One of the longest running rivalries in high school football is coming to an end as Saginaw High and Arthur Hill join forces to form a new varsity team.
The MHSAA committee granted a waiver allowing the schools to form a varsity co-op in football for the 2021 season.
Lionel Baldwin Jr. is a sophomore at Arthur Hill High School. He said he is very happy his school will combine with Saginaw High to form a varsity football team this fall.
“I've actually already been working out with some people from the rival school Saginaw High just so we can get our chemistry together,” Baldwin Jr. said.
The safety of the student-athletes is the number one factor behind the merger. Separately, each school has just enough players to field a team, and sometimes freshman or sophomores had to take the field, even if they were not physically ready yet.
As District Athletic Director Dr. Mit Foley said, they will now have enough players to safely field a team, and even compete for starting spots.
“We anticipate the number of players increasing and they'll be playing at levels that are appropriate for their age and their skill,” Foley said. “Having three levels of football is going to reduce the risk, protect our players, be a better fit for the physical and emotional abilities of those athletes.”
The schools had to petition the MHSAA to grant them a waiver as their combined enrollments exceeded the cap allowed in the sport. The Saginaw Valley League was also on board, recognizing the benefits of a combined Hill-High program.
“The committee did so because the schools will be merging in a year, and the Saginaw Valley League provided strong support because on their own the two schools may not have had enough players to support separate varsity teams, which could have resulted in the other teams in the SVL ending up with one or two open dates they’d have to fill elsewhere at the last minute,” an MHSAA spokesperson told TV5.
Saginaw Hill and Arthur Hill had a JV football co-op this past season. TV5 first brought you the story about the schools forming a unified JV team in September because of the low roster sizes.
Foley said the new team name will be Saginaw United. He said they plan on coming up with a nickname and school mascot later this year.