Musser takes reins at Valley

Bill Musser has worn a lot of hats in the athletic program at Juniata Valley High School over the last nearly 20 years. He’s the head boys track coach now after a lengthy run as the assistant and worked with basketball in several capacities, including a year as interim girls coach after the untimely passing of Jama Greene.

Musser always has put one sport above all others, though.

“As my family will tell you, it’s always football season at my house. Football is really my passion,” Musser said.

Because of that, Musser always has wanted to be a head coach, and he’ll get a chance to undertake that role at his alma mater: the Valley school board hired him to the post earlier this week.

Musser, 42, was one of three candidates interviewed during a whirlwind process of less than a month after the board opened the position previously held by Mike Smith, who was suspended after allegedly pushing a student against the wall during class. The Green Hornets needed a coach quickly, and Musser was the most logical choice.

“He applied. He had been a head coach, and he had been there longer than anyone else,” outgoing Valley athletic director Suz Price said of Musser. “Of the three (candidates), he’s the only one that’s been coaching at the varsity level.”

Musser admitted it was a bittersweet way to realize his dream. He had returned to varsity coaching after a stint handling Juniata Valley’s junior high football team when Smith took over as head coach 10 years ago.

Smith had a terrific run with the Hornets, averaging seven wins per year and making an appearance in the District 6 championship game.

“I have the utmost respect for Coach Smith, as well as Coach (Don) Price and Coach (Don) MacEachern, who were assistant coaches there as well,” Musser said. “It’s been a pleasure working with them for the last 18 years.”

Because of the tumultuous circumstances, Musser is taking over the program on the fly, and he said stepping in at this time required some consideration before he took the leap.

“I had to make sure I understood I could work through the turmoil,” Musser said.

With MacEachern and Don Price retiring, Musser is still in the process of building a staff, and he isn’t sure whether or not he’ll retain the Wing-T offense and 4-3 defense which had worked so well under Smith the last decade.

“All I can be is me as a coach, and I’m going to do the best I can,” Musser said.

Musser played quarterback at Valley for Bill Clouse in the late 1980s and 1990 before heading to Bloomsburg University. He is married to former Valley girls basketball coach Maylin Musser. They have three children: Grant, 12; Emma, 11; and Gavin, 9.