Friday Night Lights go out in Pine River-Backus

The declining population of small towns and the growing concern over the safety of children are teaming up to kill football at Pine River-Backus High School.

“We are low on numbers,” PRB activities director Randy Schwegel tells the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. “We have 22 kids or so. We have only one senior and we have 11 ninth-graders. For the safety of those kids—you know, putting a ninth-grader out there against seniors—we didn’t feel it was a wise decision.”

So the football season is off, he announced.

“If you put 160-pound freshman linemen out there against 240-pound senior linemen, and they get beat up, they are not going to enjoy that and we might not see them again,” Schwegel said. “We are looking at what we feel is best for our football players right now.”

Instead, football fans will have to be content watching the JV team play on Friday nights, although it won’t travel to Warroad, Fosston or Ada-Borup as the varsity would have.

“I never thought I would see this day,” Schwegel said. “Our numbers have been good over the past few years, but we kind of saw this coming last year. We graduated a pretty good core of seniors, which left us with just one senior. We thought we would have two or three … We are hoping to piece together our schedule and get these kids some games this fall so they do gain that experience.”

The paper says most of the team’s coaches will be retained although a scouting position is being eliminated.