No. 1 L/E/M defeats Thompson to advance to state quarterfinals
It has been a long time since L/E/M, or any form of the co-op has made a first-round exit from the state playoffs. Saturday's matchup against the Tommies was no different from the Cardinals' finishes over the last four seasons.
After a slower start than the Cardinals are accustomed to, an offensive surge in the second quarter would advance No. 1 Langdon/Edmore/Munich (10-0, 1-0 Class A Playoffs) past Thompson (4-3, 0-1 Class A Playoffs) 43-6. Small adjustments as the game moved forward strengthen the Cardinals on both sides of the ball.
"They're by far the best team we've played this year and they presented some challenges to us, both offensively and defensively," Cardinals head coach Josh Krivarchka said. "I thought our kids made plays when they had to and we had some turnovers, which is not what we want to do in the postseason, but I thought overall it was a good team win."
Early on the Tommies keyed into the Cardinals two-time All-State quarterback senior Simon Romfo as he was under pressure early and would fumble 5-yards shy of the end zone. He would also throw an interception into the end zone in the second quarter.
However, Simon's triumphs outweighed his flaws as he would run for two touchdowns and throw for one in the finish. He would also go make one of two extra points on the day. Krivarchka said the Cardinals front line game Simon a handful of options throughout the game.
"The big thing is we have a lot of options on the outside and we just have to get the kids to make plays," Krivarchka said. "We're going to find things for him [Simon] to be successful out there and he made some nice plays today. I thought when we had to, we were really protective upfront."
Senior running back Grant Romfo had a strong showing for the Cardinals as he would score two touchdowns on the day. Grant would also play a key role in building L/E/M's momentum going into halftime as he would lateral a pass from Simon to sophomore wide receiver Markus Kingzett, who would rush it in for the score with 16 seconds left in the half. While the play did look a little improvised, Krivarchka said the play was executed the way it was supposed to be.
"That was a hook-and-ladder play we called, and we thought it was the right situation," Krivarchka said. " We were tip toeing along the sidelines, but our kids executed it well."
Cardinals would see production from sophomore running back Carter Tetrault in the second quarter to put L/E/M up 16-0. Thompson would snap the shutout bid in the late second quarter as Jakob Starcevic would make the grab quarterback Kyle Odenbach, however, the offensive production would halt there for Thompson.
While the scoring stopped for the Tommies, Odenbach was still a force to be reckoned with, continuing to make long rushes for Thompson. Krivarchka said his team just needed to make the adjustment into slowing Odenbach down.
"He takes a deep drop and just buys time," Krivarchka said. "We talked about it all week where we just need to get to that quarterback. We did at times, but they did a good job upfront too and credit to them."
In finding success in the playoffs in the past, the Cardinals have played heavily on execution and focus from everyone. When the veteran players stepped off late in the game, the younger core was able to hold down a lead and eventually help L/E/M to the win.
"I thought at times we executed well, but credit to Thompson," Krivarchka said. "They took us out of things here and there, and in the playoffs that's going to happen. Overall, I thought our kids executed well overall both on offense and defense."
As the Cardinals move deeper and deeper into their season, more is on the line and the sense of competition heightens on both ends of the field. L/E/M hosts No. 4 Oakes on Oct. 31 in Class A quarterfinals. The Tornadoes have one loss on the season coming to No. 2 Lisbon. In the first round, Oakes dispatched Carrington 36-0 off of five touchdowns from quarterback Garret Meehl.
While they aren't in the same region, the Cardinals and the Tornadoes are very familiar with each other. Last season L/E/M blew past Oakes in quarterfinals 50-13. Following that win, the Cardinals would blank Lisbon 50-0 and defeat Bishop Ryan for the 2019 Class A state title.
"We played Oakes last year in the playoffs so we're pretty familiar with them," Krivarchka said. "We understand the challenges in which teams and what each team presents to us. We'll go back to the drawing board and our kids will be ready to go on Saturday."
Saturday Lake Region scores
No. 1 Langdon/Edmore/Munich - 43
Thompson - 6
No. 4 Kindred - 38
RV Devils Lake - 22
RV Fargo Shanley - 3 (25-20, 25-15, 25-22)
Devils Lake - 0