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FDLTCC Thunder rolling towards second season

A year ago Tony DeLeon, the head coach of the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College football team, was busy trying to put together a football program. Now, in their second season, things are coming together efficiently and smoothly.

"We are optimistic that we are heading in the right direction," commented DeLeon. "We have established this program to offer an opportunity to young men committed to their education and who recognize the privilege of representing the college, community, and themselves."

Among key players returning will be Taylor Hanson from Esko who had an outstanding year last season as a freshman.

"He has great size and quickness off the ball and his dedication to the weight room has [turned] a mild-mannered all-American boy into a force on the field," mentioned DeLeon. "Taylor always smiles even when he's picking up the quarterback off the ground."

Both Jasmon Watkins and Antoine Shelton return to the secondary and linebacker positions, giving the Thunder a pair of players with experience. Watkins is a speedy defensive back and Shelton patrols the middle at linebacker.

Look for Dusty Hjelle and Dominick Schmitz to return and have an impact on the defensive line and outside linebacker respectively, while Kyle Voltzke is another player who should be strong in his second season.

Former Esko quarterback Kyle Hall will be solid at that position with a strong arm and a good knowledge of the game, but watch for Terry Thomas to challenge for the starting role.

Keith Lofgren, another former Esko player, has transferred from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and will play a pivotal role at wide receiver.

"Lofgren should take the league by storm with his smooth routes and soft hands," remarked DeLeon. "We have improved our speed tremendously from last season due to Kris Adams, the former track star from Barnum, along with Steve Lykes, Marcus Young and Marshall Little."

Adams was among the fastest sprinters in the state this past spring and he should bring an element of danger every time he touches the ball.

"Running the ball should also fall in the hands of All-State running back Jesse Trimble of Coon Rapids, Minn.," commented DeLeon. "You can also look for Jayguan Gandy to be a strong and quick back."

Fans of the Thunder will recognize the name of Barnum's Kyle Grimm as well. Grimm is a strong linebacker and should fight for a starting role, and he could be an impact player right from the get-go.

Ronald Sellers and Von Clompton also will be asked to contribute in a big way. According to DeLeon, the team has improved on defense with size, speed and strength.

"Athletically we should be fine, but what has been more enjoyable has been the attitude and cohesiveness of the team," explained DeLeon. "Talent means nothing to me. It is all about attitude."

The Thunder will open on the road in St. Cloud, Minn., at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 29, against Central Lakes, the state runner-up in community college ball last season. The first home game for the Thunder will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, versus Fergus Falls at Rol Bromberg Field in Cloquet.