Solid ‘D’ fuels Muskie win
Kevin Ebron’s parting memory of this neck of the woods will consist of being part of a triple-decker sandwich—courtesy of the Muskies’ tenacious defence.
The Daniel McIntyre Maroons’ quarterback scrambled for his life on the final play of the game but was unable to avoid being crushed by three Fort High rushers that gave the Muskies an 11-7 win in WHSFL action here Friday afternoon.
“[The Maroons] couldn’t move the ball on us other than one play,” noted Canfield, whose team caused four turnovers and also had three sacks.
“Their defence was no slouch, either.”
Braden Webb set the tone early for the Muskie defence, intercepting Ebron on the second offensive play of the game.
The Muskies’ veteran safety was all-world in this contest, accounting for all four Muskie takeaways with three picks and a fumble recovery on a Maroons’ punt return.
“[Webb’s] a ball hawk,” raved Canfield. “He has great football instincts, and can see where the ball is going and cut in front.
“He’s the quarterback of our defence.”
After a scoreless first quarter, new Muskie kicker Cameron Lidkea made good on his first career field goal attempt—a 21-yarder that put the home side up 3-0.
“He just came out last week even though I didn’t think we’d be taking on any new players,” said Canfield.
“But we didn’t really kick well the first week.
“When we saw what he could do in practice, it was a no-brainer,” Canfield added.
The Maroons struck back with 4:14 to play in the second.
Ebron’s double pump caused Muskie cornerback Adrian Whitehead to hesitate for a second, which was all Daniel Sousa needed to get behind him and reel in a long pass before romping to the end zone for a 67-yard score.
“[Whitehead] was disappointed but you make mistakes out there,” declared Canfield.
“He bounced back well, though.”
A week after torching the St. John’s Tigers for 279 yards on the ground, the Muskies’ running attack ran into a wall in the form of a stout Maroons’ defensive line in the first half, garnering minus-six yards on five carries.
Running back Dougie deBernardeaux—coming off a 155-yard, three-touchdown performance in Week 1—only carried for twice for seven yards in the opening two quarters.
“It wasn’t the game plan to not give Dougie the ball,” noted Canfield. “But they must have seen in the film that I like rushing to the wide side too much and they had too many guys waiting for us.”
Canfield decided at halftime to abandon his conventional approach and aim his running formations towards the short side of the field.
It looked like a stroke of coaching genius on the first play after the Muskies took the second-half kick-off.
With a sudden burst of speed, deBernardeaux (15 carries for 103 yards) found a seam and took off down the right sideline for a 65-yard touchdown and a 9-7 lead, which stayed that way after Lidkea’s point-after attempt was blocked.
The black-and-gold’s defence took over at that point, as they hurried Ebron into what turned out to be a lacklustre 8-for-30 passing effort for 125 yards, which wasn’t helped by multiple drops on the part of his receivers.
Daniel McIntyre also was victimized by an officiating miscue later in the third quarter. A fumble by deBernardeaux was scooped up at the Maroon’s 28 by Sousa, who looked to be away to the races.
But an inadvertent whistle by one of the officials nullified the runback—despite Sousa’s emphatic protests.
With 9:42 left in the fourth, Muskie punter Ben Whitburn made a heroic effort to escape the Daniel McIntyre rush to the outside and managed to boot the ball 49 yards into the end zone.
Ishaka Jordan tried returning the punt but was tackled in the end zone for a single point and a 10-7 lead for Fort High.
“I’m not happy with our punting team . . . too many times we almost got blocked,” noted Canfield.
“We have to fix that,” he stressed. “There are some miscommunications about people’s responsibilities.”
A roughing the kicker penalty—one of 10 Muskie infractions for 85 yards in the game—extended the Maroons’ next possession.
But Sousa’s 36-yard field goal attempt went wide left and was run out to the Fort 17 by Webb to preserve the three-point lead.
It would not be Webb’s last important play, by far.
With 1:44 to go, he stepped in front of Ebron’s pass and returned it to the Muskie 47.
The black-and-gold offence stalled, but Whitburn launched another moonshot for a 47-yard single that pushed the lead to four and forced the Maroons to have to go for a touchdown instead of a game-tying field goal.
That mission quickly died when Webb’s pass on the first play of the drive was nabbed by Webb for the interception hat trick with 1:08 left.
The Muskies used good clock management to leave Daniel McIntyre with just under six seconds to do anything after Whitburn’s successful out-of-bounds punt put the ball at the Maroons’ 29.
Ebron looked to make a desperation pass but never got the chance as Brett Mann, Dallas Gervais, and Aaron McDowell chased him down and drove him to the turf—much to the delight of the raucous hometown fans who jammed the bleachers or took up viewing spots close to one sideline.
Fort High will gun for three-straight wins this Friday in their annual Homecoming game at 2 p.m. (note the earlier start time).
The St. Norbert Celtics (2-0) will provide the opposition, led by head coach and former Muskie Adrian Huntley.
The Celtics beat College Lorette Collegiate Scorpion 16-12 on Friday to join the Muskies and the West Kildonan Wolverines (2-0) at the top of the Andy Currie Division (‘A’) of the WHSFL.
“[Huntley’s] a smart guy . . . I suspect he’ll do his homework on us,” warned Canfield.