The referee roster was full in Flandreau Wednesday night. But on the first playoff game of the season, the officiating team was still missing a friend. Their loss was signified by a missing color.
“We're going without the referee wearing the white hat,” game official Ed Fiegen said.
The white hat is usually worn by the head referee but the officiating crew was without its long-time crew chief.
“He loved to hunt, loved to fish. He was an all-around sports guy,” official Tim Dockendorf said.
Less than two weeks ago, 49-year-old Lorin Larsen died in a hunting accident near Hurley, South Dakota. It happened shortly after Larsen stood on Flandreau’s field, officiating what would be his final game. It was an unexpected end for the crew, some of whom worked with him on the gridiron for more than 20 years; it makes it hard not to think about their friend.
“I'm not going to lie to you, I do think of him. I mean especially last week, the first game; it was different,” Dockendorf said.
“I've known Lorin since high school. So besides losing a refereeing partner, I lost a very good friend,” Fiegen said.
You often think of only two teams on this field. But Wednesday night the third team’s hurt was symbolized by a missing color paying tribute to a missing friend.
“We'd like to finish out this year in honor of him without a white hat. We understand it's a tough thing, but we have to move on as does everyone else,” Dockendorf said.
The refs asked for special permission from the South Dakota High School Activities Association to wear black hats through the end of this season.
Larsen was also a long-time South Dakota Broadcaster and was a past chairman of the South Dakota Broadcasters Association.