Tri-City Diesel to face unfamiliar foe

03/16/02 Kearney Cyberhub

KEARNEY — The Tri-City Diesel really don't know what to expect in tonight's (Saturday) season-opening game with the La Crosse Night Train.

That's because the Night Train have never played a game in the National Indoor Football League.

However, the expansion squad from La Crosse, Wisc. is a division opponent and the Diesel know they can't afford to go easy on the new kids on the block.

"You have to win your home games — that's the bottom line in this league," Tri-City coach Leland Skeen said. "It's a big game for us, especially since they are in our division. Our division is easily the toughest in the NIFL."

Skeen said the Diesel would neutralize their lack of knowledge, and film, of the Night Train by stressing execution and mental sharpness.

"That is how we are preparing for it," he said. "We feel comfortable with what we want to do. We have really stressed cutting down on mental errors this season.

"We are really ready to play a game to see where we are at. It wasn't like that last year."

One thing the Diesel are aware of heading into the 7:35 p.m. kick off is La Crosse quarterback Colby Vogt.

Vogt, who has played in the Arena Football League and AF2, knows a thing or two about indoor football. He was a one-time backup to St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner as a member of the Iowa Barnstormers and has played in Austria and Germany.

"He is going to be somebody we have to respect," Skeen said. "It's not like he's never played this game before."

But the Night Train, even with Vogt under center, are expected to experience some growing pains in their first game, and Skeen said the Diesel aim to take full advantage of any mishaps that happen to bounce their way.

The Night Train will have just their fourth practice of the season at the Tri-City Arena only hours before the game. To make matters worse, La Crosse will be without its starting fullback, tailback and receiver due to preseason injuries.

"We just don't want to beat ourselves," Skeen said. "If someone is going to take us down, we want it to be because they are better team than we are on that day.

"We want to attack the weaknesses of the defense, and we'll do that by throwing a lot of underneath stuff. We want them to come up on us, and then we'll look for the second window."


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