Night Train look for a Vogt of confidence

04/05/02 La Crosse Tribune
Colby Vogt needs to see the look. He can't wait for the look. A bunch of looks, actually.

You know ... the look.

It's like Mel Gibson in "Braveheart," when a handful of Scottish fellas show up at this clearing, staring at the massive English army, certain death, or worse, nasty backaches from hours of sword fighting.

And just when the battle is about to begin, the Scots start realizing that some cool face paint probably won't be enough against actual armor. Then a couple guys in the back start worrying they'll miss the 5:30 p.m. "SportsCenter" if this battle takes too long, and another remembers he promised to mow the lawn, and before long everybody's thinking freedom might be overrated anyway.

So when it seems like the movie might wrap up after 45 minutes and miss out on all the Oscar nominations, William Wallace rides up on his horse in even cooler face paint and gives his big speech.

That's when they all get the look.

You know, the goofy smile, the head nod, like they know something their opponent doesn't. The feeling inside that says, 'Now that I think about it, with William Wallace leading us into battle, we're invincible. If he says we can do this, then nothing can stop us.'

It's like John Belushi screaming at his discouraged frat buddies in "Animal House."

"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor! No!"

Sure, they were confused at first, but eventually, they got the look. They triumphed in the end.

In a way, it's the same with Colby Vogt, the La Crosse Night Train quarterback.

Vogt is not getting the look from his army. Not yet.

It's more of a 'please-keep-us-in-this-game-and-give-us-a-chance-to-win,' sort of thing happening in Vogt's huddle.

The first game, he threw seven interceptions. The Night Train were massacred.

Last weekend, at the La Crosse Center, he threw three. They got closer.

There is hope. At his core, Vogt has always been a warrior. He has always loved football.

After he left Winona State in 1994, they told him he wasn't tall enough to play anymore. He wasn't fast enough. His arm wasn't strong enough. Mostly, they were right. It's hard to give up crazy dreams.

He was treated like a hero in a European league for two seasons, backed-up Kurt Warner with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena League, played in the Indoor Football League in Mankato, Minn. Last year he signed an XFL contract, but that fell through and he bounced between indoor teams for one frustrating season.

That's when Colby Vogt's dream started to fade.

"I got burnt out with all the moving," he said. "That's when it became more work than fun."

He decided to settle down for good, take a 'real job' in St. Paul, Minn.

"I guess I'm getting older now," he said.

This team is probably Vogt's last chance to be a quarterback. He doesn't want to move anymore.

"That doesn't mean my desire to win has changed," he said without hesitation.

He isn't just playing out one last season for kicks. He wants this team to win. He wants the Night Train to win, to be a success. He wouldn't mind playing a few seasons in La Crosse.

That where the look comes in. Vogt knows about it. He's seen it before. It makes average players good. Good players great. It could turn this season around. He knows it.

"I saw it the other night," he said. "When we started getting on a roll. I could see it in the huddle."

But Vogt couldn't finish. The offense faltered and even though it wasn't a blowout, 0-2 is 0-2. Night Train coach John Schimon is looking, too. Perhaps looking in another direction.

He is trying something new for Sunday's home game against Sioux City. Running back Doby Howard will take a few snaps at quarterback. He's a scrambler. It might catch the defense off guard.

"Colby's still upbeat," Schimon said. "He's a team player. He understands why."

But Schimon hasn't given up on his quarterback. He'd love it if Vogt came riding in on that horse, rallied the troops, charged into battle like a wild-man, kilt blowing in the wind, touchdowns flying onto the scoreboard.

"He just needs to have that break-out game and win the team's confidence," Schimon said.

And if he doesn't?
"I've got to," Vogt said. "If I do that, they will rally around me."

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