HUNTINGDON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Across the country, high school ‘Friday Night Lights’ bring together athletes, students, parents, and coaches. In Central Pennsylvania, Williamsburg High School was at risk of losing that tradition because they didn’t have enough football players.
That all changed Wednesday night.
The Williamsburg and Juniata Valley High School football teams will merge into one after a unanimous vote from the Juniata Valley School Board.
Some Juniata parents had concerns about more students coming to their turf.
“There will be some kids that will not have an opportunity because Williamsburg kids will be taking that spot, okay, that’s a fact,” said Mike Miller, a football parent in the Juniata Valley.
All parties agreed, there’s a bigger message.
“When we look at this, it’s about kids,” said Ryan Hileman, coach of the Williamsburg High School football team. “I know they’re not your kids, I know that they’re Williamsburg’s kids, but all I want is for our boys to have a chance to play a sport in the fall.”
Juniata Valley has a football roster of about 40 players. Williamsburg has about 15.
“It’s no secret that we’re one of the smallest schools in the state, I think it’s no secret that we just have less boys,” said Hileman.
Regardless of numbers, Williamsburg Coach Hileman says their community comes together on Friday nights, but joining Juniata’s team ends their private football journey.
“Once this moves here, we do not foresee high school football coming back to Williamsburg,” said Hileman. “You have to understand the devastating impact that this is for Williamsburg’s community and the fact that they don’t get to turn the lights on Friday nights, that’s, that’s a big thing.”
Juniata Valley High School Football Coach Bill Musser agreed, at the end of the day it’s for the students, and said the coaches and parents will work together to support that.
“I will accept the decision that is being handed here to us tonight, but I would be in favor of giving every kid the opportunity to come down and play football,” said Musser.