Thunder football earns No. 5 state rankingThey’re in first place in their division. They are coming off their first shutout in school history. They’re the fifth-ranked community college football team in Minnesota. But for Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, that’s just the beginning, according to Coach Keith Turner.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
They’re in first place in their division. They are coming off their first shutout in school history. They’re the fifth-ranked community college football team in Minnesota.
But for Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, that’s just the beginning, according to Coach Keith Turner.
“You can tell confidence is high at practice,” Turner said. “Our kids know they can beat anybody but they aren’t cocky. They know they have to work every day.”
The Thunder are coming off a 17-0 whitewash of Northland last Saturday at Bromberg Field, on a day that saw freshman back Victor Griffin vault into the MCAC rushing lead with 156 yards rushing on 34 carries.
His 6-yard second-quarter touchdown gave the Thunder a lead it wouldn’t lose, and Jordan Myles’ 10-yard score with nine minutes to play was simply icing on the cake.
“Victor has been great,” Turner said. “He’s one of the best running backs I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach. He’s humble and so coachable.”
The Northland game was a complete effort by the Thunder.
“We couldn’t ask for better,” Turner said. “The defense played fast, the special teams played well and we didn’t turn the ball over. We played good, sound football.”
Yet Griffin is now the fulcrum of the Thunder’s offense. His 632 yards rushing leads the MCAC’s Northern Division by 242 yards and leads the entire league by 104 yards over Central Lakes’ Beau Bellmore.
“He’s a strider,” Turner said of his 6-2, 195-pound back. “But he’s dropped the shoulder a few times on guys and that’s surprised people because he looks so lean. But he makes tacklers miss too.”
Having an elite back gives the Thunder the ability to run and control the clock.
“Last year when we tried to run the ball we sometimes couldn’t, even when we committed to it,” Turner said. “We’d have a breakdown or somebody would get hurt. But now we’ve got Victor, Antonio Marshall and Jordan Myles, and that’s a help.”
Turner is also impressed with his team’s line play.
“If you don’t have anybody up front, I don’t care how talented you are,” Turner said, “if you have people in your face when you get the ball you won’t gain anything.”
Turner noted that the season’s starting center, true freshman Cardan Perkins, has switched positions with sophomore Aaron Bevington of Duluth Central, who started the season at guard.
“Cardan got a concussion and the two switched,” Turner said. “We have had great play from both.”
Now the Thunder face perhaps their toughest test yet – the state’s top-ranked team, Ridgewater – away from home. The teams tangle at 6 p.m. Saturday in Willmar.
“Our kids are excited,” Turner said. “Ridgewater is a top 20 team nationally and our players are preparing like they’re playing for a championship now. They didn’t understand how you had to practice week-in and week-out and now they are doing that.
“They have two really good running backs and they have a fullback who’s a beast,” Turner said. “We have to wrap them up and tackle. If there aren’t a lot of turnovers, I look for a low-scoring game and, since we both run the ball, we might be done quickly.”