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Loyal ends odd 2020 season with loss at Pepin/Alma

Loyal’s 2020 football season didn’t end the way coach Chris Lindner and the team had hoped, but then again, nothing about the 2020 season went as planned. The Greyhounds endured numerous lineup changes through the season due to COVID-19 concerns, two games were cancelled, and something new arose almost daily.

Loyal lost at Pepin-Alma 30-0 on Nov. 19 in the WIAA’s coronavirus-shortened 2-game playoff format, ending the Greyhound season with a 3-4 overall record. Loyal could not generate any kind of offensive flow against a talented Pepin-Alma squad, and the high school careers ended for a large group of seniors.

Loyal was outgained 395-94 in total yardage as Pepin/ Alma scored two second-period touchdowns and two more in the third quarter. Senior running back Matthew Szymanski managed 84 yards on 21 carries in his final game for Loyal.

Lindner said his team was again without multiple starters for various reasons. A team that started the season with 11 seniors was down to only five by season’s end, and the coach said it was difficult to have so many reserves thrust into starting roles against a good team.

“They’re a solid team,” Lindner said of Pepin/ Alma. “Probably quicker than we thought, probably a little bigger than we thought. We had a lot of younger players playing.”

As it was for every other football team this fall, 2020 was a wild year in Loyal. As if COVID-19 concerns weren’t enough, the Greyhounds had to deal with other scenarios that never allowed them to feel comfortable.

“It has been a crazy season,” Lindner said. “We had so much inconsistency due to quarantines and sickness. It was just an inconsistent lineup all year. There were a lot of different scenarios these guys went through. It was so one day to the next.”

Lindner said he is appreciative that this group at least had a season, as several seniors were 4-year players and deserved to be on the field in whatever circumstances were possible.

“They got to play their senior year. They got seven games. They got a chance to play,” the coach said. “I was proud of our seniors that went through the whole year. They did a nice job the whole four years they were here.”