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GAME PREVIEW: Juniata vs Meadville

By Fred Parnell, Juniata Football Past & Present

Didn’t we do this last year? Yes, we did, and it was a very memorable game. We entered the game as big underdogs and for the first half, that is the way it played out. However, in the second half, Juniata took it to the Bulldogs and with less than two minutes to play, the score was deadlocked at 27-27.

Then, lightning struck as junior Khalon Simmon took the ball 91 yards into the end zone, putting Meadville ahead 34-27, which is how the game ended.

Unfortunately, Mr. Simmons has returned for his senior year and he is even better this season. Any hope for an Indian victory will be tied to at least slowing him down. He is close to being a one-man team. They have another more than capable running back in Brady Walker. Fortunately, he is not as athletic, dynamic or explosive as Simmons. But he can hurt you.

What about their passing game? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. In 12 games, they have put the ball in the air 60 times. They are a run-run-run team who pass only when necessary and occasionally to show the defense they can throw it.

They are a scoring machine. They have scored 612 points on the season and have exceeded 50 points six times, 60 points three times and 70 points twice. This is a scoring machine. I will point out that they had comparable stats last season, and we held them to 34 points. Currently, they are the #4 ranked AAAA team in the state, right behind Jersey Shore.

So, with a pedigree like that, why even play the game? For the same reason we played it last season; we can win this game! Meadville plays a terribly weak regular season schedule. Last season, we took their best shot and stormed back in the second half to nearly win the game.

Know this: it will not be easy and a lot of things have to go our way. Every game is different and you just never know how it will play out. But, I think there is a pathway to victory.

To begin with, we cannot lose the turnover battle. We cannot give them extra possessions. Big plays are what we cannot give up. We need to make them drive the field, put them in 3rd down situations and yes, make them throw the ball. I don’t know how well they can throw the ball, but I know they can’t throw it as well as they run it. Being +2 or more in turnover would be an immense help.

On offense, we have to make first downs. We can’t afford to start on our own 20 and go three and out. This gives them a short field and leads to a disaster. We have to take advantage of all scoring opportunities. Realistically, I think we have to score at least as many points as we scored against them last season. Their defense appears to be pretty decent, but not overpowering. We cannot be one dimensional; we have have to run and throw successfully. We have to fight on every play; show them they are going to be there for 48 minutes, something they are not used to seeing.

If we can do this, we have a real chance of winning this game. Obviously, the closer we come to playing a perfect game, the better our chance.

Finally, for our team to do this, they need the full support of their fan base. It’s an early evening game and only an hour away. Let’s pack the stands and give these players the support they have earned and deserve.

Hear Juniata vs Meadville, this Saturday on Juniata County Radio starting at 5pm.

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