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By NATALIE GORSUCH
Williamsburg Correspondent 

Williamsburg Football Starting Co-Op with Juniata Valley

 

August 26, 2021

For many Williamsburg residents, a fall Friday night was all about getting ready and heading to the Veterans Memorial Field to cheer on the beloved Blue Pirate football team. It seems that this long-standing tradition may be coming to an end.

Following a decision made by the Juniata Valley School Board on Wednesday, July 28, the Williamsburg Community School District voted for a co-op agreement between the Hornets and the Blue Pirates for the upcoming varsity football season during a special meeting the following day, July 29.

A co-op agreement with sports is nothing new for the school district – for the past two seasons, the junior high team has been playing with the Juniata Valley Hornets, and there is a wrestling co-op with Central as well. However, Williamsburg Athletic Director Bob Hearn said, "Nothing of this magnitude."

There are a few reasons for this co-op agreement, one being the number of team members for this upcoming season.

Superintendent Lisa Murgas said, "Our roster for the upcoming season was only 17 athletes, which includes 4 freshmen. The athletic committee, the administration and the board felt it was not safe nor sustainable to field a team."

"Juniata Valley is a neighboring school with similar demographics," Murgas said. "We co-oped with them the last two years for junior high football, and it worked very well."

Head Coach Ryan Hileman agreed. "We knew that our numbers would be down this year. We lost 11 seniors last year, and we had hopes of convincing some other students to come out and play. As the season came closer, we had to look at our numbers. At that point, we began exploring the option of this co-op agreement."

Juniata Valley Superintendent Michael Zinobile echoed the success of the co-op agreement. "Throughout the last two years, we have run a co-op with Williamsburg. The experience has been a positive one. We truly believe that a junior varsity/varsity co-op will be successful as well. We may have district boundaries that separate our schools, but Williamsburg students/athletes are still part of our area youth. We look forward to bringing our communities together to enjoy the exciting traditions of high school football."

For many of the active Williamsburg roster, this decision proved to be tough and emotional.

"The decision was not made lightly," said Hileman. "There were many discussions before either of the school boards met. However, once it was determined that this would be the route we were taking, I had a conversation with the players to explain that this is simply a new journey for them."

Hileman also said, "They may not be able to wear a Williamsburg uniform on the field, but they will still be representing our community with their play on the field."

Murgas announced that the band will be performing with Juniata Valley for stands music and the National Anthem and will be switching between pre-game festivities and halftime shows, weekly. The cheerleaders will also be on the sidelines cheering with the Juniata Valley cheerleaders. In reference to games such as Homecoming and Senior Night, Murgas said information would be announced to the public as soon as it comes in.

Juniata Valley High School is located at 7775 Juniata Valley Pike, Alexandria, PA 16611.

Juniata Valley Football Schedule

8/27 @Tussey Mtn. 7:00

9/3 @Tyrone 7:00

9/10 @West Branch 7:00

9/17 TBA 7:00

9/24 Everett 7:00

10/1 @Claysburg 7:00

10/8 N. Bedford 7:00

10/15 @Glendale 7:00

10/22 @Bellwood 1:00

10/29 S. Hunt. Co. 7:00

Editor's note: This article originally ran in the Aug. 5, 2021, edition of the Herald.

 

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