No. 1 L/E/M making adjustments after opponent Oakes forfeits due to positive COVID-19 case
It's not the BYE the Cardinals wanted. In fact, they rather be playing on Saturday.
No. 1 Langdon/Edmore/Munich was informed Monday afternoon that its NDHSAA Class A quarterfinal matchup against No. 4 Oakes was canceled, due to a positive COVID-19 Oakes test, and that they would receive a BYE to state semifinals on Nov. 7. The Cardinals weren't celebrating but were shocked by the news.
"It made me queasy to my stomach when I first heard it," Cardinals head coach Josh Krivarchka said. "You just feel for the kids and coaches at Oakes for the time and energy that they put in. Then you start feeling for our kids because aside from knowing we're not eliminated from the playoffs, we don't have a team to play this weekend. We've had to change things up."
The game between Oakes and L/E/M was looking to be a competitive one as the Tornadoes blanked Carrington in the quarterfinals 36-0 while the Cardinals blew past Thompson 43-6. Teams in the region have lost games or ended the season early due to COVID-19, but being directly impacted by a game cancelation, specifically in the playoffs, has made the reality around the Cardinals more and more real.
"During the year we had a few close contacts that hit home and there's a reality of that," Krivarchka said. "As coaches, we preach that when you get to the playoffs, and this point, that if it happens, you have to forfeit. The kids are taking a lot of personal responsibility for what they're doing, but when it happens to your opponent it really hits home. It opens your eyes and shows that their responsibility needs to carry out for the rest of the year"
A week off is rare anytime during the season and L/E/M is making adjustments to make sure that they are still challenging its team while not burning them out. While practices may be shortened a bit Krivarchka said the coaching staff is still keeping the pressure on.
In addition, L/E/M has already begun to study up on both No. 4 Shiloh Christian and Bishop Ryan, one of which will meet the Cardinals in Langdon on Nov. 11. Shiloh Christian shut out Kenmare/Bowbells/Burke 32-0 last Saturday and Bishop Ryan defeated Killdeer 40-18. Preparation for both teams started in today's practice according to Krivarchka.
While having been to the state title game for the last three seasons and looking for its third straight title this season, Monday's news is something new to an L/E/M team that has been through the playoffs year after year. It's a new adjustment that the Cardinals are hoping to adapt to.
"It's something you never really prepare for and it's something you never really want to prepare for," Krivarchka said. "Our kids are mature and have been through the playoff grind before. We'll adapt our schedule, but our kids will have no excuses and will get ready for next week's game."
Precautions are in place not just at Langdon Area High School, but in the community as well. Cavalier County is one of the few counties in North Dakota that has at the "new normal" and "low risk" levels according to the North Dakota Department of Health Smart Restart map. At postseason games, L/E/M has limited tickets available and required masks for those in attendance.
"We, as a school and a football program, have gone above and beyond up to this point," Krivarchka said. "They know the reality of what could happen, and sometimes there's no way to prevent it, but they are taking every precaution possible. We just have to do all that and do everything in our power to keep the virus away from our football team."
A time has not been announced for the semifinal game on Nov. 7. L/E/M will host the game at Langdon regardless of its opponent.