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Vermilion edges FDLTCC in playoffs

One week after beating Vermilion in the last game of its regular season, the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College football team turned right around and played them again in the first round of the MCAC playoffs.

And, to hear Coach Keith Turner describe it, it didn't go well.

"We laid an egg on offense," Turner said after the Thunder's 30-27 loss which ended their season with a 3-6 record.

"We came out and the defense played really well, but we laid an egg on offense," he said. "We completed a 60-yard pass and then we fumbled on the 1-yard line on the next play, and they recovered in the end zone."

Still, the Thunder led 21-16 at half before a second mistake put them behind again.

"We get the ball after the kickoff and we're going in for a score and we throw a pick six (interception for a touchdown)," Turner said. "So we go back ahead and they get the ball back and work the clock down to where we can't get the ball back and score to beat us 30-27."

Turner said the team played well enough defensively to win the game, but the team was not mentally prepared.

"I honestly believed some of our kids thought [Vermilion was] just going to lay down," Turner said. "After the game I told them it was my fault for not having them mentally prepared to play this game."

That was the manly thing to say, since coaches don't make plays, but Turner did admit the players' focus was off.

"We try to get across to them that every game and every possession is precious," he said. "We had three missed opportunities to score and win the game and we lost by three points."

The season ends with a 3-6 record after an off-season of expectation.

"When I look at the season I think we as a team never figured out how to be consistent," Turner said. "We could never string together a 10- to 12-play drive without something bad happening and our kids going 'here we go again.' Defensively we would get a team inside its 10-yard line and think we had them, and we'd let them out."

That said, Turner said there are 35 freshmen planning to return next year who will remember the feeling of the playoff game.

"Last year our kids played every play like it was their last play," he said. "We have had teams with less talent but a desire to play hard. This year we didn't have kids quit but they haven't yet got the mindset of last year's team. They have to learn that nothing is given to you. You have to work for everything you get."