The Top 5 Most Influential High School Football Coaches In Pennsylvania

Published : September 20, 2019

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High school football in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a family tradition. The state has produced some of the greatest players in the game at the prep level. Many of these gridiron giants have gone on to successful college and professional careers.

The influence of the men who have guided these great players is undeniable. These head coaches have been instrumental in earning Pennsylvania high school football its seventh-place rank in the country. Here are five of the most influential head coaches in Pennsylvania high school football history that have helped build this reputation for excellence.

George Curry

We begin our list of the most influential coaches in Pennsylvania high school football history with the man who amassed the most wins. The name George Curry is a legend across Pennsylvania sports, let alone high school football.

Curry piloted Lake-Lehman for four seasons and then took over the Berwick Area High School football program in 1971. During his 40 plus years at Berwick, Curry won over 400 games and six Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 3A state championships.

Curry retired from coaching in 2008 but returned to the Berwick Bulldogs on an interim basis for the 2012 season. He was named the USA Today high school coach of the year twice, and the Bulldogs were named the best team in the country three times during his stellar career.

His personal strength and private personality kept many from knowing that he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) in 2015. In April 2016, Curry passed away as a result of the disease. He is not only one of the most influential coaches in Pennsylvania high school football history; he is one of the best coaches in American football history.

Don Bailey

Winning in high school football has a natural way of creating an influence. After the legendary George Curry, the next most influential Pennsylvania High School football coach is Don Bailey.

Bailey walked the Forest Hills football sidelines in Sidman, Pennsylvania for 45 years. During his tenure as the boss of the Rangers’ football program, Bailey won 375 high school football games.

Ironically, a teachers’ strike during Bailey’s first season in Sidman forced his team to forfeit their first five games. Ending up 375-120 after more than four decades as a football coach is a tremendous achievement, especially when the first five contests were losses.

Prior to his 45th season, Bailey was presented with the Lifetime Contribution to Football Award during the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Central Pennsylvania Chapter’s 20th annual banquet in State College.

Bailey’s Rangers lost his final game at the PIAA District 6 Class 3A title game. The beloved head coach finished winning multiple district championships and will always be revered as one of the most influential head coaches in Pennsylvania high school football.

Mike Pettine, Sr.

Central Bucks West football in Doylestown, Pennsylvania has a long history of success. Much of that success was from the influence of one man, their head football coach. Mike Pettine, Sr. coached the Bucks for 33 incredibly successful seasons. During his time at CB West, Pettine, Sr. won more than 300 games.

Even more astonishing is that his teams’ lost only 42 football games across 33 seasons. The Central Bucks West football team won the final 45 games of Pettine’s career, including the 4A State Final in 1999. The Pettine coached Bucks also went through 55 opponents during the mid-1980s without losing a single high school football game.

His son Mike Pettine, Jr. played for him at CB West during the 55 game streak, plus went on to coach in the National Football League. Mike Pettine, Sr.’s influence is undeniable on Pennsylvania high school football and even impacted the professional coaching ranks.

Jim Morgan

When you spend more than a half-century involved in football, it shows a sincere love for the game. Jim Morgan dedicated his life to the game. He graduated from Allentown Central Catholic High School in 1964, then after a short stint coaching in Louisiana, returned to lead his alma mater.

Morgan would spend two different periods of coaching at Central Catholic. Head led the Vikings varsity football team from 1976 to 1982 and then returned for a 10-year span beginning in 1989. Morgan would leave ACCHS after the 1989 season, coaching at three different PIAA high schools before retiring.

During his coaching career, Morgan won 283 high school football games. His teams captured 2 PIAA State Championships and finished runner-up twice as well. Morgan won 10 East Penn Conference Championships, plus a Pennsylvania state record of 11 District XI titles.

His coaching excellence was awarded in 1994 when Morgan was privileged to be a head coach for the National High School All-American game. Morgan also was named head coach for the McDonald’s All-Star Classic three times. He is not only one of the most influential coaches in Pennsylvania high school football history, but one of the most decorated.

David Moore

You might not think a high school football coaching career that started out being on the wrong end of a 105 to 0 score would turn out to be successful. David Moore’s Pennsylvania high school coaching experience began in New Mexico with that exact result.

Moore had two seasons under his belt when he returned to his home state in the fall of 1978. He led Redbank Valley junior high school to a one-loss season that year. Moore was offered the Redbank Valley varsity football coaching position heading into the 1979 school year.

David Moore would call the shots for 18 seasons as a head varsity football coach, winning 118 games during that stretch. Moore’s teams won three conference titles and a pair of District 9 championships. His success earned him an induction into the Pennsylvania Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2019.

High school football is a family tradition in Pennsylvania. These are five of the most influential high school coaches that have helped build that tradition. There are lots of family traditions in the Quaker State, and another of those is The Shops @Rockvale in Lancaster. If you’re in the area, we’d love to see you. In the meantime, good luck this season to all the high school football teams across the great state of Pennsylvania.

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