Night Train dominant in season debut

03/19/03 Jason Christopherson

“It was everything the City of LaCrosse hoped for!”—Coach Mike Brown

 Do you remember last week when I wrote the season preview and failed to find out anything about La Crosse Night Train kicker Brett Gordon?   Well, his 49-yard field goal (the longest in La Crosse indoor professional football history) in the first quarter of Friday Night’s 46-21 victory over Sioux City assured Night Train fans that he won’t be forgotten again.

“I can’t put into words how huge that field goal was.  It sent a message to Sioux City right then and there that we could score from anywhere on the field,” coach Mike Brown remarked.  “I think in a lot of ways it made the lead seem bigger than ten points”.

Gordon’s blast more than atoned for a missed extra point on the previous touchdown.  Tawan Temple forced a fumble that was scooped up by Marvin Hooker and run in from 27 yards to make the score 13-6, Night Train.  I had to ask coach what happened on this play because I was too busy watching Defensive Back Freddie Cruz get blasted with a great block from a Sioux City receiver.  “Game film doesn’t lie and we’re getting on him about it,” coach Brown joked.

Let’s get to some awards:

Offensive MVP:  Just-signed Chris Floyd blended in to his new team marvelously and rushed for 59 yards and four touchdowns.  He also caught three passes for 37 yards and had a 30-yard reception called back by penalty as well.  He combined a slashing quickness with power and drive.  Commented Coach Brown:  “For a guy that has played mostly fullback throughout his college and pro career he has a great feel for the tailback position.  He was for sure the offensive MVP of the game.”

Defensive MVP:  Brown and I disagreed a little on this, but he’s got the “Coach” title so I’ll bow to his opinion.  My thought was that Marvin Hooker, who was all over the field and collected ten tackles as well as the fumble for touchdown, might have deserved the award.  But Coach Brown made an excellent point:  “I actually chose Derric Coakley as our MVP.  He had 8 ½ tackles, 4 solo, 2 for a loss, 2 sacks, 4 pressures, and a safety.  I thought he was exceptional.  Everyone in the secondary benefited from consistent pressure by Coakley and the defensive line.”

Play of the Game:  There were so many.   I’ve mentioned a couple already.  In addition, Larry Henderson made an unbelievable touchdown catch over the boards.  Some of Coakley’s hits are still rattling in my ears.  Freddie Cruz’s hit on kick returner Jerry Davis set the tone for the evening.  You know, I think this is a poll question on --you tell me what the play of the game was.

Areas in Need of Improvement Two things.  First off, the sellout crowd of 4,951 was witness to the first ever negative-yardage t-shirt toss.  Yikes.  A professional doesn’t blame the equipment!  Secondly, Johnny Johnson needs to bring his throwaways in the stands down a little.   The one in the second half intended for the person in Section 209, Row B, Seat 11 was just too high and I, I mean, that person could only get a finger on it.

Kidding aside, more good news for La Crosse was that injuries were minor.  Tajuan Taite has a high ankle sprain and Tawan Temple strained his hamstring.  Both should be fine for the next game, which is March 29 against the Tri-City Diesel.

Complete game coverage, including statistics, can be found on both the NIFL and the Night Train home pages.

With the bye week coming, I’m looking for ideas for stories for next week.  Please e-mail me your questions, comments, quibbles, and queries at .

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