Family has played a big part of the Parkersburg High School football tradition and famous brothers seem to be as commonplace as the victories that have come 795 times since 1900. Two of the most famous brothers will be the final inductees into the Class of 2012 of the PHS Football Hall of Fame this Friday night at Stadium Field as the Swisher brothers, Nick and Mark, will join the elite of the former Big Reds.
Although better known as a home run hitting major league baseball all-star, Nick Swisher's name is found throughout the Parkersburg football record book and usually at the top of the lists.
His name is among the leaders in scoring, rushing, kicking, receiving and even interceptions on defense.
As a sophomore in 1996, Swisher helped his team to a 7-4 record by scoring 49 points. As a junior the team went 11-3, losing in the state finals, a game Swisher had to miss with a shoulder injury. He led the team in receiving yards, was second in rushing with 962 yards and scored 65 points.
His senior year the versatile Swisher ran for 1,164 yards on just 140 carries and scored 17 touchdowns overall. He caught 16 passes and scored 160 total points as the team went 12-1 but lost in the semifinals to Nitro before one of the largest crowds to ever see a game at Stadium Field. He also had eight interceptions that year.
For his career he stands third on the all-time list in points scored with 274 and is seventh all-time in rushing with 2,229 yards on just under 300 carries. He is second in interceptions with 14 for his career and fourth with 10 field goals. He kicked 78 of 89 extra points including a record 32 in a row. His teams won 30 games.
He was twice named first team all-state running back.
He also managed to set a few records on the baseball field at PHS, establishing the state standard for home runs with 17 as a senior and is the only three-time all-state Big Red baseball player.
He was All-Big Ten at Ohio State before being drafted by the Oakland A's. He played four years in Oakland, one with the Chicago White Sox and the last four years with the New York Yankees, including a World Championship in 2009. He has 209 career home runs. His father, Steve Swisher, was a Big Red for one year and eventually became a major league all-star catcher himself.
There have only been two three-time first team all-state selections in the history of Parkersburg High School football. Ross McHenry was the first in 1920-21-22. Mark Swisher was nearly the second. Josh Jenkins later earned that honor in 2005-06-07.
Swisher barely missed making first team all-state as an offensive lineman in his sophomore year of 1999. He was first team all-conference and All-MOV as well as helping his team win a state championship with the first 14-0 season in the history of the state. His junior year he was an overwhelming all-state selection as a linebacker on the 12-2 Big Reds, again making all-conference and All-MOV. As a senior he again swept honors as a linebacker, making all-conference, All-MOV and All-State as the Big Reds won the state championship again, this time with a 12-2 record.
He started all 42 games the Big Reds played during his three year career and PHS won an amazing 38 of them.
As a senior he was also selected to play in the BACF All-Star game, which his team won and he was selected as the Defensive MVP after returning an interception a record 86 yards for a touchdowns. He was later selected to play in the North-South All-Star game and again he helped his team to victory.
He was also a four-year letter winner in baseball at PHS and a four-year starter in football at Fairmont State University, earning captain honors as a senior. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 2007 and is currently a licensed insurance agent in Columbus, Ohio.
"Big Red football is about tradition, honor and family," said Mark. "When you suit up and take that field, you are just not playing for yourself and your teammates. You are playing for all of the Big Reds who came before you and the ones who will come after you."