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Cardinals on the defense

LANGDON, N.D.—Langdon-Munich jumped from one win in the 2015 season to a 9-2 record last season, reaching the semifinals of the North Dakota Class A high school football playoffs before being eliminated.

Cardinals coach Josh Krivarchka knows where the key to continued improvement is.

"Our defense has to get better,'' Krivarchka said.

The Cardinals, who have added Edmore to the co-op this season, scored an average of 34.5 points a game last season. But the Cardinals' points-against average was 22.9. They allowed 30 or more points in four games, three of those in the playoffs.

''We know what our offense can do,'' said senior Connor Tetrault, an all-state linebacker last season. "But if you can't stop teams, you won't win. Improving on defense will be the key for us. We have to find people who want to fly around and hit people.''

With a veteran group returning from a 2016 team that was junior-dominated, Krivarchka looks for a stronger, more physical style of play to result in a stingier defense.

"We feel we have some of the best athletes in the state,'' Krivarchka said. "We stressed defense last year. We'll stress it again this year.

"You hope that, with the work they put in during the offseason and their continued physical maturity, we'll get better. They've gotten bigger and stronger.''

Langdon-Edmore-Munich enters the season with 10 returning starters on offense and nine on defense. The addition of Edmore brings additional depth.

"You never know what can happen,'' Krivarchka said. "We exceeded expectations last year. The kids got a taste of what (success) is like. It was a heckuva run for us. And the kids put a lot of time in during the offseason.''

The veterans include all-state quarterback Jacob Delvo (163-of-278 passing for 2,754 yards), all-state receiver Anfernee Economy (71-1,141 receiving) and the versatile backfield combination of Tetrault (515 yards rushing, 32-526 receiving) and all-stater Chase Peebles (982 yards rushing, 39-795 receiving).

"We definitely have some talented athletes on offense,'' Krivarchka said. "Our quarterback is the engine that makes the offense run. Jacob is a special high school quarterback. He can make some great throws.

"And we have several guys around him who are playmakers, who make big plays.''

Expectations have changed from a year ago, when the season ended with a 50-20 loss in the state playoff semifinals to to an Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm team that went on to win the state championship.

"We had a goal of making the playoffs last year and we did a little better than that,'' Tetrault said. "It surprised us a little. But we felt we'd have a good team. A lot of us are seniors now. We had a good year. We want to do better.''

Said Krivarchka: "After what we did last year, the bar is set a little higher.''