Monday, November 14, 2011

High School Football America On the Road in Pennsylvania

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

Phil Stambaugh, Pius X head coach
Copyright: High School Football America
I'd like to thank everyone for making October another record-breaking month for visitors to High School Football America and The High School Football Huddle.

Over the next couple of days, I'm going to spend some time chronicling my travels back east to Pennsylvania to continue filming my documentary Roseto's Royals that examines the relationship between the town of Roseto and its high school football team, the Pius X Royals.

Later this week, you'll learn about how you can become part of the project at

But until then...

This afternoon, I was on the practice field to watch the 10-1 Royals prepare for this Saturday's District XI Class A championship game against Shenandoah.  Pius is the third smallest school playing high school football in Pennsylvania.

According to the latest enrollment numbers from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association in 2009, Pius had 63 boys enrolled in the school.  Imani Christian is the smallest school with 42 boys, according to the PIAA; Bucktail, which lost 56-34 to Pius this season, has 53 boys enrolled.  Imani, in Pittsburgh, just ended its first year of varsity football, playing a six-game schedule.

While the Royals may be small in enrollment numbers, they have some big football numbers.

The Royals are led by second-year head coach Phil Stambaugh, who was a record-setting quarterback at Lehigh University and played in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A.J. Long, Pius X Quarterback (Sophomore)
Copyright: High School Football America
Stambaugh, who also played for two years in NFL Europe in Germany (Rhein Fire and Berlin Thunder), runs a wide-open pro-style offense that is building sophomore quarterback A.J. Long into a Division I prospect.

Last year, Long set a Pennsylvania record for passing yards by a freshman.  Long threw for 2,852 yards last season with 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

So far this season, the 6-foot, 180-pounder has thrown for 2,779 yards with 35 TDs and 8 picks.  Long, who has also rushed for 622 yards and 14 touchdowns, has completed 164 of 240 passes (68.3%).  His quarterback rating is 133, according to MaxPreps.

If Long continues on his current pace over his next two seasons, he'll shatter every state passing record.

Stambaugh's offense isn't just Long and one receiver.  Three players have caught over 30 passes, and overall, eleven different players have been on the receiving end of Long passes.  All 11 receivers are above 10-yards per reception.

The team's leading receiver Matt Camilletti (45 catches)  is the school's all-time leading receiver.  Junior Boise Ross, who has 37 catches, is averaging over 21 yard per grab, while senior Drake Freeman has 34 grabs with a 19.4 yards per reception.

J. Birney Crum Stadiu
Copyright: High School Football America
Earlier in the day, I stopped in Allentown...yes of Billy Joel fame, to snap some pictures of Pennsylvania's largest high school football stadium.  J. Birney Crum Stadium, built in 1948, has 15,000 permanent seats.  When the stadium was built, it seated 22,500 with plenty of space for standing room-only.

The stadium is named after legendary William Allen High School baseball, basketball and football coach J. Birney Crum.  Crum coached at the school from 1925 to 1950, leading the football team to 180 wins; and the basketball team to 490 wins.  In 1982, school officials changed the name of Allentown School District Stadium to J. Birney Crum to honor the man, who according to the school's website was the subject of a TIME magazine article entitled "Champs by Crum".

Copyright 2011: High School Football America 
The stadium itself was built because the school's original field, Coffield Stadium, with 15,000 seats, couldn't accommodate the number of fans that flocked to the west side of Allentown to watch Crum's Blue and Gold.

Right now, Allen shares the field with Dieruff High School and Allentown Central Catholic.  Dieruff was created when school officials split the district in-half in the mid-60's.

If you visit J. Birney Crum, don't forget to go a block away to try a Yocco's hot dog...I did!!

Yocco's Hot Dogs
Copyright: High School Football America
Two chili and cheese dogs, small pierogies and medium you can see by the pic.

Yocco's was founded in 1922 by Theordore Iacocca, uncle of Lee Iacocca.

You may notice that Yocco's is similar to Iacocca.  That's because the Pennsylvania Dutch in the area couldn't pronounce Iacocca, they said Yocco instead.

Tomorrow I think I'll stop at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium that was built in 1941, and holds 13,600 fans.  The grandstands at BASD, as it's known, were built with steel donated by Bethlehem Steel.

For those of you that don't know, Billy Joel was actually singing about Bethlehem in the song Allentown.  There were never any steel mills in Allentown.  Allentown was the home of Mack Trucks.

Bethlehem just didn't sound right in the lyrics.

Two famous national brands, separated by only 10-miles.

BTW...neither are around the Lehigh Valley anymore, so Joel's lyrics turned-out to be correct.

Bethlehem Steel, once the nation's second largest steelmaker, went out of business in 2003.  Mack Trucks is now based in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Me...I'm staying in Easton with mom.  Easton is the birthplace of Crayola Crayons and Dixie Cup, plus home to heavyweight boxing champ Larry Holmes.

As I wrote this, I could hear Joel's lyrics in my head...the factories are officially closed down.  As Joel, wrote, it was hard to stay, so I left for Chicago.

However, I'm back home for now, thanks to Roseto's Royals.  I'm at peace with the beauty of my area (special thanks to Trish Hoffman for that), known as the Lehigh Valley, and its people that don't change.  They never change, and that may have led to the area's downfall, but I don't care anymore.

In this day-and-age of economic turmoil, maybe we should all reflect on where we're all from, and the values that made this country great.  Maybe change isn't always good, if you lose sight of what's important.

Singing in my head....
And, I'm living here in Allentown...ah, least until Pius X wins a Pennsylvania state football championship for one great end to Roseto's Royals!

That's tonight's sunset.  Is this it's Roseto!

And, speaking of heaven, I'll tell you tomorrow why some believe a greater power smiled upon the tiny northeast Pennsylvania town.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

.. and this makes me miss my son. I'm glad you're there to document it though! :)