Thunder Mountain High School and cross-town rival Juneau Douglas High School are about to team up, at least where football is concerned. Both programs will merge starting in 2018, as players from both schools are eligible to play for the team that will be based at JDHS. Juneau School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Miller says it's the right call.

"Fact of the matter is, there are fewer kids playing football now than there used to be," Miller told KTVA Sports after the Alaska School Activities Association approved the merger Thursday afternoon.

Freshmen and sophomores accounted for 50 percent of each team this season. Miller says safety turned out to be a big reason to combine the program.

"We really do end up playing with kids matching up to maybe 80 pounds under who they are facing on the opposite side of the line, and that's not good for anybody," said Miller.

Finances posed another major problem. Football at Thunder Mountain lost more than $100,000 in the three years before this season started. Miller expects the deficit to reach nearly $150,000 after this year's numbers are added.

Many of Thunder Mountain's players will take the field next season. They'll do so in Division I next year, with players considered rivals as recently as last month.