This fall, Newark and other area high school football teams will be competing against one another like they did five years ago.
Gone will be traveling great distances on buses to play teams from high schools of the same size, a requirement of Section V Federation football scheduling which was instituted 5 years ago.
Since 2019, Newark, a Class B school under Section V size of school classification, played other Class B schools like Batavia, Bishop-Kearney, Monroe, Livonia, and Honeoye Falls-Lima.
Newark Central said in a statement "The scheduling change has slowly eroded the prevailing competitive spirit that used to be evident by playing nearby rivals. Not only morale, but team and fan base sizes have been shrinking because of diminished interest in the sport. It has also resulted in increased injuries because smaller teams mean fewer players are on the field more often."
“The Federation football schedule has been a detriment to football in our area,’ said Jonathan Mastin, Director of Physical Education, Health, and Athletics for the Newark Central School District.
With only 21 players returning from the 2022 fall season, Mastin joined forces with some other area schools frustrated with the results of Section V Federation Scheduling.
With a green light from players and parents, they’ve created the Wayne-Finger Lakes Independent Football League which will be made up of 2 divisions. Newark, Palmyra-Macedon, Midlakes and Waterloo make up the East Division and Marcus Whitman, Mynderse, South Seneca and Clyde Savannah are in the West Division.
Teams in the new Wayne-Finger Lakes Independent Football League will play each other this season as well as some non-league games with other schools in the region that have gone independent. Newark will travel to Ithaca and Greece to play these high school teams next season, but they will be non-league games.
“The mission of the Wayne-Finger Lakes Independent Football League is to foster and promote participation in the game of football in our area by providing our student-athletes an opportunity to compete in a safe and competitive environment. Our goal is to provide our student-athletes with a positive experience by creating a regionally based schedule that offers member schools greater flexibility and control over their schedules," Mastin said.
The eight schools in the Wayne-Finger Lakes Independent Football League are still members of Section V, but unable to compete in sectionals.
“Our athletes will be eligible for All Star Recognition, participation in the Eddie Meath All Star Game and All Greater Rochester recognition. Unfortunately, we will not be eligible to compete in sectionals. Football is the only sport in Section V where a school that competes as an independent is not eligible for sectionals,” Mastin continued. “It is my understanding that prior to the implementation of Federation scheduling, other school such as Batavia, competed as independents, had control of their schedule, and were still eligible for sectional play.
“This flexibility allowed these programs to grow and develop according to what was best for their individual programs. Ultimately, Batavia won 3 Section V Championships while they were an independent team. This success is the result of a lot of hard work and dedication by the players and coaches within that school district, but the decision to go independent allowed them to grow their program based on their individual needs. Although we will reevaluate our position at the end of the next season, we are making a two-year commitment to step away from Federation scheduling, focus on the recruitment and retainment of our student athletes, rebuild our program and put ourselves in a position to compete in sectionals in the Fall of 2025."