Penn-Trafford grad produces Western Pennsylvania football history book

Friday, August 30, 2019 | 8:59 PM

When Rush Pedder was 7 years old, his dad took him to a Penn-Trafford football game he called an experience of a lifetime.

He was hooked on high school football, especially Penn-Trafford football.

Through the years, Penn-Trafford football became a family tradition.

While in high school he did things to help the Penn-Trafford football program. After graduating from Robert Morris, where he worked in sports information and earned a bachelor’s degree in sports communications, Pedder was looking in a Penn-Trafford game program in 2015. He was checking out the Penn-Trafford statistical leaders and got interested in who was in the top 10.

By 2017, Pedder had published his first book, “Warriors: The history of Penn-Trafford football.”

Two years later, Pedder began embarking on a book about Jeannette, but a few weeks in he decided to change course and find out more about football across Western Pennsylvania.

“If you want to find out information about Pitt, Penn State or the Steelers, it’s easy to find,” Pedder said. “That’s not the case for high school information.”

Because he was an alumnus of Penn-Trafford, he started with his own school.

“When I started my first book, I figured it would be 25 to 50 pages,” Pedder said. “I was coming just to get all the scores. When I did, then I attempted to get all the summaries. It’s turned out to be 390 pages.

“The ‘Western Pennsylvania High School Football History’ book is 294 pages. It probably would have been more pages, but I wanted to ready by the start of this football season. I didn’t want it to come out in November.”

You want to know what coach has the most wins? It’s in the book. You want to know what team has the most victories in a certain county? You can find it easily.

The book covers statistics, records of the WPIAL, City League and the Pittsburgh Area Catholic League. It includes teams, players and coaches and has history of current and defunct teams.

He also had a complete list of WPIAL playoff games dating to 1915 when Wilkinsburg defeated Pittsburgh Fifth Avenue, 12-7.

“I didn’t call it the history of the WPIAL because it includes the City League, Catholic League and past WPIAL schools like Farrell, Ligonier Valley, Blairsville and Altoona,” Pedder said. “Getting this book together was a challenge because there were so many different records. I know there are probably some mistakes because things weren’t always correctly recorded.”

For instance, Pedder has Washington beginning the season with 696 victories. Washington said the team was at 697.

“Getting accurate team records was the hardest thing to get,” Pedder said. “There were times that I received four different numbers. In most cases, I referred to Dr. Roger Saylor’s records.

“Once you create a database, it opens up doors to other things.”

Pedder said he relied on records saved by Dr. Saylor and McKeesport historian Jon Smonski along with numerous Pittsburgh-area newspapers, including the Tribune-Review, Valley News Dispatch and the Standard Observer.

He credits numerous writers for their coverage of high schools athletics.

Some individual statistics were incorrect because some statisticians enforce penalties differently, and at least one statistician was including return yardage with rushing statistics.

“This is incomplete because things change week-to-week,” Pedder said. “If there are any mistakes, they’ll be corrected. I’m sure I’ll be updating this book. I already did an update on the Penn-Trafford book.”

The book is on sale at Natal’s Sporting Goods in Harrison City or by contacting Pedder at (878) 295-2262 or by email at

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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