Two area high schools came together to play as one football team Thursday for the first time on their home turf.

"I'm for it. United means you get together for the positive and that's what we want them to do," Ostrada Lane said.

Thursday night was the first home game for the hybrid football team composed of players from Saginaw and Arthur Hill High Schools.

Lane is a devoted fan and has been in the Saginaw community for decades.

"They'll get together in football. We have some nice talent around this town, I like seeing it put to good use," Lane said.

A combination team is unique in itself, but the situation is even more compelling because of the schools' rivalry. It's the oldest in the state, dating back to the 1890s.

"Man, big rivalry. The rivalry is crazy, especially at the basketball games. It's really crazy, gets out of hand," said Jaden Thomas, Saginaw United JV football player.

Spectators including members of the JV team said they think it's working out to be a positive for the football program.

"It's a very good thing for the football team, very good. I think they need to come together, work together," Thomas said.

The state body overseeing high school sports allowed the two schools to form a varsity co-op to ensure enough players were available to fill out the roster in a district where enrollment has been dropping for decades.

Thomas and Demtri Bell from opposite high schools play on the Saginaw United JV team. They said the rivalry adds some friendly competition to the team.

"I feel like it's helping us a lot. Because we have a lot of aggressive players," Bell said.

"We argue here and there. At the same time, when we come together, we're strong as one," Thomas said.

Copyright 2021 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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