A Brief History of Parkersburg High School Football

This information came from the Parhischan, the Quill, the Pilgrim, the Parkersburg News, the Parkersburg Sentinel, and information received from Coach Ross McHenry, and Mr. and Mrs. John Summers.

Many schools have a rich tradition in high school athletics. Parkersburg High School is one of these schools to have such a glory filled past. Their history if filled with football success. Football began at PHS before the turn of the 20th century. Since this time, PHS has been one of the most respected football programs not only in West Virginia but also in the United States.

History shows that players used to go home after school and do chores and then gather around 6:00 PM for football practice. Records show that at one time games were played at Blennerhassett Island, the old YMCA field (located at the northeast corner of 13th St. and Murdoch Ave. on the site now occupied by the First Presbyterian Church, a vacant lot on 16th. Street, and at the present location on the Big Reds campus.

The early teams in Parkersburg were made up not only of PHS students but also from other community people. However, there were teams of PHS students only as early at 1895 or 1896 according to Boyd Carfer. In 1900 there was a student-only team from PHS. However, it was not until 1906 that players representing PHS were restricted to regularly enrolled students of the high school. The early teams did not always have coaches either. They were organized and coached by the players themselves. The first paid coach at PHS was Harry Bonner in 1907. PHS did not have an official coach in 1910 as student-player Greasy Neale coached the team. The first letters were presented in 1907.

The nickname of "Big Reds" came to PHS in 1915 with the arrival of assistant coach Ralph Jones who came from Dennison College. The Big Reds of Dennison were an athletic power at the time and their colors were red and white. This name has remained with Parkersburg High School.

The Big Reds have been playing on the present site since 1921 although the stadium stands were not there until 1923. The age limit in the early days was 21 as compared to 19 today, but boys were allowed to play after they came back from World War 1 if they enrolled in high school.

PHS played its first night game in 1930 under Coach Ross McHenry at Erie, Pa. The Big Reds won 6-0. The first night game in Big Reds stadium was in 1940 when the Big Reds beat Grantsville 59-0.

Parkersburg High School as been state football champions 16 times, which is more than any other school in West Virginia. They were champions by popular acclaim in 1918, 1919, 1921, 1922 and 1927. Starting in 1937, the Secondary School Activities Commission started recognizing champions based upon a poll of the sportswriters. The Big Reds won state championships by sportswriters vote in 1938, 1940 and 1943. They won championships on the field in 1950. 1958, 1976,1978, 1999, 2001, 2006 and 2007. The Big Reds have played in 1,145 games since 1900 and have a record of 799-323-39 for a 71.6% winning percentage.

All –State teams were not always selected as they are now. At one time, Harry Stansbury, the Athletic Director at WVU chose the All-State team. He did though gather the advice of the state sportswriters before naming the team. Ross McHenry was the only 3 time All-Stater in the history of PHS until Josh Jenkins joined him in 2007.

This successful history has built a tremendous tradition at PHS and made Big Reds football the pride of citizens of Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Parkersburg High School All-Time Individual Football Leaders
Game - 37, Pete Barnum (1920)  & Johnny Morris (1943)
Season - 236, Josh Romeo (2000)
Career - 412, Matt Lindamood (2005-2007)
Game - 6, Johnny  Morris (1943), Josh Romeo (2000), Gibby Welch (1922), Claude Crawford and Jack Armstrong (1917 in same game)
Season - 39, Josh Romeo (2000)
Career - 68, Matt Lindamood (2005-2007)
Game - 299, Ryan Holbert (2002)
Season - 2,473, Matt Lindamood (2007)
Career - 4,211, Matt Lindamood (2005-2007)
Passing Yards
Game - 343, Rick Marshall (1988)
Season - 2,075, Chance Litton (2004)
Career - 5,320, Marc Kimes (1999-2001)
Game - 10, Wes Ankrom (2008)
Season - 49, Jeremy Bell (2011)
Career - 94, Brad Johnson (1990-1992)
Receiving Yards
Game - 225, Stephen Roush (2009)
Season - 870, Ryan Rader (2001)
Career - 1,636, Brad Johnson (1992)
Parkersburg High School All-Time Team Football Leaders
Game - 120 points, 1917 vs. Middlebourne
Season - 525 points, 2000 (14 games)
Consecutive Victories - 23, 1939-1941
Unbeaten Streak - 37, 1939-1942 (36 wins, one tie)
Game Total Offense - 804 yards, 2000 vs. Herbert Hoover
Most Shutouts - 9, 1911 and 1998
Fewest Points Allowed - 8, 1911
State Championships -1918, 1919, 1921, 1922, 1927, 1938, 1940, 1943, 1950, 1958, 1976, 1978, 1999, 2001, 2006, 2007
All-Time Record - 791-305-39 (72.2% winning percentage), sixth most all-time victories in nation


(Information taken from NCAA record book and from an article by Tony Constantine in the 1987 WVU Football Guide).

From 1869 until 1883, scoring was mainly a mixture of rugby and soccer scoring rules. Kicking was emphasized in the early game. Walter Camp was the leader in establishing "American" football rules and in 1883 his scoring system gave one point for a safety, two points for a touchdown, four points for a goal after a touchdown , and five points for a field goal.

In 1884, a touchdown was raised to four points and a safety to two points. The point after a touchdown was reduced to two points. In 1898, the touchdown was raised to five points and the point after touchdown was lowered to one point. The field goal was cut to four points in 1904 and then to three points in 1909 where it has remained.

In 1912, the touchdown was raised to six points where it is today.

The forward pass became legal in 1906 when President Roosevelt threatened to ban football because it was so brutal with its tight formations. The size of the field was set to its present size in 1912. Before 1912, the size of the field varied to whatever was available. Also, ten yards and four downs to make it were established in 1912. Prior to this, it had been five yards and three downs to make it. The player limit had been cut from 25 to 11 in 1880.

Goal posts existed since 1876. They were placed on the goal line until 1927 when they were moved to the back of the end zone. They came back to the goal line in the late 1940’s. Today, the goalposts are at the back of the end zone.

PHSBigRedsFootball.com 2012 • Contact Webmaster