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Community rallies around the Indians

Local support fueled Juniata football

Sentinel photo by MIKE GOSS
Riley Shertzer shakes her red pom-pom and cheers on the Juniata football team while holding her daughter, Josie, at the same time.

MIFFLINTOWN — With Juniata’s postseason run, one thing that always followed the Indians was a herd of supporters.

The Juniata football team left for Meadville last Friday before a Saturday afternoon game, a hope that coach Kurt Condo thanked the booster club for turning into reality quickly. The team also departed from Mifflintown, escorted by fire trucks and fans with signs, ready to support the team.

Then on Saturday, the Big Red faithful showed up, packing the visiting stands to cheer on the Indians.

“This week has been overwhelming,” Juniata coach Kurt Condo said following the team’s loss to Meadville. “We had our team banquet (last) Thursday night and I mentioned that, knowing we were coming up here on a long trip and the booster club turned a mere thought into a plan in a matter of a couple of hours. The community support was just outrageous. We’re very humbled by that and blessed that they believe in us. Their support for Juniata football is awesome.”

The amount of support for the local community was thrilling to see for the Indians’ players.

“Honestly, I didn’t even expect it. They just came out of nowhere and it just lit us on fire,” Juniata senior Zachary Harr said. “It felt awesome to see the whole community come together. For us to be escorted by fire trucks and have town square covered with people with signs and people chanting your name at the bus. It’s just an awesome feeling to see your community has your back like that to send you off on a four-hour trip.”

As much as the team rallied around the football team, the community quickly rallied to support the family and friends of Juniata wrestler Cameron Sweigart, who tragically died on Thursday in a car accident. Fans wore purple ribbons in memory of Sweigart.

“This week, this town’s going through something real tough right now,” Ortiz said Saturday. “Then we had so many fans here. It’s insane, that with a four-hour drive they all came up here. That was for Cam, and he’s proud of us. The community is behind us. We felt the support the whole time.”

With all the fuel from a raucous fan base who went all out to show the team support in travel and from the stands, Juniata quarterback Jacob Condo said that being ready to play at the highest level was an easy task to prepare for.

“It’s easier to rise to the occasion when you know that you have a whole community behind your back,” Jacob Condo said. “Obviously we had a classmate pass away this week and it was a very bad week in a lot of ways for us. I felt like football was pretty much the community’s only light this week with what happened. The community was behind our back and was a big motivation in what made us fight so hard out here tonight.”

While Juniata’s playoff run ended last week, Juniata County sports teams have no shortage of community support, something that will certainly fuel teams in the future.

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