Night Train hope to get back on track

03/19/02 LaCrosse Tribune
It was not the type of franchise debut that La Crosse Night Train coach John Schimon had envisioned. The National Indoor Football League expansion franchise suffered a 49-19 shellacking at the hands of the Tri-City Diesel on Saturday night.

The Night Train offense? It chugged, chugged and chugged some more. When it got up to steam, an interception would derail any chance at scoring points.

"Our timing was way off on offense. We beat ourselves," Schimon said. "Our pass patterns were there, but we threw three interceptions inside the 5-yard line. One of those they ran back all the way for a touchdown.

"We were disappointed in the game and Colby (Vogt) is disappointed in himself. It is the worst game he has ever had in his life. I am still really high on Colby, but it's up to Colby to show us something, too."

The Night Train, who had just three practices before the game because the league bumped up their season-opener by two weeks, now have two weeks to prepare for their home opener against the Lincoln Capitols. That game is set for 7 p.m. Friday, March 29.

Vogt, who was promoted to the Night Train's starting quarterback after Rickey Foggie was a no-show, completed just 13 of 34 passes for 147 yards. Four of those passes went to former UW-La Crosse standout Ben Antony, who finished with 44 receiving yards. Former University of Minnesota receiver Frank Jackson caught three passes for 61 yards, including a pair of touchdown catches.

"Our receivers looked pretty good and our offensive line held up really well," Schimon said. "I saw some sparks of the team we can be. The defense played pretty well. Michael Griffin (cornerback) was all over the field. He had two picks and almost had a third."

THE GRADE: Schimon said he gave the defense a "B" for its performance against Tri-City, but gave the offense a "D."

"When you throw seven interceptions and score just 18 points, that's not going to get it done," Schimon said.

PLAYER CUTS: Schimon said he will cut two players this week because he intends to sign two defensive ends who previously played for the IFL's Green Bay Bombers.

SEASON TICKETS: Michael Grego, the Night Train's general manager, said the team has sold nearly 1,500 season tickets. One game, the July 6 regular-season finale against the Billings Outlaws, is nearly sold out. The La Crosse Center seats 4,951 for indoor football.

Grego estimated that about 1,500 people were in attendance for Tri-City's season-opener against the Night Train.

TURF: Grego said the new turf for the La Crosse Center has arrived and has been cut to fit. The turf will not go down again until March 27, two days before the season opener.

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