Frankfort-Schuyler Maroon Knights won't defend Section III grid title

Frankfort-Schuyler cancels varsity football season because of low participation numbers

Jon Rathbun
Times Telegram
Jeffrey DeSarro (5) runs with the ball for the Frankfort-Schuyler Maroon Knights during a semifinal Section III playoff game against Dolgeville prior to winning the Class D championship in 2019. DeSarro graduated after playing the Fall II season with the Maroon Knights in the spring, and Frankfort-Schuyler has now canceled its fall season for 2021.

FRANKFORT – Low numbers and a youthful pool of players led Frankfort-Schuyler to cancel its varsity football season Tuesday following the eighth day of preseason practice.

Section III confirmed Wednesday that it had been notified the school would not be fielding a varsity football team this fall because of low participation numbers. Frankfort-Schuyler will be fielding a modified team this fall.

Nineteen players turned out on the first day of practice in Frankfort Aug. 23 and there were 22 at the final practice before the decision to cancel was made, according to superintendent Joe Palmer. Eleven of the 22 players were freshman and they had reached their maximum number of varsity practices to retain modified eligibility.

“We kept varsity intact as long as possible,” Palmer said.

The school considered a shift to eight-player football for the fall, but moving the freshmen to modified would have left the varsity short on players for that, as well. Other possible playing opportunities with neighboring districts are now being explored.

“We are trying to give everybody an opportunity to participate at the varsity level,” Palmer said. 

The Maroon Knights were Section III’s reigning Class D champions, having won the 2019 title for their first crown since 1982. Frankfort-Schuyler went 0-3 against Herkimer County competition during the coronavirus pandemic-driven Fall II season in the spring.

Frankfort-Schuyler follows Sauquoit Valley in departing Class D East this fall, leaving four teams in what had originally been a six-team league. The loss of two games from the schedule leaves Dolgeville, Herkimer, Utica-Notre Dame and Waterville/Hamilton with a three-game league schedule. Westmoreland/Oriskany, which had withdrawn from Class C last week intending to compete as an independent team, is filling the spots left open by Sauquoit Valley which shifted to eight-player competition.

The junior and senior classes at Frankfort-Schuyler are slightly smaller than average, according to the superintendent, and participation numbers are down while the freshman class has slightly higher numbers looking ahead.

“This is a temporary bump in the road,” Palmer said. “We are going to build things back even stronger.”

There are varsity and modified soccer teams for boys and girls this fall at Frankfort-Schuyler. Lower numbers led the school to field only a varsity team for high school girls this year after fielding varsity and junior varsity in recent years.

High school football:New fall season brings new league alignments

The 2021 season starts with scrimmages Saturday and the first area games will be played the following Saturday. Frankfort-Schuyler had been scheduled to scrimmage at Central Valley Academy with the Thunder and the Mt. Markham Mustangs. The Maroon Knights’ first game would have been played under the lights at home against Notre Dame.

Jon Rathbun is a sportswriter for the Times Telegram. Email Jon at sports@timestelegram.com.