DSC_1636.jpeg

Litchfield senior Tyson Michels picks up big yards on a second half reception during the Dragons' game against New London-Spicer last week.

The out-of-the-ordinary 2020 season took another turn for the Litchfield High School football team.

The Dragons will play their final game of the season against Rockford at 5 p.m. Friday at Litchfield High School football field. The game will be for the Section 2AAA championship.

Originally, the Dragons were scheduled to meet Dassel-Cokato in the section semifinals Saturday afternoon. But when Gov. Tim Walz announced a four-week "pause" in high school sports beginning at 11:59 p.m. Friday in response to rising COVID-19 cases throughout the state, Section 2AAA officials decided to have the two highest remaining seeds play for the section championship Friday evening.

“It’s not easy and it’s not fair, but it’s a sacrifice that we need to make," Walz said during an address televised statewide Wednesdasy evening. "If we don’t do that and we continue to spread, we will with absolute certainty put our hospitals at risk and those that need the care as well as the care providers.”

Walz's executive action calls for football and volleyball seasons to end Friday, and for winter sports to be delayed. Practices were previously scheduled to begin on Nov. 23 (boys basketball, boys hockey), Nov. 30 (boys swimming, wrestling, girls hockey) and Dec. 7 (gymnastics, girls basketball). The order also extends to club and youth sports.

The rising COVID-19 case numbers already had played a role in Litchfield's football season before Wednesday. The Dragons finished the season 5-1 and earned the top seed for the section playoffs, where they were originally to meet No. 8 seed Belle Plaine on Tuesday night. However, Minnesota Department of Health shut down Belle Plaine's season after an outbreak there, which gave Litchfield a first-round playoff bye.

Now, the semifinals have been scrapped, and the Dragons will advance straight to the title game.