FAIRBANKS - Two Alaska high schools hope to end their difficulties fielding football teams by merging their programs, according to school officials.
Monroe Catholic High School in Fairbanks and Tri-Valley School in Healy have signed an agreement to establish a joint football team, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Sunday.
A teacher and a community volunteer will serve as coaches in Healy and then at least twice per week the squad will join Monroe players and coaches in Fairbanks 112 miles north, officials said.
The first practice for the combined team is scheduled for July 31 and the season will run through Oct. 12, according to officials. They said the team will have four home and four away games in the Aurora conference.
Monroe has had 17 or fewer players in recent years, according to the school.
"There has been a real concern on our part whether we would even be able to field a team," Monroe Athletic Director Frank Ostanik said.
Efforts to start a Tri-Valley team go back to 2012 when Construction Machinery Industrial LLC provided a grant for uniforms and equipment, but not enough students joined, according to Daryl Frisbie, the Tri-Valley teacher and recently appointed football coach.
Tri-Valley hoped state athletic officials would allow schools to establish eight-member teams, he said, but the rules mandating 11-member teams remained unchanged and the school was forced to wait for the Monroe merger.
“You guys will be the first football players at Tri-Valley School,” Frisbie told his newly enlisted players. “You are making history. That’s pretty cool.”