Port Byron (WSYR-TV) - High school football is bringing excitement to communities throughout Central New York, but there’s one team that’s generating buzz like few others.
Port Byron and Union Springs merged players form their two respective schools after the latter district disbanded its football program altogether last year.
Senior Joe Reister was relieved that he would have a chance to put on the helmet and pads for one more year after his school shut down football.
"To think that I wasn't going to have a senior year of football, it was pretty devastating, but to see the field, to know that I'm going to have my senior year and be able to play is great,” he said.
Union Springs brought 10 players and last year’s varsity coach to nearby Port Byron. And the two districts are splitting the cost 50-50.
"We have more opportunities for kids today and we actually spent less money and that's a nice combination,” said Port Byron Superintendent Neil O’Brien.
With the addiction of football, the schools have combined for four sports teams.
With many schools confronting dwindling enrollments and budgets, team mergers may become more and more common.
"They were no longer sustainable as a football program and I have as little as 58 students in some of my elementary grade levels and so that day is coming for Port Byron not too far down the road so it was either merge or we would end up not having football programs at either school,” O’Brien said.