‘It’s different, the field is shorter‘: Local football team breaks barriers this season

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ORLEANS COUNTY, N.Y. – This is not your typical football team. Instead of the typical 11 players on the field, Holley High School will only have eight.

With declining numbers, the football program was on the verge of being on the chopping block. They decided to merge with Lyndonville for the first time, creating one team.

“We don’t have the privilege of a large school where you can make adjustments on the sidelines,” said head coach Wil Prince. “Our adjustments, we have one opportunity at halftime, which to me makes our kids more valuable.”

Prince said this comes with some challenges.

“Conditioning is a huge factor, putting substitutions in making sure kids don’t get dehydrated,” said Prince. “But learning the many roles, we have skilled players that could end up on the offensive line. Our offensive line, I don’t think we have a player over 200 pounds.”

Though no matter what, he said his guys have shown adversity even when there was no clear vision. Prince said football is a game that changed his life and saved his life and he wants to give his players that same experience.

“To watch these guys do the same thing,” the coach said through tears.

“The game has done a lot for me and my life and I try to transfer that to these guys. They don’t see it right now. They don’t see it, but they will,” he said.

“I was hurt when we realized we weren’t going to have a team, so I’m like, okay,” said Lyndonville senior Patrick Hargreve. “Then a couple of my friends pushed me to. ‘You need to do this, come on do it, let’s go.”

“It’s different, the field is shorter. Lyndonville kids help with numbers,” said quarterback Destin Kuyal.

“It hurt us, we only have so many; not many people off the bench,” Kuyal said.

But it’s a challenge the guys said they’re ready and willing to take on.

“I’m stoked,” said senior Hargreve. “I can’t wait to go out there and try my hardest and it’s going to be a good game, because I believe in these guys, I believe in myself, I believe in the crowd. I believe we got this.”

Coach Prince said they are hoping to grow into an 11-man team eventually. Their first game is at 1 p.m. Saturday, September 2 at Holley against Allegany-Limestone Central.