At 70, Juniata's Klingensmith remains active, full of energy

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LOYALTON - Gary Klingensmith smiled, shot a glance at the two players sitting next to him, then looked back toward the reporter.

"Were you even born yet?" he asked, then chuckled.

The veteran Juniata High School football coach was being comical during the Aug. 5 inaugural Tri-Valley League (TVL) Football Media Day at the Upper Dauphin Elementary/Middle School.

The question came after Klingensmith was asked what was his first year as the Indians' head coach.

The 70-year-old Klingensmith is the dean of the Tri-Valley League football coaches, as 2013 will be his 45th season at the helm.

Klingensmith was a defensive back at Penn State from 1961-64, when Rip Engle was the Nittany Lions' head coach and some guy named Joe Paterno was an assistant coach. He took over as Juniata's head coach in 1969 and has compiled a 258-188-6 career mark.

Sporting a polo shirt and a pair of shorts, Klingensmith looked in great shape. His only problem is he's hard of hearing.

"He still takes part in drills," wingback Chad Eberle said.

Juniata enters the season as the Tri-Valley League favorite after returning 10 letterwinners from last year's 6-4 club.

Among those returnees are Eberle (39-359, 7 TDs), who also starts at safety, and tailback/linebacker Neil Bodley, who rushed for a school-record 1,569 yards and scored 25 touchdowns on offense while compiling 60 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions as an outside linebacker.

"That could be good news and bad news," Klingensmith said about being league favorite. "I'm glad some people think so highly of us, but it puts us up there on the block, too.

"There's 3-4 teams ... it's always a close game in this league. There's some tough competition. It's always been that way, and I expect no different this year.

"It will come down to teams staying healthy and not having any bad luck. I kind of like our chances myself."

Here's some other news and notes from the TVL Media Day:

- Expect defending champion Williams Valley to battle Juniata for TVL top honors. The Vikings lost four of their starting linemen and do-everything weapon Owen Daniel, but return QB Stephen Sedesse and tailback Cole Barnhardt.

- Klingensmith tabbed Pine Grove and Newport as teams to watch as well.

Steve Zimmerman, a two-time All-Area selection in baseball, will be the Cardinals' quarterback after missing all of last season with an ACL injury.

- Juniata returned to the Tri-Valley League after playing a few seasons in the Mountain League's Allegheny Division. The return of the Indians and East Juniata last season increased the number of teams in the TVL to 10.

That number will jump to 11 next fall when Susquenita joins the Tri-Valley League in all sports.

According to Upper Dauphin football coach Brent Bell, who is the president of the Tri-Valley Football Coaches Association, each team will still have nine league games and one date for a non-league contest.

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