A League of Their Own

January 29, 2015

Over the past seven seasons, the LaFayette (N.Y.) High School football team has gone 18-39, reaching .500 just once. A small school that co-ops with another, it struggles
to get students on the squad and fans in the stands.

This fall, the Lancers will try to turn things around by joining other teams in the same situation and participating in a new league sponsored by the Central New York Chapter of the National Football Federation (NFF). Composed of 11 Class D schools that have struggled in recent years, the conference hopes to give each the opportunity to play an increased number of competitive games. They will also have a couple of weeks free to play traditional opponents.

Split into two regional divisions, the league will have a four-team playoff at the end of the season to determine a champion. However, the winner will not be eligible to advance to any sectional or state playoffs. It's a two-year pilot program, although teams can opt out after the first season.

The opportunity to participate in competitive contests is what drew LaFayette Athletic Coordinator Jerry Kelly to the NFF league. "It's difficult to build a program and get kids motivated to try out when you struggle to win two or three games each year," he says. "By playing comparable schools, I think we can win a few more contests, which should help bring a positive outlook and some excitement back to our team.

"Even though we give up any chance of state playoff games, the NFF league championship is going to be played in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University, just like the sectional finals and state tournament," Kelly continues. "It's every LaFayette player's dream to play in the Dome, but before the NFF conference was formed, we never won enough to qualify. Now we have a much better shot to get there."
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