SOUTH GLENS FALLS — The helmets and jerseys are the same blue color, but Anthony Torra and Ed Amell are playing football 6 miles from home this season.
The Fort Edward seniors are part of a unique merger with South Glens Falls, in which former Flying Forts players have been invited to be part of the Bulldogs’ program.
“I’m very pleased with the program and what we’ve evolved into over time,” Amell said before last Friday’s game against Amsterdam. “We have a good group of guys here, hopefully we continue to show it.”
“They’re awesome people, they play hard, they’re passionate, they’re good hard workers,” South High head coach Matt Howard said.
The possible annexation of the Fort Edward school district by the larger South Glens Falls district has been a hot-button issue for months.
In February, a football merger was approved between the two schools. Fort Edward’s two-year merger with Corinth was dissolving, leaving a handful of players needing a new team.
Torra and Amell are the only two Fort Edward students on the South High varsity. Torra is a team captain, starting at offensive tackle and defensive line. Amell starts on the defensive line.
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“I think we all got together really well,” Torra said. “It was a good experience at the beginning and I hope we continue it in the future.”
The Bulldogs are off to an 0-2 start, but growing pains are expected with a young team. The team’s scheduled game at Albany on Friday was canceled, so they have a week to get ready for Queensbury on Sept. 24.
While they miss being part of their own school football team, Torra and Amell said they have not felt like they were losing their identity as Fort Edward players. They still feel part of the tradition of gritty toughness and pride they brought from the smallest football-playing school in Section II.
“We didn’t lose our identity — we still have it, it’s not going anywhere,” Amell said. “We’re just gaining another one, another family to move on and broaden our horizons.”
“We’re definitely bringing our tradition over — lots of pride in our program that we lost, but coming over here, it’s just one big family, we can continue what we have,” Torra said.
Both Torra and Amell have good size — Torra is 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, while Amell is 6-3, 215. Neither looks out of place on a Class A roster.
“Torra is one of the strongest kids on our team, and that makes the difference,” Howard said. “If you’re in the weight room, you can play in any classification. If you’re weight-trained, you’re strong, you’re fast, you’re mentally confident, you know you put in the work — you’re going to be a good football player.”
Howard was hoping for a better turnout from the smaller school. Only a few joined the Bulldogs’ JV and modified teams. Former Fort Edward coach Jeff Tully is helping with the JV. Former Forts standout Tyler Carpenter, a teacher at South Glens Falls Middle School, is a varsity assistant.
Howard agreed that some players might have been intimidated by the jump from small-school football to Class A.
“I understand the shell-shock, but it’s just high school football — everyone’s the same age, the same people, you just play in a different classification,” Howard said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t play at a higher classification — they’re all 17-, 18-year-old kids at the end of the day.
“I’m hoping when they see the success of the kids that did come out,” he added, “we’ll get more and more (Fort Edward students) each year as they realize that they’re more than capable of playing at this level and helping our program.”
Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity.
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