The proposed high school football merger between rivals Granville and Whitehall will not go forward this fall.
Whitehall officials announced Monday that the Railroaders had enough players to field their own junior varsity program this fall. The merger had been approved by both school boards two months ago.
Whitehall Superintendent of Schools Patrick Dee said in an email that athletic director Keith Redmond had been meeting with students at all grade levels to gauge interest in football.
“As a result of these ongoing discussions,” Dee said, “our coaching staff and AD feel that we have sufficient player interest to run a quality JV program that will enable our coaching staff to develop these players safely and with the ability to grow into an independent Whitehall Varsity program for (the 2022 season).”
Whitehall did not field a varsity team during the recently completed Fall II season because of too few players.
“It’s a decision for them to make,” Granville Superintendent of Schools Tom McGurl said. “Right from the beginning, they said if they had enough players to have their own team, that was the direction they wanted to go in.”
Both Whitehall and Granville have dealt with low numbers in recent years. Whitehall turned down a merger request from Granville in late 2019, but at the time, Whitehall was concerned about being in the middle of a capital project in 2020.
Granville made a merger request again in January, which got the wheels moving for the merger that was approved by March.
“We have enough players to field a team,” McGurl said. “A merger would have been beneficial for both of our programs, but hopefully we can continue our rivalry and we look forward to playing them in the future.”
With Fort Edward players playing for South Glens Falls this fall, Whitehall will be the smallest school in Section II with a standalone football program, according to the 2021-22 enrollment numbers.
Granville and Whitehall have been rivals on the gridiron since at least the turn of the 20th century. However, being in different classes for most of the last 20 years, they have met only a few times, most recently in 2017. Granville, like Whitehall, will be in Class D for football in 2021.
McGurl said the Granville-Whitehall mergers in boys soccer and cross country will go ahead as planned this fall. The schools will continue to have separate girls soccer teams.
Also, Fort Ann wrestlers will become part of the Granville wrestling program in the winter of 2021-22. Fort Ann had been part of a combined Whitehall-Fort Ann team for the last several seasons.
Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity.