: (a) Could tell me everything about both of those 6-man teams and (b) Would do so with an undying passion for scholastic football. The man is incredible. He logs thousands of miles, nearly one-hundred games and innumerable stats, pictures, details, anecdotes and other bits of knowledge each season. He’s my favorite follow on Twitter and should rank highly for anyone else who loves high school football. One last thing: while this can be really difficult to judge in some situations on social media, Sykotyk is clearly a solid guy. Follow him (just not literally unless you have access to lots and lots of gasoline).
    • Chris Masse (@docmasse): If it weren’t for Cheltenham’s shocking run to the 5A state title game, the biggest story in this year’s playoffs would have probably been the Cinderella run made by Jersey Shore. A team with little historical success played in a few instant-classic games (especially a 3OT win over Pottsville on Nov. 22) before falling to Dallas in the 4A semifinals. And during it all, Masse was there covering every second of it. Following a local team’s surprisingly deep run into a state tournament can lead some sportswriters to sound a lot like fanboys, but Masse avoided this trap while conveying the excitement and awe that followed a town’s once-in-a-generation-type team. Doc gets bonus points for his detailed reporting of statistics and milestones reached throughout the season.
    • PGH Sports History (@PGH_Sports_Date): Hey, those of us in the sports history niche need to stick together, right? PGHSH covers all sports in the Pittsburgh area, but it’s one of the most reliably awesome high school football history sites around. You may not be a Pirates/Penguins/Steelers/Pitt/etc. fan, but the account is worth its weight in gold for its coverage of both the WPIAL and City League’s histories. Looking for newspaper clippings from the City League’s only state championship? Here you go. Classic articles from the great Mike White? PGHSH has those, too.
    • Bob Greenburg (@BobGreenburg): Bob recently tweeted the number of years he’s been covering high school sports in District 10 and he’s been doing it two years longer than I’ve been alive. Don’t worry, Bob – I’m only 11. He’d likely be the first to tell you that he’s outspoken about issues in scholastic athletics. And I didn’t include him on the list because I always agree with him, because I don’t. But the fact that he’s one of my favorite follows despite not always agreeing with him speaks to the respect I have for his historical perspective. Bob also is the author of one of my must-read Twitter threads each week where he strings together interesting historical and statistical tidbits pertaining to that week’s games. Here’s to many more years of being the voice of D10.
    • Pennsylvania Football News (@PaFootballNews): I’d find it hard to believe that a Pennsylvania high school football fan isn’t following PFN. Billy Splain and his cast of thousands blanket the state each week to report on games from every nook and cranny of the Commonwealth. They also extensively promote the college recruiting side of things, which isn’t a primary interest of mine but is to many others (not to mention the players themselves). I also included this account for nostalgic reasons. This tiny, almost completely unknown blog that you’re reading right now wouldn’t exist if my dad – who has never been much of a reader – hadn’t bought a PFN Resource Guide many years ago. It may be the only book my dad has ever purchased and I’m not sure how much he ever read it. However, I do know that his son absolutely devoured it. The work begun in the 1990s as a printed newsletter by Rich Vetock and Tom Elling continues today as likely the most visible media outlet devoted to the sport in Pennsylvania. For those of you who weren’t around then, this is what PFN looked like around the time my household got the internet and well before social media existed. Unfortunately, the link is broken to the page listing teams with open dates, so you’re out of luck if you need to find an opponent for the 2000 season.
    • Others deserving mention are: Mike White (@mwhiteburgh), Tom Reisenweber (@ETNreisenweber), EasternPAFootball (@EPAFootball), (@WPAFootball), Mike Drago (@MDrago59), Jeff Reinhart (@JeffReinhart77), The Steelers n’at (@thesteelersnat), (@D9Sports), WPIAL Football Zone (@AJWPIAL), Shayne Schafer (@shayne_schafer), & West Perry Football Stats (@wpfbstats).

Again, I’ve missed many, many awesome people who cover the game incredibly well. Apologies if you’re not listed; it just isn’t possible to mention everyone who helps to build this community around a game we all love. There is a comment section below – drop a shoutout to someone who isn’t listed here.


Some Early High School Football Games in Pennsylvania

The first known high school football games in Pennsylvania were played in 1885, per the Dr. Roger Saylor football record spreadsheets. Shortlidge-Media Academy played Pennsylvania Military College twice, losing 15-5 and 16-2. However, I may have found a few games that pre-date these contests and there’s a chance that further research could uncover more.

