If you’re still skeptical about the declining participation in high school football, let the town of Yonkers serve as definitive proof: A town of eight schools with eight traditional football teams now sports just two.
As reported by New York ABC affiliate WABC, and previously detailed by our Gannett partners at LoHud.com, the eight high schools in Yonkers all saw significant declines in participation in recent years, leading district officials to determine that the best way forward was to merge the eight existing teams down into two.
The two teams — now called the Brave and Force — each consist of student athletes from four different schools. The decision to build two traditional sized teams from the district’s schools came a year after both Gorton High School and Saunders Trades & Technical High School moved down from 11-man football to 8-man football.
“I’m trying to take these kids to a place they’ve never gone before,” Vic Chiappa, head coach of the Yonkers Brave, told LoHud.com. “Some of the kids are taking to it and some kids aren’t yet, but most of them are accepting the coaching. They’ve been really good.”
And while the city’s players recognize that there will be some awkwardness with the forced assimilation of players from different schools, they can all agree that the most important thing is that they continue to compete, as they told LoHud.
“Really, I feel like we were robbed of actual high school football,” Force lineman Jonathan Guerrido, a Roosevelt senior, said. “I’ve already played three years and the league we were in we weren’t competing at all. Now we finally have an opportunity to compete against good teams, like New Rochelle and Scarsdale, teams like that. It will be fun.”