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Community is right to be proud when local teams make deep playoff runs

Few things create such an emotional roller coaster than a local team playing in a big game.

Last week in this space, we opined how we thought it was unfair that Juniata’s football team had to travel so far to play a true away game in the state playoffs because we knew it put the local kids at a significant disadvantage before the ball was ever kicked off.

And, despite a valiant effort by the Indians, Juniata’s season ended with a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Meadville on Saturday afternoon after Juniata had rallied from several scores down to tie the game.

As tempting as it is, if you support the Big Red, to bemoan what seemed like an unfair fight, we aren’t here to relitigate that.

What we are here to do is to congratulate Juniata’s football team — and the Midd-West boys soccer team — on a tremendous season that saw the locals playing far into the state bracket (and lest we forget, the East Juniata boys, state qualifiers, and the local contingent who ran in the state’s last cross country race of the season).

Juniata’s kids played 13 games this season including playoffs. In five of those games, the Indians did not surrender a point. Juniata also earned hard-fought, low-scoring victories over Middletown in the regular season and University Prep in the playoffs, demonstrating how stout its defense was.

The Indians also overcame playing a majority of the season without their normal starting quarterback Jacob Condo, with backup signal-caller Aaron Kanagy filling in admirably and guiding Juniata to the Mid-Penn Liberty Division Championship.

We know how rightfully proud of the team Juniata Countians are, and we’d like to extend our congratulations to coach Kurt Condo and the entire team for a wonderful season.

As for the Midd-West boys soccer team, all the Mustangs did was make the state semifinals and prove they were one of the most formidable sides in the state.

Midd-West racked up 21 victories, including the playoffs, against just four losses. The Mustangs finished second in their division of the Heartland Conference, second in District 4 Class 2A and fell in the state semifinals, only because their main rival Lewisburg stood in their way each time.

Despite being unable to figure out a way to defeat the Green Dragons, we are still proud of the effort put forth by coach Mark Ferster and the entire Midd-West team, and we feel confident the community does as well.

For small towns like those that populate this area, seeing the local team make a run at a state title is always thrilling and creates a sense of school and community pride like nothing else can.

And we hope that while the players on these two squads fell short of their ultimate goal, they will look back fondly on their playoff run. For those who will return to play next year, we hope it will inspire them to achieve even more.

But for now, we simply congratulate these two remarkable teams and thank them for the memorable seasons they’ve given us.

Be proud Juniata and Midd-West. We know we are to have covered you.

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