No. 1 L/E/M rumbles past No. 5 Grafton for Region 2 title, perfect regular season
The Cardinals love big football games. A team that has been to the FargoDome over the last three seasons, the Cardinals thrive when the pressure is on and the steaks are high.
The Cardinals have barreled through the entire regular season, winning every game by an average of 42 points, and have allowed only nine points in their last three games.
In its final game of the regular season, No. 1 Langdon/Edmore/Munich (9-0, 7-0 Region 2), on paper, faced its biggest challenge of the year in No. 5 Grafton (7-2, 6-1 Region 2). Instead of floundering under the pressure of a big game, the Cardinals flourished as they would roll past the spoilers, 45-6, capturing the Region 2 regular season title and in their fourth straight perfect regular season.
"This is the best we've played all season," Cardinals head coach Josh Krivarchka said. "Our kids love big football games and we've been stressing all week this one of the big ones, for the region championship, I thought from the opening kickoff we really set the tone. It was just a great overall team win for us."
The Cardinals made their ambitions known from start to finish as they scored on every drive from the beginning of the first quarter to halftime. The Spoilers struggled to contain L/E/M's rush and spark their own offensive execution as the dust would settle at halftime with the Cardinals up 39-0.
"It all starts up front and if we can give our athletes time to run what they want to run we're pretty special out there," Krivarchka said. "I thought that was the best game we played up front all year and it showed. We picked up their blitzes and let our athletes make plays in space."
Seniors running back Grant Romfo and quarterback Simon Romfo charged L/E/M's offense once again, combining for three touchdowns on the night. A 20-yard dish from Simon to Grant for the score at the end of the first quarter emphasized the impact of their connection on offense to the Cardinals. It took only two plays, both passes from Simon to Grant, on that drive to add another touchdown for L/E/M.
The Romfo twins are playing at a high level, but the Cardinals coaching staff knows there's even more that the duo is capable of. Krivarchka said these past few weeks he's been challenging the twins to play up to their expectations. Friday night Simon and Grant controlled the game on both sides of the ball.
"We've been challenging them the last few weeks because I don't think they've necessarily played up to their expectations. Tonight, they played really well," Krivarchka said. "Going forward that's what we need out of them. They're special athletes and we need them to make plays like that."
As veterans of L/E/M's program, which has amounted to back-to-back state championships and three state championship game appearances in their time with the Cardinals, the coaching staff plans on pushing the Romfo twins even more as they are aware of what it takes to win.
While the Romfo twins had a strong night, the Cardinals all-around effort saw players young and old contribute to the win. Sophomore running back Carter Tetrault found the end zone twice for the Cardinals, rushing in L/E/M's only score of the second half. Sophomore wide receiver Markus Kingzett would making a leaping grab for the score off a pass from Simon for the Cardinals' first touchdown of the game, and senior wide receiver Cooper Zimmer would hold on long enough for L/E/M's second score of the game.
In addition to the starters getting some heavy work, the Cardinals once again sent in their younger core, who will be stepping up to replace seven seniors next fall, to close out the game. While they did allow one touchdown off of a grab from Spoilers quarterback Juan Villarreal to Chance Burns, they stopped a two-point conversion and capped off the win for L/E/M.
"We want them to be involved in wins like this," Krivarchka said. "We're trying to build our program from the little guys on up and when they get a chance on Friday nights to go out and perform, we have the same expectations as our varsity players. They need to compete hard and do their job. I thought we did that pretty well tonight."
The Cardinals have been down this road a few times as they head into the playoffs as the number one seed facing Thompson on Oct. 24 in Langdon. The Tommies finished in third place in Region 1 behind No. 2 Lisbon and No. 4 Oakes. Both of the Tommies losses this season are to Lisbon and Oakes.
The key is to keep getting better, with a mix of staying healthy due to the ongoing pandemic. The Cardinals are well aware of what it takes as they've been through this process multiple times.
"You get more excited as a coach and your kids get more excited when you get deeper into the playoffs and playing bigger games," Krivarchka said. "These kids have been around and have been through it. The excitement level kicks up during big games and tonight we saw that we can play at a whole other level."
Friday Lake Region football scores
No. 1 Langdon/Edmore/Munich - 45
No.5 Grafton - 6
Devils Lake - 27
Wahpeton - 26