I tweeted out several clippings of games this evening, but I wanted to put them all in one post here for future reference. These were found using a simple search to cover years in the late 1870s and early 1880s; there may be more games out there for me to find in the future, but these are the games (or reports of cancelled games) that I’ve found so far.

Before I list the clippings, it’s important to go over a few things. First, because newspapers in the 1870s and 1880s were both hyper-local in their focus and not always full of detail, I’ve included some clippings here that may or may not actually be high school football games. I’ve had to make judgment calls here because local newspapers would often simply refer to “the football team” or “our football team.” If the newspaper is located in a town with a college, it’s tough to say whose football team it actually was. In this era, there is an additional layer of uncertainty because football teams may have also represented a local athletic club – such as a YMCA – or the town itself. Without further details, it is not entirely clear in some cases whether the game actually refers to the high school team, but I’ve included the games I’ve found that could at least plausibly refer to a scholastic team.

And about that idea of a “scholastic team”: in the 19th century, this concept was typically loose at best. Remember, this is well before interscholastic athletics had any kind of oversight or supervision to check the competitive urges of academic institutions. Pennsylvania didn’t have anything of the sort until the WPIAL was founded in 1906 and the PIAA didn’t come about for nearly another decade after that. What happens when teams want to win and there is a Wild West scenario in terms of eligibility requirements? Ringers. Teams with players in their early-to-mid twenties and even older. Players from other towns. Players who don’t – and maybe haven’t ever – attend that school. Today, teams with rosters like this are unheard of, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they were widespread. While they may have not been pure scholastic teams, everyone seemed to be playing the same game from a roster perspective until at least the late 1890s, so there is still an apples-to-apples comparison in my opinion. For this reason, I will still consider these high school teams to be scholastic programs.

Finally, there is a bit of a gray area in terms of which games should “count” as high school games in the pre-World War I era. This is often one of the reasons why a school’s all-time record may differ depending on the source. I tend to stick pretty closely to the games Dr. Saylor included in his team records, but this approach isn’t without its questions. Saylor noted that he only included games against academic institutions, meaning he omitted games against athletic clubs, railroad workers (seriously), and others. But this standard also means that teams have “official” (by Saylor’s reckoning) games against colleges, university JV or freshmen teams, trade schools, and others.

Now, onto the games:

Nov. 11, 1879: Pennsylvania Military Academy vs. unknown university. Didn’t I tell you that 19th century newspapers weren’t big on details? This article spends multiple paragraphs discussing the PMA football program and its recent game, but fails to mention who the team actually played. PMA is also almost certainly the same institution that Shortlidge-Media Academy played in 1885, which Saylor refers to as Pennsylvania Military College. It can be debated whether PMA itself at this point in time was a high school program, but I’m including them for now.

Nov. 24, 1879: Pennsylvania Military Academy vs. Chester HS (game scheduled, but not played). PMA later became Widener University. This clipping clearly states that the cadets were to play “high school boys,” but does not indicate which high school they would represent. Because PMA was located in Chester and the article was printed in The Delaware County Daily Times, the assumption would be Chester High School.

Nov. 17, 1882: Wilkes-Barre Academy vs. unknown university. Another game in which the article did not mention the names of both teams participating. Saylor’s record spreadsheets don’t seem to have a mention of a Wilkes-Barre Academy, but towns often had “academies” that ended up evolving into that community’s public school. I had at first thought it could have been an early incarnation of either King’s or Wilkes, but both of those universities were founded much later.

Nov. 30, 1883: Indiana Normal School vs. Indiana HS. Indiana Normal is now known as Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The article describes the Normal school playing against a team known simply as “Indiana.” Whether this team was comprised of Indiana High School students or community members is largely a moot point; as I said before, having “high school” teams that represented the community at large was commonplace during this era. Out of the four articles I found, this was the only one to include a final score, which reflects the scoring system used at the time (Normal 3 goals, Indiana 1 goal).

I’m going to continue researching this time period to see if I can come up with more articles that reference scholastic football games. I find it difficult to imagine that multiple high schools only played one or two games over a 10-year period, so it’s almost a certainty that other games were held during this era. Whether reports of those games made it into print is another question, however.