BEAVER SPRINGS - It was back in the second week of the season, the first home game at Juniata, and a lengthy lightning delay opened the door for plenty of chatter in the press box.
The folks associated with the home team were unhappy about the fifth week of the season - this week. They weren't unhappy about the opponent - the folks in Mifflintown are eager to play their cross-county rival in football again - but they were seeing red about the venue.
The game is between two Juniata County schools, they said - and it will not only be played out of town, but neither of the schools will get to collect what many expect will be a substantial gate.
Truth be told, that's not at all inappropriate at this juncture in the history of Juniata County football. East Juniata is the home team. West Snyder Elementary School is the location of its field. And there are nearly as many players from that school district suiting up in the contest.
This isn't your father's Oldsmobile, as the old ad slogan goes. And why should it be? When Juniata travels to East Juniata - well, to Beaver Springs - Friday, it will be the first meeting between the two gridiron programs since 1996.
"It's significant that this will be the first time East Juniata has had a home field," said East Juniata's first-year coach, Simon Cameron, who played for the school where he now coaches in the teams' last meeting. "We've always played at Dietrick Field. It was never a home field for us."
"We welcome our renewed rivalry with East Juniata," Juniata coach Gary Klingensmith said. "We played them I don't know how many times in the past. The first year I was here, 1969, I think was the first game we had with them. I think that's about the time they were in their second year, third year of football."
To put it in perspective, these teams have not met since the players who bring a driver's license to Friday's game were born. It was before recently departed Tiger coach Tom Feltman played. Before Tom Gravash and Al Ream coached the Tigers. Klingensmith - already a veteran coach that year - and Cameron are the ties to the past who have to bring back a lost rivalry.
The rookie knows his task may be the harder one.
"Whenever you have the accomplishments that Klingensmith has - he's been around a long time, he's won a lot of ball games - what he does works. That's why he's in the Hall of Fame," Cameron said. "There's definitely respect there. At the same time, you've got to respect every coach that you play against - and you want to go after them and knock them off."
But does that make it a rivalry? The harsh reality of this one is, the Tiger faithful have only one good night to remember from the prior meetings between the two schools. It was Oct. 2, 1992, when East Juniata not only won its only game against the Indians, but shut them out 13-0.
"Our kids have always been up for the game. It's the Juniata County championship, you know - I'm sure their kids will be up for it, too," Klingensmith said. "We just have to play some good, disciplined football."
Cameron concedes that the record favors the other team, but believes that, with his program boosted by a cooperative with Midd-West High School, this is the time to bring these two back together and see what history remains to be written.
"What we're hoping to do is turn it into a rivalry. In previous years when we played them, if you looked at it, Juniata always had a larger school, they had larger turnouts," he said. "Now we're drawing from the same size numbers - that should make it a little more fair, a little more interesting."
Part of that will mean getting the players from Snyder County to buy into the rivalry aspect of the game. Both coaches expect that to happen.
"It isn't the old East Juniata," Klingensmith said. "They have a lot more players now than they had before. From what I hear there might actually be more kids from Midd-West than East Juniata. This changes things."
But the fact that this is the first Juniata game for those players doesn't change the veteran coach's outlook.
"We consider it East Juniata and they call it East Juniata. We won't approach it any different," he said.
The kids on varsity today did play each other in junior high, which helped form a bond that will drive the Tigers, Cameron said.
"These guys have been playing together long enough. They are a team. They have the same feeling toward it the EJ guys do. They know what it means to EJ, and neither side wants to let the other side down," he said. "I don't think I need to worry about that. They're psyched for it. They realized the rivalry. It is Tiger football - you're still going Tigers vs. Indians."