It is time ... to play football!Keith Turner takes over as head coach at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College this fall and as his team opens practice this week, he promises a wide-open game on both sides of the ball.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
If you like seeing football played with the ball in the air, chances are you’ll like Keith Turner.
Turner takes over as head coach at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College this fall and as his team opens practice this week, he promises a wide-open game on both sides of the ball.
“We’re going to be wide open offensively and we’re going to throw the ball all over the place,” Turner said. “Don’t be surprised if you see 65 to 70 throws a game from us.”
Turner spent the last four seasons as the offensive coordinator for UW-Stevens Point, and 16 years prior to that he coached at Vermilion Community College.
“We had a lot of talent there,” Turner said of his time with the Pointers. “We were near the top of the league in offense and we put the ball in the air a lot there too.”
Stevens Point was 28-12 during Turner’s tenure as offensive coordinator.
Now, Turner will welcome 41 players – but only a few holdovers from last season’s team – to the start of pre-season drills.
“Our kids are excited about playing and being part of the football program here,” he said. “Most of them are new to the college.”
Some of those players are from local programs. AlBrook has the most players on the team with four, including quarterback Cody Anderson, linebacker David Hjelle, running back Michael Treasure and defensive lineman Damondtaye Gaines.
Cromwell has two players – linebacker Tyler Burggraff and defensive back John Schliauter. Barnum linebacker Kyle Grimm is on the team, as is Moose Lake running back Nicholas Kenemore.
Cloquet lineman David Leal, at 6-foot-7 and 315 pounds, is the team’s biggest player.
Yet most of them are in their first year.
“To be successful, I always tried to carry 15-20 kids over from year to year when I was at Vermilion,” Turner said. “You need a core of kids who have played before and understand the philosophy.”
One of those philosophies is discipline.
“Installing a system is easier with discipline,” Turner said. “Some people say young kids aren’t disciplined but part of the issue is that we as leaders aren’t willing to make them toe the line. It is a grind on you and on them, but if you do it long enough, it pays.”
Key to that philosophy are Turner’s assistants. David Wilson of Cloquet will be the defensive coordinator while Turner will handle the offense himself. Other local coaches include offensive line coach Kevin Szczyrbak (Moose Lake), linebackers coach Tim Myles (Floodwood) and volunteer coaches Bryan Burns of Barnum and Davalance DePoe of Cloquet.
Defensively, Turner expects his Thunder team to be as wild and crazy as his offense.
“We’re going to get after people and smack you in the mouth,” he said. “We’re going to send people from all over the place. We are going to use our speed and athleticism to get after people.”
While the team is young in terms of college experience, Turner is excited about his talent pool.
“It reminds me of Central Wisconsin and Vermilion. You know what you will get,” he said. “You will get kids who will work their butts off and do everything to be successful. I love the talent we have here locally.”
But in the end, Turner said the season will come down to one factor.
“It’s a simple philosophy,” he said. “We will hold the players accountable and the coaches accountable and myself accountable.”
2010 FDLTCC Football Schedule
Saturday, Aug. 28 – at Central Lakes College, St. Cloud (8 p.m.)
Saturday, Sept. 4 – Minnesota State/Fergus Falls at Bromberg Field, Cloquet (4 p.m.)
Saturday, Sept. 11 – at Minnesota West, Worthington (3 p.m.)
Saturday, Sept. 18 – Rochester Technical and Community College at Public Schools Stadium, Duluth (1:30 p.m.)
Thursday, Sept. 23 – at Itasca Community College, Coleraine (7:00 p.m.)
Saturday, Oct. 2 – Northland Community and Technical College at Bromberg Field, Cloquet (1:30 p.m.)
Saturday, Oct. 9 – at Ridgewater Community College, Willmar (5 p.m.)
Fri. Oct. 15 – Mesabi Range Technical and Community College at Public Schools Stadium, Duluth (7