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Fort Edward joining Hudson Falls in football - FlagSpin

Fort Edward joining Hudson Falls in football

Back when he was growing up in Fort Edward, Ryan Carpenter helped lead the Flying Forts to back-to-back Section II football championships.

Now, Carpenter is the athletic director at Hudson Falls, and helping to usher in a new era for the neighboring schools.

This fall, Fort Edward students will be able to play football for Hudson Falls in a first-time sports merger between the next-door communities. The team will be still be the Tigers, but include players from their neighbors 10 minutes down Route 4. The team will continue to play in Class B.

“A few months ago, Fort Edward had reached out to us to start discussing a merger,” Carpenter said. “We’re looking to boost our numbers at all levels — we haven’t had an independent JV squad to play a full season. We’re hoping to build interest at the lower levels and in our youth flag football program. It’s an opportunity for kids to play football — that’s honestly what matters most.”

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Carpenter and Hudson Falls head coach Brett Watkins met Wednesday with Fort Edward students in grades 6-11 to discuss the Tigers’ program and offseason training opportunities.

Despite being one of the smallest schools in the state with a football team, Fort Edward fielded its own standalone program from 1930 until 2015, when declining numbers forced the Forts to play a JV-only schedule. Over the last several years, Fort Edward has combined with Argyle, Corinth, Hadley-Luzerne and South Glens Falls in an effort to preserve the opportunity to play football.

Last season, Fort Edward was merged with Corinth and H-L. Practices and games were split between Fort Edward and Corinth, schools that are 16 miles apart on mostly back roads. The Hudson Falls and Fort Edward high schools are only 3.5 miles apart.

“After last season, we were reviewing our merger with Corinth, and distance was a little bit of a factor,” said Dr. Richard DeMallie, Superintendent of Schools for Fort Edward. “Corinth has established their program and they didn’t really need us, so we were looking for another partner. We looked at the pros and cons, and it was most natural for us to work with our most neighboring school district: Hudson Falls. We felt we could build a strong program if we merged together.”

DeMallie said discussions with Hudson Falls began over the winter and both school boards approved the merger for the 2023 season.

Hudson Falls Superintendent Dan Ward — who spent several years as Fort Edward’s superintendent — said it was good timing for both schools.

“They were looking for a partner after being merged with Corinth and Hadley-Luzerne last year,” Ward said, “and it made sense for them to look up here, so kids can participate in football and not have to travel 45 minutes one way.

“The kids are coming from similar backgrounds, and it provides an opportunity for both schools to have a full team at all levels,” Ward added.

Ward and Carpenter both said the Hudson Falls coaching staff was open to bringing Fort Edward coaches on board.

“We’re very excited to provide an opportunity for Fort Edward kids and help grow our own numbers, as well,” Carpenter said. “We hope to make it a positive experience for the kids, to join us and be a part of us.”

Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @ByPeteTobey

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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