The merger of Juneau's high-school football teams is altering the balance of the state's football divisions, leaving them likely to be reshaped.

Juneau Douglas High School and Thunder Mountain will join forces in 2018. The Alaska School Activities Association approved the request during Thursday's special board meeting.

Both programs have also lost players over the last few years, which created safety issues as younger players lined up against older more experienced ones. Both schools have also lost big chunks of money over the last few years, especially Thunder Mountain -- the Falcons started this season more than $100,000 in the red.

"It's not an easy decision, but one that was easily made, if that makes sense, " ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland said, adding that the hard work starts now.

The combined team in Juneau moves up to Division I, leaving the Southeast Conference with just one team and an uncertain future for Division II football.

"What we have now is six teams playing Division II, which isn't enough to qualify for a state championship," said Strickland, as North Pole will also join Division I in 2018.

The only thing certain is that there will be high-school football in Alaska next season -- but it will very likely have a new look.

 ASAA's Classification Committee will meet Nov. 12-13 to discuss how to realign all of the conferences around the state.