Thunder football team has one-word goalThe Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College football team opened practice last week to prepare for the season opener Aug. 24 against Minnesota State –Fergus Falls at Bromberg Field.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
That’s the watchword for third-year Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College football coach Keith Turner and the Thunder, who opened practice this week to prepare for the season opener Aug. 24 against Minnesota State –Fergus Falls at Bromberg Field.
Two seasons ago, the team posted the first winning record in the five-year history of the program, finishing 5-4. Last year, the team lost a number of close games to finish a disappointing 3-6.
However, returning experience indicates to Turner that brighter days are ahead.
“I think right now it would be disappointing not to make the playoffs,” Turner said. “I think we had a real great off-season, the kids worked hard, and we have a great nucleus coming back.”
That nucleus starts in the offensive line, where there are four returning second-year players and three starters, and the defensive line, where there are two returning starters and three linemen back.
Turner said the experience he has back in the trenches this year will be a big help.
“Right now we are a little ahead of where we were last year to start,” he said. “Organizationally, we are ahead and you add to that some freshmen who are enthusiastic and ready to go.”
One of those freshmen is linebacker Wyatt Finifrock of Barnum, who Turner said has turned heads in early practices and may earn a starting position.
Another is Floodwood running back Jordan Miles, who could see time at either fullback or running back.
“He came in at 230 pounds and in great shape,” Turner said. “He’s run a 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds.”
There’s a family connection there – Turner coached Miles’ father Tim at Vermilion Community College, and Tim went on to later have short stints with the Browns and Ravens.
“Tim ran a 4.6 40 at 260 pounds, though,” Turner said, laughing.
Quarterback will be a key position for the Thunder this year, with two-year starter Michael Davis departed. AlBrook’s Cody Anderson is expected to take over under center this fall.
“We really like how Cody throws the ball,” Turner said. “We held him out last season and we think he’ll do a great job.”
The team also had a solid off-season.
“[The players] understand what they need to do,” Turner said. “They bought into the spring workouts. They knew they had to continue to work in the summer. You look at us and you see the work has continued.
“The attitude is the best thing,” Turner continued. “The older guys are helping the younger guys. They feel comfortable doing that because they have worked. When you start to worry about that as a player is when you haven’t done anything all summer, but these kids have.”
The schedule is also favorable to the Thunder this year, with the team alternating home and road games with the opener at home. All home games this season will be played at Bromberg Field.
“The schedule is good for the young guys,” Turner said. “They don’t have to be on the road for three or four games in a row. We have the first game at home to get our routine down and our first road game is an overnight trip. The players have to get used to sleeping in a strange bed and getting up the next day ready to play.”
The 2012 season will be a key one for Turner, who established a five-year plan when taking over the program.
“This is our third year,” he said. “It’s cliché, but we need to take that next step. The expectation we have is now not just to win some games, we want to go in and win every game. It doesn’t matter if we play Rochester or a team that hasn’t won a game. Our mentality has to be the same every time we put the pads on. The kids are all-in.”