The 2003 season marked the end of another era in Butler history, as it would be the final season with head coach Steve Pelfrey at the helm. After five straight trips to the playoffs, Pelfrey would officially hang-up the whistle. It would be another ten years before the Aviators would make a return to the postseason.
Led by senior quarterback Mark Betts, the Aviators took a 6-3 record to Sidney's Julia Lamb Field for a Week 10 match-up that was expected to be rather pedestrian, and a good springboard into a Week 11 home playoff game. Unfortunately for the Aviators, a scrappy Yellow Jackets team would knock off Butler 20-9, sending them plummeting in the D-II Region 8 computer rankings. Not only did Butler lose the opportunity to host a game, they were on the bubble and in danger of missing the playoffs completely.
Butler did eventually make it in...but they were forced to make the trip south to Trenton, to face top-seeded and 10-0 Edgewood. The Aviators battled hard and even led 20-7 in the first half, but a pair of Edgewood touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, the winning one coming with just thirty-four second remaining would end the Aviators season in a 35-32 loss. Edgewood would go in to lose to Avon 10-7 in the D-II State Championship, marking the third time in five years that Butler had been ousted by either the eventual state champion or state runner-up.