End of an era
Tigers fight hard but fall in final game in program history
HEGINS — There were tears in the eyes of some, others with heads down, as the silent force of inevitability came crashing down on the East Juniata football team, coaches and fans in the final game of the program’s 50-year history on Friday.
The final score, 14-0 in favor of Tri-Valley, was more an afterthought to the Tigers and their maroon and gray clad supporters. Only one thing was on their minds; East Juniata football is no more. All that’s left after half a century is statistics and memories.
When the clock reached zero, the players and coaching staff gathered together to share hugs, tears and words of encouragement. No one wanted to leave the field.
“To be honest with you, I’m ripped up inside. It’s been tough these past eight months. It’s easy to point fingers and say this is why we shouldn’t have football. I say this is why we should have football,” Tiger coach George Miskinis said with tears welling in his eyes. “Three years ago, this is a team that would be happy to have two wins and score a couple of times. It didn’t matter if we got blown out. To gain respect and have character while you’re doing it was our goal and I think we accomplished that. We made the kids better for it and they played hard all the time.”
The Bulldogs (7-3, 6-3) had a five-yard touchdown run in the second quarter from Dan Scheib, a PIAA Class 2A state runner-up in wrestling last season, and a fourth-quarter score on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Logan Yoder to Ashton Buchanan with 5:53 left in the game.
East Juniata (4-6, 3-6) had numerous opportunities in Tri-Valley territory, but penalties and miscues meant the Tigers would fail to get any points on the board.
“I’m extremely proud of all our kids. It was a total team effort. They played their hearts out offensively and defensively. We moved the ball but we sputtered on certain drives and some calls didn’t go our way,” Miskinis said. “We never did overcome that. We felt good going in down 7-0, and we felt good coming out for the second half. We had opportunities but couldn’t do anything with them. Hats off to Tri-Valley. They stopped us when they needed to.”
With 5:49 left in the game, Miskinis brought his squad together and told them they had five minutes left as a program. Don’t let up.
The Tigers didn’t, driving the ball down to the Bulldog 20 before failing to convert a fourth down.
“They did East Juniata proud. They did Midd-West proud. They gave it their all. Some were banged up and some wanted to go back in even though they were injured,” Miskinis said. “Through it all our kids have nothing to be ashamed of or hang their heads over. They played their hearts out every week. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, the last two games are going to live on as a ‘could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.'”
It’s an end of an era, but with new beginnings. East Juniata joins Juniata in a new co-op next season. But that is for the future. The present is about a conclusion and relationships created.
“The hope is the bonds they’ve made as Tigers will last a lifetime. You always have them as your teammates,” Miskinis said. “If things are going bad, you call your teammate. You need to be really appreciative of all the friendships you’ve found and hopefully, they are going to last a long, long time.”
There won’t be a next game for East Juniata. There will be no comeback, no tomorrow for Tiger fans.
In the Bible, it says, “There is a time to every purpose under heaven.”
For the East Juniata football squad, Friday night was definitely a time to weep.
Tri-Valley 14, East Juniata 0
East Juniata 0 0 0 0–0
Tri-Valley 0 7 0 7–14
Order of scoring
TV– Scheib 5 run (J.Stiely kick), 8:21
TV– Buchanan 18 pass from Yoder (J.Stiely kick), 5:53
First downs 9 11
Rushes-yards 34-40 38-196
Passing 118 60
Comp-Att-Int 8-20-0 4-11-1
Total yards 178 256
Punts-Avg. 7-24.3 4-33.8
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 7-75 4-30
RUSHING: EJ– Piccioni 16-7, Pursley 9-27, Sheaffer 2-0, Kline 1-5, Zechman 1-0, Moyer 1-(-3), Lauver 4-4; TV– Scheib 15-60 TD, Lucas 12-110, Yoder 5-0, Schwalm 6-26.
PASSING: EJ– Piccioni 8-18-0-118, Balatincz 0-1-0-0, Pursley 0-1-0-0; TV– Yoder 4-11-60-1.
RECEIVING: EJ– Kline 2-25, Berkich 2-20, Balatincz 4-73; TV– Schwalm 1-25, Buchanan 1-18 TD, Ziegmont 1-13, Scheib 1-4.
INTERCEPTIONS: EJ– Bishop.