No. 1 L/E/M using same focused attack in hunt for third straight state title
Since 2017, Langdon/Edmore/Munich football has been a force to reckon with in NDHSAA Class A football. In those past three seasons, the Cardinals have accumulated back-to-back state titles in 2018 and 2019, three state championship game appearances, and a record of 36-1.
Finishing up the 2020 regular season, L/E/M has found a way to elevate its game even more, not only finishing with a perfect regular-season record of 9-0 but defeating its opposition by an average of 42 points. However, despite an even impressive showing by the Cardinals this season, the team is approaching the playoffs the same way they have the last three seasons.
"The mentality is what it has always been, that we want to get better each day," Cardinals head coach Josh Krivarchka said. "Our kids understand now that it's win or go home and each practice is important to get to the weekend. You prepare the best you can to play on Saturday."
Behind L/E/M's driving force into the playoffs is a senior core that in Krivarchka's words "has played a season's worth of playoff games", and a younger core that is learning from that senior class on how to execute. Most games have seen the starters do the majority of the damage in the first half and the younger core comes in to close out the game.
Leading that early strike is senior quarterback Simon Romfo and senior running back Grant Romfo, who have powered the Cardinals on both ends of the ball throughout their high school career. Simon, L/E/M's two-time All-State quarterback, is looking to execute even more heading into this weekend's playoff matchup against Thompson.
"We executed well, but we want to take it to another level," Simon said. "We want to go out, execute, and play with a lot of energy and emotion. That's when we play a lot better."
Energy and emotion were the driving force behind the Cardinals dominating win over No. 5 Grafton/St. Thomas last Friday as L/E/M put the Spoilers away with ease. The Cardinals scored on every offensive drive in the first half to rack up a halftime score of 39-0. Experience and excitement for a challenge have allowed this Cardinals squad to stand out in comparison to past seasons.
"We've been hungry in past, but this year we have a handful of younger guys and they're hungry to get their opportunity to win a state championship," Grant said.
The younger group of players on L/E/M's roster may not get too much playing time coming up, but that hunger to play drives them not just on game day but at practice. Compared to other schools in the region, the Cardinals' younger group has received a lot more playing time than other underclassmen might have.
Building that experience heading forward, past this season's playoffs, is important as L/E/M will be filling the void of seven seniors come the end of the season, which includes Simon, Grant, and another offensive weapon in wide receiver Cooper Zimmer.
"The biggest thing is that experience is invaluable at this time," Krivarchka said. "Just to get them to practice with us these next few weeks is great to have. We want to have them around and get better."
As the Cardinals continue to make plans about the future, the Romfo twins have also taken into consideration where they will end up next season. Grant has received offers from St. John's, Culver-Stockton, Jamestown, and Minnesota State Moorhead, and Simon has received offers from St. John's, Jamestown, and Minnesota State Moorhead. Simon said the brothers have not decided if they're going to play together in college.
Future plans have been placed on the back-burner for the L/E/M and the Romfo's as both parties are focused on their opponent, Thompson, on Saturday. While the Tommies are the last team in they came out of one of the most competitive regions in the state, with only two losses on the season to No. 2 Lisbon and No. 4 Oakes. The loss to Oakes came by only seven points, 21-14.
"They're a really good football team," Krivarchka said. "They've only lost two games to state-ranked teams and they have some quality athletes. Come Saturday we have to make sure we're ready for them."
L/E/M is aware that they are going to get everyone's best game the deeper and deeper they go in the playoffs. However, the Cardinals are aware that a strong sense of focus and hard work will get them to where they need to be. The team is so familiar with playoff situations that they any nerves they might have disappears by the time the ball snaps according to Simon.
While there is a drive of emotion and passion to win, there's a strong sense of focus L/E/M is keyed in on to be successful and stay on the field until mid-November. For a senior class that has won back to back state titles and doesn't remember a year when they weren't at the FargoDome, they are well aware of what it takes and what they are capable of.
"It would be incredibly special to win a state title with it being the seniors last year here," Grant said. "We just have to keep doing our job, execute the game plan coach puts forward and make plays."
L/E/M regular season finishes
Aug 21. vs. Northern Cass W 59-14
Aug. 28 vs. Hatton/Northwood W 58-0
Sept. 4 vs. Park River W 56-8
Sept. 11 vs. Rugby W 48-0
Sept. 18 vs. Harvey/Wells W 48-16
Sept. 25 vs. Westhope/Newburg/Glenburn W 47-12
Oct. 25 vs. Bottineau W 56-0
Oct. 9 vs. Carrington W 30-0
Oct. 16 vs Grafton W 45-6