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Barker/Roy-Hart a mega-merger

Before Barker and Royalton-Hartland joined their football teams this season, their programs had a combined record last year of 3-11.

As they doubled up their roster this year, they more than doubled their wins while going undefeated in Class A of Section V.

The Barker/Roy-Hart Raiders, who were brought together to overcome declining enrollment and financial struggles in both schools' programs, went 7-0 and are a top seed for the playoffs.

The Genesee Region League champions look to keep their season unblemished tonight when they face the No. 8 seed, Honeoye Falls-Lima (5-2), at 7 p.m. on their home turf at Bruno Pacini Field in Middleport.

Coach Bill Bruning refers to this season and his Barker/Roy-Hart team as "the perfect storm."

"I had some talent coming back," Bruning said. "I had a really good running back, a returning all-leaguer, and a couple linemen coming back that were honorable mention last year. I knew talking to the Roy-Hart coaches that they had a couple talented kids also. When we started practicing in August it seemed like where we had holes, they had guys to put in there. Everything aligned."

What surprised Bruning the most was not the wins, but the team chemistry between his 40 or so players who came from two different towns.

"It just amazes me how well the kids have got along," he said. "It seemed like the kids grew up together, like a group of kids that went to elementary and high school together their whole lives."