Tyrone grad has published a book on the history of Eagles football | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo courtesy Kerry Naylor displays copies of her book on the history of the football program at Tyrone Area High School.

By John Hartsock

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When the coronavirus pandemic first hit the United States in March 2020, many people locked themselves in their homes and forced to find alternative and constructive uses of their time.

Kerry Naylor, an English teacher in the Bellwood-Antis school district, made the most of the challenge.

Naylor, 48, a graduate of Tyrone Area High School, has authored a two-volume book on the 100-year history of the Golden Eagles football program from its inception in 1921 to the 2020 season.

It took Naylor 20 months to complete the book, which he completed in mid-November of this year. Title “Tyrone’s Football History: One Team, One Community and 100 Years of Defying the Predictions” it spans two volumes and totals 754 pages – 379 for volume I and 375 for volume 2.

It currently sells on Amazon.com for $ 26 per volume.

“I was wondering what I would do to pass the time that we were at home (at the start of the pandemic),” Naylor said. “It was a chance to take something extremely negative and turn it into a positive. “

Naylor’s work examines the continuing parallels of the resilience exhibited both by the Tyrone football program in its rich history and by the Tyrone community that resisted the uprooting of homes for the Route 220 bypass in the late 1960s. , as well as other changes such as the demolition of valuable buildings. and the closure of the town’s paper mill and railroad quarters.

“There have been a lot of times the town of Tyrone itself could have been left for dead, but the people of Tyrone are stubborn and they don’t like being told what to do,” Naylor said. “The football program follows the same arc.

The book chronicles the death of Benjamin Rich, who was killed while playing football for a club Tyrone team in 1897, and a consequent ban on the sport in the borough for the next quarter century.

The book also included a review of Tyrone’s heyday of football in the 1940s with legendary coach Steve Jacobs, and the career of Slug Drake – Tyrone’s most recruited athlete – in the 1950s.

Volume I details the exploits of the Tyrone football program up to 1970, and Volume 2 continues it through the present.

There is a segment on Tyrone’s 1999 PIAA Class 2A Championship season under the direction of head coach John Franco, and a look at the program’s other three appearances in State Championship matches – including the match for the 1940 East-West title with Shenendoah High School which ended in a tie, and Tyrone’s PIAA finalist in 1996 and 2011.

The book is more of a community narrative than just a game-by-game breakdown of Tyrone’s football seasons. It illustrates the importance of how the success of the football program uplifted the community after the unresolved disappearance of six-year-old Kathy Shea in 1965 and the homicide of another Tyrone girl, Melody. Curtis, in 1996.

There is a glimpse into the history of Tyrone’s Gray Veterans Memorial Field, which opened for football in 1934 and still stands today, and the history of the town’s former athletic park which hosted football before that.

An overview of other football programs across the state, including Altoona’s, is also included.

Naylor – who is also a sports writer for the Tyrone Herald newspaper – has done extensive personal interviews and research for the book, visiting the Blair County Courthouse and Tyrone Public Library, as well as rummaging through the archives of the newspapers.

“I think a lot of people who just love high school football in general would love this book, and if you just love stories in general you will probably like it too,” Naylor said.

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