The Rome Free Academy football team will kick off its first season under new coach Jake DerCola on Friday, Aug. 31, when the Black Knights host Nottingham High of Syracuse in a non-league game at the Stadium.
The 2018 Section III schedule was announced by football co-chairman Keith Kempney on Monday.
RFA will play in the Class AA-2 Division, joined by Baldwinsville, Cicero-North Syracuse, Fayetteville-Manlius, West Genesee and longtime rival Proctor High of Utica. Last year, the Black Knights played in the Class AA-1 Division.
The Black Knights’ seven-game regular season schedule includes four home games.
In addition to the opener against Nottingham, Rome is home against Whitesboro on Friday, Sept. 7, for another non-leaguer. RFA also will host a pair of Class AA-2 games on Friday, Sept. 28, against Fayetteville-Manlius and on Friday, Oct. 5, against Proctor. All home games start at 7 p.m.
The road games are against C-NS on Friday, Sept. 14 at 7; Baldwinsville on Friday, Sept. 21 at 6:30, and West Genesee on Friday, Oct. 12 at 6.
Longtime rivals Proctor and Rome were in opposite divisions last season.
Central Square, which played in Class AA-1 last year, is dropping down to Class A.
RFA is coming off a 1-8 season under Ted Swavely, who resigned in November after nine years at the helm.
DerCola was approved as the new head coach during the Board of Education meeting on March 1. He is a physical education teacher at Notre Dame High in Utica and spent four seasons as the school’s head football coach, posting a record of 28-10 that includes consecutive Section III Class C championships in 2014 and 2015.
There are eight teams in the Class B East Division, including holdovers Camden, Oneida, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, Cazenovia, Central Valley Academy, Mexico, New Hartford and newcomer Chittenango. The Bears replace Notre Dame, which is now playing in the Class C Southeast Division.
Oneida and VVS will both open their seasons at Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome. The Indians will play New Hartford on Thursday, Aug. 30, and the Red Devils will face CVA on Aug. 31.
Camden will travel to Chittenango for its season opener on Aug. 31.
A pair of newcomers — Notre Dame from Class B and Mount Markham from Class D — join Adirondack, Clinton, Holland Patent, Canastota, Little Falls and Sherburne-Earlville in an eight-team, Class C Southeast Division.
Adirondack visits Mount Markham on Aug. 31, while Holland Patent hosts Clinton on Sept. 1.
Westmoreland will play in the Class D East Division along with defending Section III champion Dolgeville, Frankfort-Schuyler, Herkimer, Sauquoit Valley, Waterville and West Canada Valley. The Bulldogs are home for Herkimer on Sept. 1.
Oriskany and South Lewis will again play in the eight-man football league with Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, Bishop Grimes, Cooperstown, New York Mills and Pulaski. Oriskany opens up on the road against Cooperstown on Sept. 15, while South Lewis visits Pulaski on Sept. 15.
Fowler High of Syracuse, Oswego, Phoenix and South Jefferson will play in a new Section III Developmental League.