Holland Patent and Proctor football will likely never play a game against each other.
Still, the two programs managed to find a way to cross paths with a weekly joint practice during the season.
“Our kids get to go up against live bodies on a Tuesday or a Wednesday,” Proctor head coach Steve Strife said. “They run the stuff that we’re going to see on Friday and we run the stuff they’re going to see on Friday. It’s a great tool.”
This is the second year the Raiders and Golden Knights have practiced with each other, something Strife believes is a good change of pace for his players.
“Sometimes when you practice against someone everyday, you realize that person is better than you and you give up,” he said. “The Holland Patent kids don’t give up and our kids don’t give up.”
While joint practices aren’t unique to the two schools, they are rare to find around the Utica area.
“I’m very surprised other teams don’t do it,” Strife said. “The Syracuse teams do it, we’re doing it and it’s beneficial for both programs.”
It even helped the Golden Knights capture their first league title in 21 years after they beat Notre Dame 42-14 last Saturday.
“(Proctor) is the fastest team we’re going to see all year,” Holland Patent head coach Brian Briggs said. “They have great athletes. We do a lot of 7-on-7 with them and it’s a great practice for us.”
It’s also a homecoming for Orlando Cross, the current Golden Knights lineman who moved to Holland Patent from Proctor over the offseason.
“It’s really nice because I get to come back and I get to see all my old friends and all my old mentors,” Cross said. “Proctor was my family and I still think of them as my family.”
The feeling between him and the Raiders is mutual.
“I was his sixth grade physical education teacher,” Strife said. He’s playing for coach Briggs and I couldn’t be happier. He’s having a good season and our guys are having a good season. There are no hard feelings.”
The two teams wrap up regular season play on Saturday with Proctor hosting Cicero-North Syracuse and Holland Patent going up against Canastota.