On Thursday afternoon, the East Grand Forks Senior High football team gathered and discussed what was likely the end of the 2020 season after Perham had opted not to participate in the revised schedule for the section playoffs.
"I was just devastated for our kids," East Grand Forks coach Ryan Kasowski said. "There were a lot of emotions in the locker room and lots of tears from the seniors, realizing the season was more than likely over."
The Green Wave planned to conduct an intrasquad scrimmage Friday afternoon at practice to close out the year.
Just a few hours after the team meeting in the locker room, however, East Grand Forks' season came back from the dead.
East Grand Forks, a Class AAA member, has scheduled a 4:30 p.m. Friday game at Senior High Field against Polk County West, a Class A co-op between East Grand Forks Sacred Heart and Climax-Fisher.
Polk County West was expecting to play Mahnomen in the section semifinals but Mahnomen notified PCW late Thursday that a COVID-19 issue would require a forfeit.
"(PCW coach Darrin Byklum) and I talked and said let's do what we need to do to get going and tomorrow we're going to go," Kasowski said. "It's great for our community and great for our kids."
Kasowski received the okay for the game at 8 p.m. Thursday.
"I sent it out in a message to parents and kids, and the responses were great," he said.
The late scheduling change added to a roller-coaster of a day, week and season for prep sports in the area.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday executive orders that'll essentially halt the state's high school football and volleyball seasons.
The orders are set to begin Saturday, so many high school football teams spent Thursday rescheduling playoff games from Saturday to Friday.
Many of the section tournaments were at the semifinal round, so some sections decided to play the semifinals as previously scheduled while some decided to flip opponents to allow for the top two seeds and lower two seeds to meet up.
In Minnesota Section 8AAA, of which the Green Wave are a member, the teams decided to flip opponents.
Before the executive orders from Walz, East Grand Forks, the No. 5 seed, won by forfeit over No. 4 Fergus Falls on Tuesday due to a coronavirus issue with Fergus Falls.
That put the Green Wave in the semifinals against No. 1 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton. With the rescheduling of the bracket, though, Pequot Lakes will play at DGF on Friday at 6 p.m.
That would set East Grand Forks up against Perham, which had been scheduled to play Pequot Lakes. However, Perham chose not to play against the Green Wave. A release of the schedule from the Minnesota State High School League clarifies that Perham's opting out isn't COVID-19 related.
The Minnesota high school football season started in early October, more than a month late, after the MSHSL reversed course on a summer decision to push the 2020 season from the fall to the spring.