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Hadley-Luzerne and Lake George athletes join forces on 'WarEagles' football squad

Veteran Lake George Football Coach Jeff Bennett demonstrates a blocking strategy to several players on the new WarEagles team during their practice Aug. 22. The WarEagles are the result of combining the Lake George football squad and players from Hadley-Luzerne High School, which hasn’t fielded a football team in 30 years.

Veteran Lake George Football Coach Jeff Bennett demonstrates a blocking strategy to several players on the new WarEagles team during their practice Aug. 22. The WarEagles are the result of combining the Lake George football squad and players from Hadley-Luzerne High School, which hasn’t fielded a football team in 30 years. Photo by Thom Randall.

— The athletic programs of Lake George and Hadley-Luzerne high schools have collaborated on a new joint venture — a football team representing both schools.

This week, officials of both schools and team members expressed enthusiasm about the new joint program.

Lake George has a long-standing tradition of hard-hitting, football with an aggressive approach and strategic play-making. Over the last 35 years, the Lake George team has won plenty of league and Sectional trophies — and in 1997 they battled their way to the state championship finals.

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The Hadley-Luzerne athletes on the new WarEagles football team — a joint venture between their school and Lake George — include (foreground, left to right): Ryan Brooks, Shamus Frasier, Connor Backus; (foreground at right): Dalton Reynolds (#44) and Assistant Coach Matt Howard; (rear): Derek Visscher, Jackson Diamond, Trevor Allen, Tyler VandenBogaard, Chris Backus, Todd Woodcock, and Mike Sutliff. Photo by Thom Randall

But in recent years, with enrollment declining drastically, they’ve had trouble even fielding a team with the minimum number of players required. In 2010, for instance Lake George started the season with only 22 players, and they had to end their football season early because they could only field 15 players due to injuries.

This year’s merger with Hadley-Luzerne, however, has not only brought in 16 more players and enabled Lake George to field a Junior Varsity team for the first time since 2000, but it’s also boosted the Lake George students’ participation in the program, Lake George football coach Jeff Bennett said. This year, four more Lake George students than normal have signed up for football, boosting the merged team to at least 42 players — the most in recent history, he said.

“Football is a numbers game,” Bennett said. “The addition of the Hadley-Luzerne students is really going to change our program and make it very competitive.”

The two schools are merely ten miles apart, and the Hadley-Luzerne players will be practicing and playing on Lake George’s football field. They will be competing in Section II Class C, their traditional level — although Lake George has for several years been playing in Class D.

Hadley-Luzerne has not had a football team since 1983.

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