They are rivals on the field. They may soon be teammates.

The Juneau School District on Wednesday formally requested the football teams at Juneau-Doulgas High School and Thunder Mountain High School merge and be housed at JDHS. The cheer programs at both schools would also merge and be based at Juneau-Douglas.

Students from both campuses would be eligible to compete for either squad. The change would take effect in time for the start of the 2017-18 season.

District leaders announced the planned merger back in October, as they said the district can not afford to offer both programs at both schools.

The football team at Thunder Mountain High School started the 2017 season at more than $100,000 in debt, while Juneau-Douglas had a deficit close to $6,000. However, district leaders say money is not the only factor in the decision.

"We had underclassmen participating in competition against upperclassmen from other schools, and in some cases, it just creates a safety concern with having much younger and less developed players playing with much older, more matured players," said JSD Chief of Staff Kristin Bartlett.

The merger request went to the Alaska ASchool Activities Association, or ASAA, which has the final call. No word yet when board members will take up the matter.