Change of scenery: Cavalier Football team prepares for 11-man football this fall

Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 10:26 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Despite a long way from the Dust Bowl, just south of the Canadian border, the Cavalier Tornadoes have whipped and stirred up trouble for opponent 9-man football teams for decades, including four-straight state title game appearances.

But this season presents a new challenge: a full slate of two extra guys on the field.

“It’s a little bit different, but I think it’s gone fairly smooth so far,” Tornado senior wide receiver Zach Anderson said.

“I don’t know, I don’t think it’s that bad, I feel like everybody’s transitioning well, it’s all gonna work out I think and it’ll be alright,” Tornado senior guard Ethan Longtine said.

This confidence stems from a couple of early 11-man contests last season, where Cavalier swept away Northern Cass and Turtle Mountain by a combined score of 88-6.

“I mean, I always tell the boys that it’s still blocking and tackling, it’s still football. There’s just a little bit less room on the field now, we don’t have the wide-open spaces that 9-man has, so it’s gonna be a little more of grind-it-out, gritty type of football for us.” Head Coach Jonathan Laxdal said. “We just wanna play, we wanna compete, give it our best efforts.”

Coach Laxdal earned the promotion from assistant to head coach in the off-season, sparking a familiar but different leadership to kids adjusting to a familiar but different game.

“Kinda excited to see what they decide to do with it,” Coach Laxdal said. “They’re gonna own it, they’re gonna make it theirs a little bit, but I think they understand that the bar’s high for a reason because that’s where we wanna be.”

“I’m pretty excited about it, he’s a great guy, really smart,” Longtine said. “It’ll be good to have him as head coach, and I think it’s gonna work out well.”

The Tornadoes will be jumping right into region play for their first game at the 11-Man level. They’ll play on the road against Park River Area to open the season in a Class A Region 2 contest.