The Four Winds Indians overcome losing important player, playing on Tuesday night to beat the North Border Eagles 30-12.

On this writer’s desk is a calendar with the monthly quote, “Character is not made in a crisis — it’s only exhibited.”

Playing its next to last “home” game in Devils Lake, Four Winds had not only that and a Tuesday night football game to contend with, but it also lost its best player during the proceedings. Still, the Indians found a way to rise above it and beat North Border 30-12 from Roller Field.

“I wasn’t very excited to play a Tuesday night game knowing how big Friday’s game is for us and we lost our best player because of it,” said co-head coach Travis Mertens. “There’s nothing we can do about it because that’s how it was scheduled but all the praise go to those boys out there.

“They could’ve easily packed it up, folded, and said ‘I’m done’ but they didn’t. Everyone who played tonight stepped up. That’s what we needed. That’s what we going to need for Friday.”

The Indians (4-3) got four touchdown passes from sophomore Keldon Keja, the defense forced two turnovers that led to two of the scores and they defeated the Eagles for the second time in 11 days. But all thoughts were focused on Gionni Robertson after the game.

“Yeah big time,” co-head coach Mark Bishop said about how well the defense played Tuesday night. “Our defense stepped up. We lost our best player on both sides of the ball. Our leader in tackles, our leading scorer and everyone stepped up. Guys who normally don’t play, played well.”

With the Indians leading 8-0 after Keja connected with Freddy Redfox from 17 yards out and Robertson punching it in for the two-point conversion, Robertson, playing from his linebacker position, ran down North Border’s running back Dominic Calvillo along the sideline and in making the tackle, rolled onto his arm. Robertson was removed from the field in the ambulance.

“We didn’t have to tell the team anything. They knew from the last minute and half of the second quarter to the 24 minutes of the second half, they were playing for their teammate,” Mertens said.

When play resumed, Four Winds forced consecutive turnover on downs for the Eagles, one to end the first half and one to open the third quarter. On the Indians first possession of the second half, they drove 47 yards on eight plays, capped off by a 5 yard touchdown reception from Keja to Jaeshaun Shaw. Tate Tomahawk caught the two-point attempt that gave the Indians a 16-0 lead and they cruised from there.

“At the beginning of the season, we had two goals. To finish with a winning a record and make the playoffs. And going into this last game, we have a chance to finish 5-3 and if win against Nelson County, we punch our tickets to the playoffs,” said Bishop.

“We’re excited for what we have in front of us. We got work to do, we have to figure some things out but we look forward to our chances on Friday.”

Matt Greendahl caught a 64 yard touchdown pass from Jacob Johnson in the third quarter that pulled North Border (0-8) within 10 but never got closer.

Chris Harris can be reached at charris@devilslakejournal.com and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