We often think of all-state teams as being meticulously thought-out and analyzed, but from Scott’s own admission, this wasn’t the case for the inaugural edition in 1939. Scott’s recollection depicts him being told – during the season’s final game – that he should pick his own team for the AP. Following discussions with football people at that Clearfield vs. Blythe Township game, Scott published a team that he acknowledges missed on one player: Pittston’s Charlie Trippi. Give Scott credit for selecting players from across the commonwealth, though; virtually all corners of the state are represented. Of course, Scott’s greatest accomplishment was beginning the AP All-State team in the first place. The team was selected every year through 2008.
As an aside: Blythe Township won the game 12-0. The school fielded a team until the end of the 1958 season and its high school students now attend Pottsville.
One more thing – the birthplace of the AP All-State team still stands, but it hasn’t hosted a high school football game since the mid-1970s. It now serves as the grandstand for the Clearfield County Fair:
Fans across the state have had plenty to say about Pennsylvania’s move to six classifications for football ever since the decision was made earlier this school year. Instead of rehashing all of the debate that has occurred since then, I wanted to take a look at the new arrangement from a geographical perspective. State playoffs in football (and many other PIAA sports) are based around an East vs. West arrangement. In the past, this strict division hasn’t always been possible; for the past few seasons, the AAA winner of the Pittsburgh City League advanced into a subregional that played through the eastern bracket. In 2009, Clairton beat Bishop McCort for the Class A state championship, meaning no team in the final hailed from farther east than Johnstown.
There are, of course, other examples of the geographic breakdown of the state football playoffs not quite matching common sense. But these irregularities are based in the unequal populations of eastern and western Pennsylvania as a whole. This map of each football program in the state bears that out. Make the map full-screen and then check the boxes next to each classification to show or hide each school playing at that level over the next two seasons. This map groups teams by the classification they have chosen to play for if they decided to play up, so Aliquippa is grouped with 3A instead of 1A, the classification in which its enrollment initially placed it. All school enrollment information comes from this PIAA document, so please let me know if there are any errors that may need to be corrected.
As expected, the East – and District 1 in particular – dominates the large school classifications. In the new 6A class, the East-West alignment is as clear-cut as it could possibly be. The class is comprised of a bunch of schools from the Philadelphia-to-Allentown corridor, a number of Pittsburgh-area schools, and then a light smattering from across the rest of the state. Adding in the 5A schools does virtually nothing to change this distinct geographic separation of schools.
Classes 4A and 3A are more evenly spread across the state, with the exception of the sparsely inhabited north-central part of Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh area maintains a large number of schools in these classes, while the large-school dominance of suburban Philadelphia gives way to more schools in the south-central part of the state.
Down at 2A, the tables have completely turned from the larger classes, as a large number of schools from the far western part of the state make up a significant chunk of the class. The stretch from Washington to New Castle has a number of 2A schools, as does – to a lesser extent – the Coal Region.
The smallest class, 1A, has a fairly even spread geographically with the exception of southeastern Pennsylvania. In fact, only 7 teams in 1A are located east of Interstate 81.
What do you think? Share any observations or discussion points in the comments.
The Wins List has now been updated for all teams through the end of the 2015 season – you can check it out here. All 1,178 programs to record at least 1 game played by the Dr. Roger Saylor Football Records are included in the list. Before you look at the list, though, be sure to quiz yourself on naming all 113 programs with 500+ wins. Note that one of those programs is now defunct.
After you take the quiz, check out some observations of the list (SPOILER WARNING IF YOU’RE PLANNING ON TAKING THE QUIZ). Have anything to add or find anything cool/interesting/strange in the list? Let us know in the comments. And, as always, please let us know if there are any errors or corrections.