Elmira , N.Y. (WENY) - Football has always been important at Notre Dame High School in Elmira. But with a diminishing turnout, the sport that's meant so much to the school was jeopardized. Don't worry Crusader fans, football isn't going anywhere.

With less people signing up to play football at Notre Dame, the Crusaders elected to switch from 11-man to 8-man football. Head Coach Mike D'Aloisio says, "We just felt it was the best thing for us to maintain football at Notre Dame High School. It's still excellent competition, it's still the game of football and in some respects it may be faster and maybe a little more exciting."

D'Aloisio has coached for 36 seasons at Notre Dame High School, tallying 233 wins. Switching from 11 to 8 men on the field is an adjustment not just for the players, but the coaches as well. Defenses and special teams units need to cover the same amount of ground, with three less players. As an offensive coach, D'Aloisio is excited about the possibilities.  He says, "I think it's gonna be a lot of scoring in here and hopefully I can do the right thing. Coach Johnston and Coach Stevens and Coach Mayo do a great job on our defensive side of the ball, but I think it's going to be an exciting thing for fans to watch."

The most important factor that played into this decision is it ensured that football will remain at Notre Dame for years to come. Senior running back and defensive back Kyreese Fisher says, "Notre Dame is a great program and football has been here for years. Coach D, Coach Johnston, Coach Stevens, great coaches and it's great that football can still be here even if it's taking a few players of the field." 

Coach D'Aloisio says, "Football has been such an integral part of our history here at Notre Dame High School and we've had a number of excellent players come through. We've had success through the years and kids want to play. Winning's important but it's the life lessons you learn by playing football that really helps people, and that's why I've enjoyed it for so many years."

Notre Dame will host Lansing for their first game of the year this Saturday at 7 PM.