Neighboring school districts Afton and Harpursville are about to become close friends in numerous sports, including football, according to an email sent by Harpursville athletic director David Groover on Tuesday.
Groover’s email said the schools will join forces in football, track, boys soccer, cross country, bowling and cheerleading, beginning this fall.
Additionally, Afton, Harpursville and Bainbridge-Guilford will combine to form a singular varsity wrestling program this coming winter.
Afton and Harpursville, who play in the Midstate Athletic Conference, are about seven miles apart, separated by one exit on Interstate 88.
Afton hasn’t offered football since 2003, when it played as a combined team with Bainbridge-Guilford. The B-G/Afton football program lasted from 1988 to 2003.
B-G has played as a Class D program in Section Four since the 2004 season.
“I’m very excited,” said Tim Petras, who coached Harpursville’s varsity football team to a 7-2 record last season and will remain the coach of the combined team. “Afton hasn’t been involved with football since 2003. The amount of enthusiasm from the Afton community, students and parents has been amazing. They’ve been waiting a long time (to play football).”
Petras said he expects about 15 players from Afton to be on the varsity team this fall. Combined with the Harpursville kids, Petras said his varsity roster should have in the neighborhood of 35 players.
The combined Harpursville/Afton program will still compete as a Class D program in Division VII of the Section Four Football Conference with Candor, Seton Catholic Central, Oxford and three-time defending Section Four Class D champion Tioga.
“Any time you’re able to add about a dozen players, it will benefit your program,” said Petras, adding that Afton kids have been involved with an off-season weightlifting program that started in the winter.
Petras said several sports at the two schools wanted to remain on their own — most notably Harpursville’s highly talented girls basketball program and Afton’s equally successful softball program.
“They’re eager to play and it’s motivated our team as well as their community, Petras said.
Phone messages left on Afton athletic director Cindy Bostelman’s home and cell phones were not returned Tuesday night.