By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
MIFFLINTOWN — You might as well disregard each team’s season record.
East Juniata and Juniata enter their Tri-Valley League matchup Friday night with the Tigers standing at 2-2 while the Indians are 1-3. However, the Tigers’ two losses have come against Pine Grove and Tri-Valley, both of whom are still unbeaten heading into week five.
The Indians’ largest loss this season was a seven-point defeat at the hands of Tri-Valley and each game the Indians have played has been tight with their win being a three-point win over Line Mountain.
East Juniata coach Simon Cameron was quick to mention the importance of a win against Juniata for the program.
“It would be huge,” Cameron said. “To get back on track (this season), it would definitely start with Juniata. A win against Juniata would go a long way. Juniata’s not going to make it easy. They’re 1-3 but they’ve been in close games. They’ve come back in the end of all of them.”
Tyler Clark has kept Juniata in games under center as a freshman, throwing for five scores and opening running lanes for three running backs who have seen significant carries for the Indians.
“(Clark) has had some very good plays,” Cameron said. “He’s got an arm on him. He’s made some mistakes but he’s not afraid to throw to a covered receiver. If we can keep him in the pocket and get some pressure on him, that will help.”
Clark threw for two touchdowns last week against Newport but also tossed three interceptions in a 45-42 loss.
Clark has had a number of receivers to turn to with Dakota McNemar averaging 44 yards per reception and hauling in two touchdown passes. Chad Eberle and Ty Treaster have also made an impact at receiver for the Indians, with Eberle and Treaster each surpassing 100 yards receiving this season.
Eberle and Treaster are two-thirds of the Indians three-headed monster in the backfield along with Joshua Newcamp that can hurt opposing defenses.
“They like to run (the ball),” Cameron said. “Our first job will be to force them to throw the ball. When they throw the ball, we need to make sure we get our (defensive backs) in protection and go for some interceptions. We need to stop the pass.”
Stopping the run was an issue last week for East Juniata as Tri-Valley quarterback Hunter Harner ran for 155 yards and two scores and Tanner Coleman added 105 yards and a touchdown.
The Tigers started their season with two straight wins before dropping their last two.
“I hope the kids realize we just played two tough teams who are still undefeated,” Cameron said.
Last season, the Indians came into Beaver Springs and handed the Tigers a 42-6 loss behind 139 yards and four scores from Neil Bodley.
A large part of this season’s success for East Juniata has been dynamic all-purpose back David Brantley. Perhaps committed to stopping Brantley, Tri-Valley was able to keep Brantley out of the end zone for the first time this season in a shutout victory.
The rivalry between the two schools is not limited to solely the players from East Juniata who attend school in McAlisterville.
“The Midd-West kids want to get this win as much as the (East Juniata) kids,” Cameron said. “It goes vice versa. Juniata will come out tough and ready to hit and they will fight to the end.”