Rivals to Teammates

Story/Video posted November 10, 2021 in Sports, In The Game by Jake Starr, In the Game

Rivals Turned Teammates from Centre County Report on Vimeo.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Bishop Carroll’s Jacob Harker is now wearing Bishop McCort’s jersey after two seasons playing under Bishop Carroll.

This is due to the consolidations of the two schools since Bishop Carroll did not have enough players to field a football team.

“I was very disappointed because we want our own team and I want to get to play under Carroll for my last two years,” Harker said.

The coaching staff for Bishop Carroll knew last summer that it wouldn’t be able to have a team that could compete.

“We have not had the numbers that we need to prepare,” coach Steve Lieb said.

For Bishop Carroll, they faced a choice. It was to not play this season or join forces with one of its rivals from right down the road. It was eventually an easy decision for them and wide receiver Johnny Golden.

“Coach Bubba Fatula, he sat us, he told us about it, and he was encouraging us to go out and play and try it and give it our best shot,” Golden said.

The feeling of emptiness hit Bishop Carroll and Harker, but then they got some help to save their season. For Bishop McCort’s players, it was not as easy decision at first. But senior offensive lineman Joe McGowen said that after some time, the team came around on the decision.

“The first time we heard of it was at our minicamp for football season this year and Coach Smith came in and said he was thinking of bringing these guys in,” McGowen said. “We were a little skeptical at first and a little worried of what was to come., But we’re a family now.”

These are two teams that use to beat each other up on the field, but Bishop McCort is now helping Bishop Carroll.

“We reached out to them right away,” Bishop McCort head coach Tom Smith said. “They’re a natural fit for us and we’re a natural fit for them. I mainly talked to our senior leadership on the football team. And they then came to me and thought that it was a good idea to move forward with this.”

One catch was that since the addition of Bishop Carroll moved Bishop McCort’s classification from 1-A to 2-A, the Huskies would be ineligible for postseason play. But that didn’t deter coach Smith.

“Zero hesitation with me and with the coaching staff,” Smith said. “I don’t believe there was any hesitation whatsoever.”

There rivals are now teammates.

“When it first started, we only knew maybe like two or three of them,” senior Colin Stevens said. “And now, it’s like these guys are pretty much my brothers now.”

“I was very thankful that they let us in,” Harker said. “Even though they don’t get to play in the playoffs, that’s disappointing, but I was very thankful that they did that just for us.”

Bishop Carroll traded in the blue for crimson and played out this season for Bishop McCort. The teams finished 3-6 in their first season together.