The Section VI Executive Committee approved an emergency merger between the Frewsburg and Randolph football programs for the coming season Tuesday.
Week One is Sept. 1 with Randolph visiting Section VI Class D runner-up Franklinville/Ellicottville.
In a sport where injuries happen and the fact that the Bears do not have a junior varsity team, the move proved to be necessary because Frewsburg only had 18 players on its roster, according to Section VI Football Chairman Ken Stoldt. The total includes several freshmen and first-year players, prompting concern by the team as to whether it would be able to get through an entire season. The state requires teams to suit up a minimum of 16 players on game days.
"They were not confident they would make it through," Stoldt said.
The move actually helps Randolph too as the Cardinals have 22 players on the team – which is lower than usual amount for the perennial Class D contender.
Stoldt said some of the Frewsburg freshmen and sophomores deemed more suitable to play junior varsity will be able to do so with Randolph as a result of the partnership.
The merger reduces the number of Class D teams from nine to eight. The teams that were supposed to play Frewsburg now have a bye week unless the section is able to find opponents for them to give them an extra nonleague game.
There were two teams, however, not slated to play Frewsburg – Maple Grove and coincidentally Randolph.
The section will discuss this week how to handle the league schedule in-balance but options include using win percentage to determine playoff seeding for the Section VI Tournament or turning the game between longtime rivals Randolph and Maple Grove into a nonleague affair so that each team in Class D plays the same number of division games.
The reduction from nine to eight teams also means everyone in Class D makes the playoffs, which begin Oct. 20.
Frewsburg reached the Section VI Class D final in 2015, dropping a decision to Franklinville/Ellicottville.