Deering High School's Michael Randall, left, and Portland High School's Zachary Elowitch, right, carry the football in games played last fall. Some parents in Maine's largest city want the crosstown rivals to combine their football teams. Credit: Pete Warner and Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Crosstown rivals Portland High School and Deering High School have played an annual Thanksgiving Day football game for 107 years and counting.

Now, some parents in Maine’s largest city want the schools to consider joining up to field a single team between them, citing low participation in Portland’s youth and middle school football programs, according to the Portland Press Herald.

“To me (consolidation) just seems so obviously the right thing to do. Neither team has enough to play Class A football safely,” Joan Fortin, a parent of a player on the Deering team, told the newspaper.

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“If you look at the data, look at the demographics, everything trends toward (consolidation) having to happen in the future,” agreed Mark Green, a parent of a Portland High School player.

Participation among children between grades 2 and 8 in tackle football programs in Portland Youth League Football have dropped from 190 in 2015 to just 97 last year, the Press Herald reported.

A forum to discuss the state of football in the city at all levels is being held at Portland Arts & Technology High School Thursday at 6 p.m.

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The forum is described by the school department as a “check-in,” and Portland High School’s athletics director told the Press Herald he hopes to use the meeting more to discuss rebuilding the city’s youth football programs than work toward consolidating high school teams.

Portland reached the Class A state championship game this past season, where it lost to Thornton Academy of Saco.

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Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.