In the long run coach Butt feels this is what is best for the program.

It was announced this past weekend that Crookston Pirate Football and Pirate Wrestling will each be dropping down a class next season.

Wrestling, which is moving from Class AA to A, competed in Class A just two seasons ago and competed regularly with other Class A teams during their stint in Class AA.

Football, on the other hand, has competed in Class AAA for decades and rarely competed against many of the teams it will now be facing in Class AA.

Now in Section 8AA, Pirate Football faced Warroad each of the past two seasons and has scrimmaged Hawley. Other than that, the new section will be, just that, new with teams like Bagley, Barnesville, Frazee, Badger/Greenbush-Middle River, United North Central, Hawley and Warroad.

"It's been a busy morning," Pirate head coach Scott Butt told the Times Monday. "It's a bittersweet thing. I believe we matched up well with Pequot Lakes and Park Rapids and those teams. We gave Thief River Falls and Detroit Lakes a run for their money. You worry about playing those big teams. If we've got to go with a number two and they do, too, they're going with a junior or senior where we are probably going with a sophomore. Chances are Bagley or Hawley will be going with a sophomore too. This gives our kids a real chance to compete and be successful."

Coach Butt isn't sure what next season's schedule will look like at this point.

"I don't know where we stand as far as what it's going to do to our regular season schedule," he said. "We may be locked in for a year. Hopefully the schedule will get changed so we can play some of these teams before going into the section playoffs."

In the long run coach Butt feels this is what is best for the program.

"It's hard to imagine not playing a Crookston-East Grand Forks game," said coach Butt. "Both communities get jacked up for those games. Thief River Falls too. It's hard to walk away from those. When you're building a program you have to look at what's best for the program. Ultimately, we want to build the program back to where it should be when we had Les Drechsel and Eric Schmidt. I believe this is the right decision. I think the state high school league did the right thing. I don't see our competition going down. That's not a slouch football team in Hawley."

The main concern for coach Butt is increasing numbers.

"We still have to practice and play hard," he said. "It's not like things are on a silver platter for us. We have to get our numbers up. We have a ninth grade class with five kids in it. Hopefully with this reclassification kids will say, "You know what, I do want to play football."

Everybody hopes the rivalries with East Grand Forks and Thief River Falls continue.

"I hope to play Thief River and East Grand," said coach Butt. "It depends on how the schedule breaks down. The Heart O' Lakes Conferences assigns your schedule to you. We're in a holding pattern, waiting to see how all this shakes out. When I heard the news I was happy and sad at the same time. Ultimately we are trying to build a program that's successful no matter what level we're at. We have zero control over moving to Class AA. It's a sad day and a happy day all in one."

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