If one was to compare rosters it should have been a mismatch. But it turned out to be far from it.
Vermilion listed 64 players on its roster for Saturday's non-conference game against Central Lakes College, which lists just 38. The Ironmen have only nine Minnesotans on the roster compared to the Raiders' 31.
The Ironmen, favorites in the Northern Division, were attempting to rebound from a 19-15 loss last weekend to Southern Division favorite Rochester. But Vermilion struggled to beat the Raiders, who drew compliments from Ironmen coach Keith Turner.
"We came out flat," Turner said. "Rochester is our big rival. Our kids thought since these guys have only 20 or 30 guys that we could come out and dominate them.
"(CLC) came ready to play. They're a heck of a team. They're not deep but they've got some players over there. You can't take anybody lightly."
Turner said Vermilion's goal is to win the state championship.
"We have 28 sophomores, nine returning sophomores on defense," he said. "We're looking at doing something."
The loss was disheartening for the Raiders who with a few breaks easily could be 3-0 instead of 1-2. After an opening 27-20 win over Mesabi the Raiders were edged 12-7 by Hibbing last week.
"Rochester hasn't lost a game since 1996 in our conference," Raiders coach Mike Degen said. "(Vermilion) played them to a 19-15 ballgame. We're right there too, like last week. We've got to make things happen and get into the end zone."
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