By Ted Waddell
ROSCOE August 26, 2005 Contrary to the notion that old rivalries never fade away, two local school districts merged their football teams earlier this year in an effort to keep their dwindling programs alive.
Last year, the Roscoe Central School Blue Devils had to forfeit two games because they didnt have enough healthy players to take to the gridiron. While the Wildcats of Livingston Manor Central School were in better condition numbers-wise, they sweated out every twisted ankle and pulled shoulder muscle.
Every week, it was always a question of whether we were going to play on Saturday, Fred Ahart, who is now in his 27th year as the head of Roscoes football program, said of his teams 2004 season.
This is Aharts 37th year overall at Roscoe Central School.
While talk of merging the two school districts still raises the hackles of many local residents, the idea of combining the varsity football teams has been met with a collective nod of approval from the two communities.
The rivals battled on the field under the lights on October 15, 2004, and the Wildcats emerged victorious. In 2003, Manor won the Section IX Class D championship.
Its going pretty well so far, and theres a lot of athletic ability, said Kevin Clifford, who is in his fourth year coaching the Manor football team.
During a hard-contact practice on a recent afternoon at Roscoe Central School, the old us vs. them rivalry seemed like a thing of the past as the players from one high school hit each other just as hard as they did the players from the neighboring school.
This autumn, the players on the Livingston Manor/Roscoe Devil Cats football team will take to the field wearing their traditional colors at home, and on the road will alternate between the familiar maroon and gray of Manor and Roscoes royal blue and white.
Were very excited about it, and the kids have been working hard and pulling together, Ahart said.
The old rivalries are in the past, but well have some great memories, he added. Its all changed.
The Devil Cats will begin their 2005 season on Friday, September 2 at the Manor football field. The Devil Cats will host the Deposit Lumberjacks, a Section IV Class D team, on that afternoon. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.