Diesel hoping to pass road test

04/13/02 Kearney Cyberhub
KEARNEY — Tri-City Diesel coach Leland Skeen didn't use the term "must-win" when describing the importance of tonight's (Saturday) game versus the Wyoming Cavalry.

But Skeen did admit the game has taken on more meaning than he originally thought it would when the NIFL schedule was released in early March.

"We definitely got to have this one," Skeen said. "If we could take five turnovers out of the Billings game we would have gotten a win at home.

"But unfortunately that's not how it happened. … That probably makes this game bigger than it should have been."

The game, which kicks off at 7 p.m., is crucial to the Diesel for several reasons, including:

n The Cavalry are 0-3. Road wins are few and far between in the NIFL and this might be the best chance the Diesel have to pick one up in the first half of the season.

n The Diesel play a brutal schedule. Tri-City heads to 4-0 Sioux Falls next weekend, and only the most optimistic Diesel fan can expect to come away with a road win versus the Storm.

To make matters worse, the Diesel has to play Omaha again in less than a month and Lincoln twice in a four-week span. The Beef beat Tri-City 37-20 in the team's first meeting, and the Capitols whipped Omaha 51-31. Add in a pair of home-and-home series against Sioux City and Rapid City, and it's easy to see that wins will not be easy come by in the final 12 weeks of the season.

n The Diesel play in a tough division. It's only three weeks into the season, but Tri-City already has to crane its neck to spot Omaha, Lincoln, and Sioux City in the Pacific North standings.

Although the Cavalry are winless, Skeen said the Diesel would have to improve upon its play in order to be successful.

"They just haven't jelled yet," Skeen said of the Cavalry. "And they have had a tough schedule to this point. They are not a bad team, by any means. It should be an evenly matched game as far as talent goes."

The Cavalry feature some familiar faces, including former University of Nebraska at Kearney quarterback Matt Strand.

Strand started his college career at UNK as a redshirt freshman, but transferred to Chadron State before taking a snap for the Lopers.

Fellow Chadron State standout Anthony Simmons joins Strand in the starting lineup and figures to play a big role as the Cavalry's primary running threat.

"There is a little rivalry between the UNK players and the Chadron State players," Skeen said.

However, Skeen is more concerned with execution than he is with past collegiate rivalries. And when it comes to execution, it all starts with quarterback Justin Coleman, who is making his second start for the Diesel.

"We have had slow starts in the last two games," Skeen said. "Justin basically only had two solid practices coming into the Billings game.

"I think he is starting to get the system down — and we have changed a few things to benefit his style. I think he is only going to get better as the year goes on."

Coleman completed 16 of 33 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns in the Diesel's loss to Billings.

Coleman's 33 pass attempts nearly equaled the amount the Diesel threw in its first two games. Skeen said he liked to scale the number of pass attempts down a bit against Wyoming.

"We need to balance it out a little bit more," he said. "We are still going to pass quite a bit, but we need to throw more run in than we did in the last game to keep the linebackers honest."


  © 2001, 2002 National Indoor Football League. NIFL, National Indoor Football League, and the NIFL logo design are registered trademarks of the National Indoor Football League. The team names, logos and uniform designs are registered trademarks of the teams indicated. No portion of this site may be reproduced without the express written permission of the National Indoor Football League The National Indoor Football League take no responsibility for third-party material appearing in any bulletin board or chat sections of this site. All rights reserved.
Privacy & legal information