Makeshift team of referees save Grand Rapids-Duluth East football game

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Assistant coaches for both teams, and even a color radio commentator, donned the stripes to make sure the Thunderhawks-Greyhounds game was played.

DULUTH, Minn. – It was the whole scene Friday night at Ordean Stadium as the Duluth East football team hosted Grand Rapids. The match was scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m., but after that time there were no officials for the match due to an oversight by the assignor. So the two programs got together and started making phone calls.

After receiving no response and the delay lengthening, the assistant coaches of each team donned the stripes and entered the field. Even the color Thunderhawks radio commentator had to get involved, which helped the game start just before 7 p.m.

“It was weird. I don’t think it really set in until half-time. The first half I was kind of on autopilot. It’s been a few years since I refereed a game. I looked at the scoreboard and by that point it was 20-19. It was a close game and I really went kind of, it’s kinda wild, “said the Grand Rapids radio commentator Jesse Powell.

Those who volunteered all agreed that it was a no-brainer to help and make sure the game was played for players and fans alike.

“It’s a big game for both of us. It was the return home for us. The stands were packed. We couldn’t delay this game any longer. We had to have the game that night so it was important for our players. It was important for their players. We had to do whatever it took to make this game played, ”said Duluth East assistant coach Luke Hietala.

Grand Rapids won 56-28. The game also served as a reminder that there is always a need for more referees in the region. If you want to get certified, contact the Minnesota State High School League.


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