The Oregon Schools Activities Assocation approved of the drop in class from 5A to 4A Monday morning after hearing testimony from the school's athletics director and principal about hardships the school was facing with a drop in enrollment and the unfair advantage the team faced in playing against 5A sized schools.
"Our enrollment here at Marshfield in the last 5 years has decreased considerably, and we are currently about 770," said Marshfield Assistant Principal Bryan Tresdell. "The cut off for 4A is 870, and so we're about 100 kids below that cut-off mark."
The school began asking for a drop in class size and change in league for the past two years.
Tresdell said there were many disadvantages the team was facing if it remained in Class 5A.
"The teams have more players they can switch out with if there are injuries," he said. "These teams are larger, and some of the 5A teams are almost the same size as a 6A team."
Tresdell said the move to the Far West League would make it easier for families to attend more games.
"We were playing many teams in the Eugene area and in the Willamette Valley. That's about a two hour or more drive for our teams," he said. "That was just not something many of our families and students who like to go to games could afford on a regular basis."
Tresdell said the Pirates will face teams within a closer driving distance like Siuslaw and those in the Umpqua Basin.
"The team the farthest distance away is Brookings, so that's still quite a drive," he said. "But many teams are an hour to an hour and a half away now."
The move to the Far West League also puts a heavier value on the highly popular "Civil War" game between the Pirates and their cross-town rivals the North Bend Bulldogs.
A win or a loss in that game could now be the difference between who is the leader in conference play if a team was headed for a perfect season.
"I could see a situation in which a perfect season in conference play is riding on that game," Tresdell said.
Marshfield is set to start Far West League play next school year.