The Merge: Cresskill and Emerson Football Programs Possible Merge


One month after the 2022 football season at Cresskill High School ended, the school announced that they would be evaluating the possibility of merging football programs with Emerson High School. In October, Emerson school districts sent out an email to the conference explaining how the upcoming 2023 season would be nearly impossible to conduct due to the lack of returning and emerging players. They were looking to start a co-op program, and Cresskill emailed them back to “See if it’s something we would be interested in doing,” said the Head Coach of the Cresskill Football team, Kevin Quinn. 

During the recent Cresskill town hall meeting held at Merritt Memorial Elementary school, representatives from both sides sat down and discussed the situation. The details that were shared were nothing short of complicated. 

A high school football team should ideally be made up of at least sixteen players according to Coach Quinn. For the 2023 season, it seems as though the Emerson Cavos will only have twelve. Without a merger, a football program quite literally cannot exist at Emerson High School. Similarly, a lack of players this coming season seems to be in the cards for the Cresskill Cougars. Only 20 players are on track to play next season. 

Cresskill and Emerson’s history as longtime rivals would have to be ceased in order for the team to succeed. Both teams would have to be familiar with one another and practice together; that unity translates onto the field. However, how these practices will work with the merge is a question many people are asking. As of right now, it seems as though practices will take place at CHS but the schedule for the players transportation is unclear. 

Not only would the merger affect the football team, it would also impact the marching bands and cheer teams. Both are vital to the joyful environment and energy that exists every Friday night. The marching bands can learn the same music, but the routine that is performed at half-time takes an immense amount of practice. The same goes for the cheer team: choreographing a cheer routine requires lots of practice; the routines are complex and require a great amount of trust. The marching bands and cheer teams from both schools must practice together if they plan on doing a joint routine. All three aspects of the beloved Friday nights are going to be greatly impacted, but the schools have yet to figure out what would happen if the merge is completed. 

Emerson has once tried this co-op football program last year, attempting to merge with Park Ridge; it did not succeed because the league did not approve of it. 

Coach Quinn said that he doesn’t “know what the league would come down to.” If the league does decide to allow the merge, the combined team would likely move up to Group 2. The Cougar-Cavo team would then be playing bigger schools with bigger teams. 

 Cresskill has looked into other options besides the merge. If the merge does not go through for whatever reason, Coach Quinn says there are “two other options, [Cresskill] could go down to the Union League division, or stay in our Patriot division and keep fighting through and keep working.” 

Both options face their own pros and cons. Going down to the union league means facing smaller teams and schools that are likely struggling with their own numbers. Although this sounds like a beneficial move, moving down to the Union League would mean there would be no state playoff eligibility. The other option of building the team in the school (no merge) and staying in the current division would be a tough move considering the current number of players and interest from upcoming high schoolers. Although there are other options available, Coach Quinn stated “if [Cresskill] wanted to [merge], it’s gonna be very very likely.”