Makeshift Referee Crew Saves Grand Rapids-Duluth East Football Game

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

DULUTH, Minn. – It was quite the scene Friday night at Ordean Stadium as the Duluth East football team hosted Grand Rapids. The game was slated for a 6 p.m. kick-off, nut once that time rolled around, there were no officials for the game due to an oversight by the assigner. So both programs got together and started making some phone calls.

After not getting any response and the delay getting longer, assistant coaches from each team put on the stripes and got on the field. Even the Thunderhawks radio color commentator had to get involved, which helped the game start just before 7 p.m.

“It was weird. I don’t think it really settled in until halftime. The first half I was sort of on auto-pilot. It’s been a few years since I’ve reffed a football game. I looked up at the scoreboard and at that time, it was 20-19. It was a close game and I really sort of went this is kind of wild,” said Grand Rapids radio commentator Jesse Powell.

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

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

Grand Rapids went on to win 56-28. The game also served as a reminder that there’s always a need for more referees in the area. If you’d like to get certified, contact the Minnesota State High School League.

Categories: High School, Sports