A database of every All-State football selection, one of the biggest projects I’ve ever attempted on this site, has finally been completed. It was begun in 2015, put on the shelf for a long time, and finally completed following about seven months of work throughout 2022. The result: a listing of all 18,836 known All-State football players from the first Associated Press team in 1939 through last season’s selections.
Before getting to the results of this project, there are a few things that I should detail and explain. This was a massive project and it will be beneficial to understand the caveats that may exist in the data:
- This data is based upon the All-State teams selected by five sources:
- The Associated Press (1939-2008). This was the original All-State selection source and was the only selector in the state for various stretches of time.
- The Pennsylvania Football Writers (2009-Present). In early incarnations it was called the Pennsylvania Sports Writers team. This organization of writers from across the state picked up the AP’s mantle when it decided to stop naming teams.
- The United Press International (1952-1984). The UPI chose teams were chosen by UPI writers until 1979, when they were selected by college football recruiters. The 1983 and 1984 teams were termed “The UPI Pride of Pennsylvania” teams and selected the 25 best players in the state rather than a full roster of players.
- Pennsylvania Football News (1998-Present). PFN chose between two and four teams per year based on classification until recently, when it has picked one team per classification with a larger number of slots (i.e., 3-4 quarterbacks make the team).
- PennLive (2018-Present). In 2018, PennLive began picking one offensive and one defensive team representing the best players in the state regardless of class. While it is by far the newest team included in this project, PennLive (and the associated Harrisburg Patriot-News) are, in my mind, the paper of record when it comes to statewide high school football. Thus, I included these teams.
All data from 1939 through 2011 were found in the 2012 Pennsylvania Football News Resource Guide. Selections from 2012-Present were found via many hours of internet research.
- The data is as complete as humanly possible. I’ve checked and re-checked the raw data in this project multiple times, but the size of it still allows the chance for errors to exist. I know there are bound be typos and name misspellings, but I am fairly confident that these should be few and far between. There were at times errors and typos in the source material for this project, but I have done my best to correct those. If you see a missing name and can provide evidence for its inclusion, please let me know (email@example.com or @pa_fb_history on Twitter).
- All-State selections vs. All-State players. On the sheets that show total All-Staters for each school, remember that these count each individual selection, not distinct players. For example, if a player was selected to two different All-State teams in the same year, that counts as two selections for the school’s overall tally.
- Schools are listed as they appeared in that year’s All-State list. I chose to list a player as representing the school he played for the year he was selected rather than use the school’s current name. This means that, for example, all selections for Downingtown are separated from those from Downingtown East and Downingtown West. The Saylor Record Spreadsheets often lump the “original” school’s statistics in with one of the new versions formed by a high school splitting into multiple buildings, but for consistency’s sake I decided to keep all of the school’s separated. If you’d like, you can simply find all of the past versions of your school’s program and lump their selections together to form an overall number – that’s up to you.
- Selections are heavily skewed to more recent years. The graph below illustrates how dramatic the rise in overall selections has been over time. This is for a few reasons. First of all, there are currently more services that select All-State teams than there were in various periods of history. Second, those selectors tend to choose more teams (i.e., a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and sometimes 4th team) than in early years of All-State teams. Third, selectors in the modern era often choose separate teams for each classification rather than use the original method of choosing one team for all of the programs in the state. Finally, there are more positions selected today than in the early era. For example, the AP (which began selecting teams in 1939) only chose offensive players until 1969. All of these factors combine to heavily favor more recent dynasties and strong programs than ones that existed prior to the mid-1970s. From 1939-1951, only 33 players were selected each year, with the exception of 1942 and 1944, when only 22 players were chosen. Today, an average of around 700 selections are made each year, with an all-time high of 787 in 2016.
In all, 711 different schools have had at least one All-State selection over the past 83 seasons. Check out all of the data below:
Top Ten Schools by Total Selections (click the link above to view all schools)
|SCHOOL||TOTAL ALL-STATE SELECTIONS|
|Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg)||176|
|St. Joseph’s Prep||170|
|Pittsburgh Central Catholic||157|
The Pennsylvania Football News Resource Guide, 2012 by Rich Vetock & Tom Elling (teams from 1939-2011)
PennLive.com (various teams from 2012-Present)
Newspapers.com (various teams and research to resolve corrections)
Pennsylvania Football News (PFN teams from 2012-Present)