SHARPSVILLE, Pa. (WKBN) – In Western Pennsylvania, the regular season begins Friday night. For Sharpsville and West Middlesex, it’s the start of a new era.

Due to low player turnout, the two programs merged at the beginning of August, leaving the two rivals just three weeks of practice time. The team says the transition has gone very smoothly.

“We’ve had zero problems when the kids merged,” said Sharpsville head coach Paul Piccirilli. “In fact, before our first practice, the kids met. Both schools met somewhere and they talked everything out. So, the first day of practice, it’s been like both teams have been here for years.”

For the team’s 12 West Middlesex players and eight coaches, the biggest challenge has been learning Sharpsville’s defensive scheme.

“The offense is the same we ran, so the offense was very easy to get together,” said West Middlesex senior Ian Smith. “But the defense is completely different, and I think we’re all still trying to work with communication and everything, but I think we’ll be able to get it done pat by Week 2 at least.”

To make every player feel a part of the team, the Blue Devils will be incorporating the Big Reds’ signature color into their uniforms.

“We have put our metallic red stripe down the center of the helmets now,” said Sharpsville coach Mark Means. “We call that the blood stripe. All the guys are out here. They’re sweating. They’re giving a little bit of blood, too, through camp. So, we’re putting that on there to represent the West Middlesex Big Reds. They’re also going to be putting red belts on, red socks and mouthpieces.”

“I think it’s pretty cool that we’re wearing red and stuff now,” said Sharpsville senior Jacob Rust. “We used to be all blue and white, couldn’t wear any other colors, but now it’s nice wearing red. It’s kind of nice.