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Bishop LeBlond head coach Tony Dudik speaks to his team during a game in the 2017 season at Eagles Stadium.

Bishop LeBlond announced Friday that the Golden Eagles will be playing 8-man football in 2019.

The Eagles, who saw roster numbers drop in 2018, will leave the MEC in football and begin a new challenge. Athletics Director Michael Evans felt like it was ultimately the right decision to keep the football program going despite no longer competing at the 11-man level.

“Bishop LeBlond has never backed down from competing with any school of any size,” Evans said. “Given our current enrollment and the local and national decline of students choosing to play football, we determined it was in the best interest of our students to move to the 8-man level.”

The school projects to have less than 200 students in attendance next year, which puts LeBlond into the 8-man category according to MSHSAA.

The discussions of moving from 11-man to 8-man began following the 2018 season but picked up more steam over the last month.

With a number of 8-man teams in northwest Missouri, piecing together a schedule will be the next step for Evans as the team prepares for its first season at the 8-man level.

“I contacted every 8-man school in the state of Missouri, I sent them an email basically informing them that we’re going 8-man and if anyone has any openings, please feel free to reach out,” Evans said.

In 2019, LeBlond finished the season with an 0-10 record. As of now, Tony Dudik is still the head coach of the program. Dudik has coached 11-man for more than 40 years in St. Joseph

While the Eagles will no longer compete in the MEC in football, the school will continue in the MEC in all other sports.

In a press release, Bishop LeBlond indicated hopes of return to 11-man football in the future. The school believes those hopes would’ve drastically diminished by getting rid of the football program altogether.

John Zetmeir can be reached

at john.zetmeir@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZetmeir.