Keep a brave face

The 0-6 Muskies have found almost every which way to lose this year.
They’ve been blown out (42-0 to Oak Park and 32-7 to St. Paul’s) and they’ve barely missed (21-17 to Grant Park last Friday).
They’ve been burned by one-man gangs (three touchdowns by Kenora running back Derek Schelske and two by St. Paul offensive lineman Matt Scharer) and by whole defensive units (a pre-season shutout by International Falls, the Oak Park shutout, and just two points—on a conceded safety—allowed by Kenora).
They’ve given up the big play (85-yard kickoff return by Grant Park), and they’ve shot themselves in the foot (a swing pass fumble returned for a touchdown by Churchill High).
They’ve been outscored 189-40, including the pre-season. They have found the end zone just five times in six games.
Yet, with all these gloomy numbers, there’s another digit that symbolizes this team more. That number is one.
As in one group, fighting for one cause, no matter the score.
It would be easy to hang heads and go through the motions at this point of the season. Instead, the Muskies continue to rally behind each other.
The offence cheers on the defence. The defence barks out support for the offence. Players leaving the field who made a good play are swamped with congratulations.
Those down on themselves when leaving after making a mistake are instantly boosted back up by their helmeted brothers-in-arms.
They should be broken by now, but Fort Frances’ spirit and confidence remains intact—so much so that head coach Bob Swing delivers the impression his team is salivating to battle the seemingly unbeatable top-ranked Oak Park Raiders in the WHSFL quarter-finals.
Bring on the big dogs, say the Muskies. We’ve got a bone to pick with them—and we’re not going to run and hide under the porch.
A win over the Sisler Spartans at Winnipeg Stadium this Friday would lock up the eighth-and-final playoff berth. A loss may still get them in, if fellow 0-6 league mate Kelvin High School also loses this week.
And, as everybody knows, the playoffs means everyone starts from scratch.
Some are anointing what they see as the inevitable champions already. The sportscaster on the CBC Winnipeg local news stated unequivocally last Friday evening that “it looks like there’s only two teams in the Winnipeg high school league this year—Oak Park and St. Paul’s.”
But the games aren’t won on paper. Just ask the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, who had their unbeaten record spoiled Sunday by an 0-5 St. Louis team starting a third-string quarterback.
In sports, anything is truly possible, and shocks are a frequent occurrence. Something tells me the Muskies have a few surprises left in their bag of tricks—if they get a chance to use them in the playoffs.
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The Mount Allison Mounties waited a full year for revenge. The St. Mary’s Huskies couldn’t have cared less.
Former Muskies Gary Wager, Chad Canfield, and Jock Gemmell, along with ex-Fort Frances coach Scott Fawcett who now leads the Mounties, had nothing to give thanks for in a 69-3 annihilation at the hands of the Huskies.
A 105-0 slaughter in last year’s match-up had Mount Allison champing at the bit to face their conquerors again.
Mark this one down in the category of being careful what you wish for—because you just might get it.
• • •
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