Alexandria (WTAJ) — Juniata Valley football enters 2021 with a unique challenge, merging rival schools.
Due to low numbers, Williamsburg High School is co-opting a team with Juniata Valley, a move Hornets’ head coach Bill Musser sees as a long-term move. The change brings 17 new players to the program, while the Pirates’ head coach Ryan Hileman joins Musser’s coaching staff.
“Obviously initially there is the shock of hearing you might not have a team. I think after that initial shock wore off they understood where we had to go with this to give them an opportunity to play,” Hileman said.
The move pushes Juniata Valley’s roster past 50 players, a good number for a small 1A school. Musser believes the new competition at each position is invaluable and creates depth the team hasn’t had before.
Senior linebacker Ben Carolus echoed that sentiment.
“There is definitely talent coming down from Williamsburg and we have talent here,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge to win your spot over. There is nothing wrong with that. I’m excited for them to come down and see how they play with us,” he said.
Williamsburg and Juniata Valley have a natural rivalry, but coaches and players don’t expect the past to come between them. Musser stressing that this is one team, not two. With the alternative to not merging, being not playing, former Williamsburg quarterback Lambert Palmer is OK with his new green jersey.
“I mean, it’s just a jersey,” he said. “I’m just ready to play. As long as I get to play.”
Juniata Valley finished 6-3 in 2020, losing to Homer-Center in the district semifinals. The Hornets open the season at Tyrone.
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