Diesel return home looking for win

05/24/02 Kearney Cyber Hub
Tri-City coach Leland Skeen likens the Diesel's up and down journey through the NIFL to a rollercoaster ride — Sometimes exciting, sometimes sickening.

"We played well against Omaha and we felt like we were on top of the hill," Skeen said. "Then we played poorly against Rapid City in almost every aspect of the game. … About the only positive was that we didn't allow a special teams touchdown.

"We went from the highest high to the lowest low."

The Diesel's next opportunity to get back on track is Friday's game versus Sioux Falls. The Storm enter the game with a 6-3 record, including a 48-34 win over Tri-City in Week 7.

Skeen realizes that Sioux Falls is a talented foe, but that's not his biggest concern. Wondering which Diesel team will show up on Friday is what is keeping him awake at night.

"We just have to get more consistent, that's the bottom line," Skeen said. "And that goes for offense, defense, and special teams.

"This league is even tougher to predict than a Sunday in the NFL. You just don't know what is going happen."

A win is what needs to happen if Tri-City wants to stay in the NIFL playoff race.

There are two ways to make the playoffs — win your division or earn a wildcard based on overall record.

But the Diesel's 3-6 record is not going to catch the fleeting attention of the notorious wildcard fairy, and Skeen knows it.

"Our overall record is out the door and flying high," Skeen said laughing. "But our division is still up for grabs. … That is our only shot of making the playoffs."

 Of Tri-City's three wins, two have come against divisional opponents. The Diesel rank fourth in a division of five teams, but only two games separate them from division leading Sioux City Bandits.

Tri-City's final four games are all against divisional opponents, including a June 29 date with Sioux City.

"If we win out our last four divisional games we will be sitting pretty good," Skeen said. "We need some other teams to get beat around, but that could easily happen."

The Diesel have already suffered their fair share of beatings. Quarterback Justin Coleman is playing with a cast on his left arm, and starting center Jesse Burke is questionable for Friday's game with a back injury.

Starting wide receiver Jermaine Brooks is beginning to recover from a high ankle sprain, but will not be a full strength against the Storm.

The Diesel's secondary has also sported a pair of shiners all season. Tri-City has been burned time and again with long passes and broken coverages.

"We need to play more aggressively on defense," Skeen said. "We have our zone techniques down, but we need to have our heads on a swivel and find a man.

"If we blow a coverage, then fine. The guy is going to be wide open. But I don't want to see anybody sitting wide open in the soft spot of a zone. I would rather have the defensive backs take a few more risks."

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