Williams Township, Dauphin County: The count down to August 24th gets closer by the day. Kick-off of the high school football season seams just around the corner and schools are getting ready to start popping the pads. The Tri-Valley League hosted their annual media day on Tuesday and all the talk was excitement, team bonding and stepping up to the challenge.
Juniata,one of the league powers seems poised to make a run for the league crown this year. Head coach Gary Klingensmith, has seen a few seasons , 50 of them in fact. This year, the Tri-Valley patriarch sees a powerful league top to bottom.
"This league this year is more balanced. And I think it is going to be very difficult for someone to go through this league and win every game," said Klingensmith. "Not like in the past where we would have someone go undefeated, I think it will be very difficult to have someone go undefeated in this league again," he added.
Coming off a solid league record of 7-2, the Indians welcome East Juniata via a merger of the programs. That now has the league sitting at ten teams, meaning everyone will play each other. That means Newport and Williams Valley two of league powers, both district champions last season, but haven't met on the field since 2015. They their match-up could settle things on the field instead of the internet chat rooms and that excites the buffalos.
"I know people have said well, maybe you guys wouldn't have won it if you played Williams Valley. I think it is great to be able to play everyone once, so there is an undisputed winner of the league," said Zach Minium Newport's Junior center.
The Buffalos return a defense that gave up just nine points a game last season. That anticipated match-up against the Vikings takes place in week two. And speaking of the Williams Valley, you have to respect a team that went undefeated during the regular season and averaged 49 points per game. Their offense never slowed down until the PIAA quarterfinals. This is year we find out, are the Vikings rebuilding or just reloading.
"We lost a lot of seniors, but we have seven coming back."
Levi Engle, Williams Valley Senior quarterback, doesn't think the team will miss a beat.
"We have a good amount (of seniors) but we did lose a large part of our team. The young kids, they are very athletic and skilled. We just need to get them up to speed with drills and stuff and we should be fine."
Should be another fun year in the Tri-Valley league with a few surprises along the way like always.