Night Train doesn't have time for excuses

04/01/02 La Crosse Tribune
John Schimon hates excuses. In his mind, wins are wins, losses are losses. Right now his team has zero wins, two losses. That's really all that needs to be said. It's just the way he sees it.

Those who'd never met the La Crosse Night Train coach before his team's first-ever home game Friday at the La Crosse Center may have been a little surprised he wasn't looking for silver linings. After all, his team was competitive in only the second game in franchise history.

Before a fourth-quarter fallout and a final score that reached 41-21, the Night Train were down by just a touchdown nearing the fourth quarter. His quarterback, Colby Vogt, had an injured arm. His running back, Doby Howard, had just returned from the injured reserve list.

A majority of La Crosse's opponent, the Lincoln Capitols, had played together under coach Jose Jefferson last season in arenafootball2 as the Lincoln Lightning. So Jefferson's bunch - armed with former University of Nebraska running back Damon Benning - hardly could be considered a National Indoor Football League expansion team.

The opportunity for excuses, even explanations, certainly was there.

Schimon wouldn't bite.

"We made dumb mistakes," he said.

He was specifically referring to the on-side kick that Lincoln recovered midway through the third quarter that caught his players off guard.

He could just as easily been talking about four field goal attempts by Jason Young. One was blocked, the other three were missed, though two of the misses were from 60 and 57 yards - indoor football's version of a punt.

But then again, he could have been talking about his team's eight penalties for 24 yards, or the fumbled snap on his team's first possession.

"It's just stupid mistakes that we need to clean up," Schimon said.

The less subtle mistakes came in the form of three interceptions by Vogt, one of which was deflected in the first quarter, and another that bounced off a wide receiver into the arms of a defender.

Those are all mistakes the team would like to reduce, if not eliminate, by Sunday's home game against Sioux City.

"We all have to practice more," receiver Ryan Hubbard said. "I think as the season goes on, (Vogt will) get better and we'll get better."

For now, Vogt is worried about physically getting better, after he was speared in the back in the second half. Schimon said that his starting quarterback was still sore Sunday, and his status for the Sioux City game was still questionable.

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