On Monday the 13th, the Crawford school board voted to transition their football program from eight-man to six-man for the next two years.
In the end, the decision came down to enrollment numbers as the team expects a total of 11 or 12 players for 2018 fall season.
“As soon as we knew we fell under the 27 limit for the playoffs, it was a pretty easy decision, I think, for us,” says Crawford Athletic Director Rick Barry.
The move will mean a little less travel, with six to seven schools, according to Barry, within a couple of hours drive.
“It’s a positive for us,” he says, “it won’t be any five-hour trips. Most of the trips will be within two to three hours, [and that] was another positive [of making the move] for our board.”
The transition also means the Rams will immediately have a rival opponent in the Sioux County Warriors, and perhaps even in the Hay Springs Hawks, who were one win away from qualifying for the State Championship this season.
According to Barry the team will likely also add schools like Cody-Kilgore, Minatare, and Potter-Dix to their schedule, and potentially some South Dakota schools in the future.
“South Dakota is debating, and going to vote, I think, this year on whether they go six-man, not for the 2018 season, but for the following season” says Barry.
Barry believes the move is ultimately the best thing for the team, and that fans and players alike will adjust to the change in time, and enjoy what six-man football has to offer.
“Six-man is a very exciting game, [there’s] a lot of action, scoring, and open space,” according to Barry. “It will be a change, and it takes a while to get used to change. Hopefully our fans accept it, which I think they will.”
The change to six-man won’t be the only one for members of the Rams’ team, as Coach John Jones has resigned and will not be returning next season. According to Barry, the search for a new coach will begin after the new year.