Brian Herdlein is not a fortuneteller.
However, the LeRoy varsity football coach, a former high school quarterback, can read signals.
Herdlein and the LeRoy assistant coaches are not sure, but they have told players on the team that Friday night’s game at Caledonia-Mumford could be the final one in a high school football rivalry that dates back to 1900.
“They definitely get up for it,” Herdlein said. “I don’t know if they know how many people fought to make this game happen.”
Friday’s LeRoy versus Cal-Mum game, the 83rd matchup, is the 50th since the series resumed in 1965. Players from those teams five decades ago will take a bow during the night, along with alumni from other LeRoy and Cal-Mum teams. A group formed for the cause “Keep the Rivalry Alive” also will be there for the celebration. Gates open at 6 p.m.
Will it be a farewell party of sorts? The annual LeRoy vs. Cal-Mum football matchup was put into jeopardy after the 2014 season, when the Livingston County league realigned from three to two divisions. LeRoy is in one eight-team division with a standard Section V seven-game regular-season schedule, Cal-Mum in the other.
New era, same approach for Le Roy football
The Livingston County football divisions, like most in Section V, are based on enrollment figures. The goal is to have schools of a similar size play each other for safety and competitive reasons.
“Some people understand it, other people don’t,” Cal-Mum athletic director Mike Reed said. “They don’t understand how schools so close wouldn’t play one another.”
Athletic directors and other officials from both schools asked the league to accommodate for Friday’s game, given the anniversary-like symbolism of this year’s matchup.
“When you put in a crossover game it kind of screws things up,” Reed said. “You have teams not playing each other. We knew the other schools were aware of the significance of this year’s game, so they allowed our schools to play.
“I don’t see the other schools willing to make any sort of trade (beyond this season), if everything stays the same.”
Avon athletic director and football coach Andy Englert, coordinator of the Livingston County football league, said the plan for 2016 is again two eight-team divisions.
“No matter what kind of scheduling that you do it will affect someone,” Englert said. “Everyone loves the rivalry games, but you also look at what’s best for the league.
“What is best for the large schools, what is best for the small schools.”
Englert and Reed said there is a chance the Livingston County football league could go through more changes, but it depends on what the New York State Public High School Athletic Association determines are the enrollment figures for each football classification.
“We haven’t done scheduling yet, it’s still possible,” LeRoy athletic director Jon Wilson said. “Nothing is final until the final (enrollment) numbers come out.around February.
“It’s a community event. It’s something special, it really is, it’s certainly there. That’s why we would love the opportunity to continue the game. It means a lot to a lot of people.”
If you follow area high school football and notice more school districts are fielding combined teams to stay on the field, you are not alone.
“Football is going to change,” Reed said. “I don’t think the merger wheel is done spinning.”
Le Roy needed a kicker, so Mary Purdy stepped in
The right number of mergers or combinations can lead to another realignment of the Livingston County league, one that could put Cal-Mum and LeRoy into the same division or allow room for crossover, non-division or non-league games.
“You are going to have to realign the divisions anyway because you won’t have that nice, neat 16-team league,” Reed said.
There are gaps in the Cal-Mum versus LeRoy football series, led by Caledonia-Mumford 43-37-2, but none since 1965.
“It’s a great game,” former LeRoy athletic director and coach Brian Moran said. “We want it to continue, but is it good for the kids of today? Societies change. Enrollment numbers are changing.
“The big question is why hasn’t anyone talked about merging the Cal-Mum and LeRoy school districts.”