So what do we know about Miles Mac?
“They are very good,” answered Muskie football head coach, Bob Swing.
Added offensive co-ordinator, Shane Beckett: “They are a relatively new program and since they’ve been in the league they’ve had a great squad and had a league MVP a couple of years ago, so you know they’re well coached and obviously play hard.”
The Muskies will be starting their season this Friday afternoon in Winnipeg against the Miles Mac Buckeyes and the black-and-gold go into the game about as blind as rats at an ice rink, as this is the first time the Muskies have ever faced them.
You see, back in mid-June it was decided by the Winnipeg High School Football League to move the Muskies into the Andy Curry Division (formerly known as the ‘A’ division), so the black-and-gold are understandably not sure what to expect from the opposition.
“I don’t know much about them,” Beckett admitted.
So here are some tidbits of information about Miles Mac that may help get the Muskies caught up on a team that went 4-3 last season and is coached by Corey Kpilic:
They scored 137 points (19.5 points per game), while only allowing 82 (11.7 points per game) and were led by Erin Sesak, who notched WHSFL records last year in rushing touchdowns (12), total yards (1,334), and carries (193).
“We’re not walking in and playing the easiest team in the conference,” said Beckett. “It’s going to be a tough battle right off the hop.”
As stated by a WHSFL pre-season preview written by Peter Carlyle-Gordge of the Winnipeg Free Press that was published this past Sunday: “The 2005 Miles Macdonnell Buckeyes enter the season with excitement and anticipation. With key returning players and great new additions there is a lot of strength and balance.”
On defense the Buckeyes are led by Jeremy Laraque, who had four forced fumbles last season, which is a WHSFL record, and two against St. John’s in a game back in October of last season.
And on special teams they are led by Keelan Paul, who blocked two kicks to tie the WHSFL record.
They are good, there’s no doubt about that. And though the Muskies, are unsure of the others, they are sure of themselves—though they will make mistakes at first.
“We’re big and physical, and a mobile team and pretty quick,” says Swing.
“We’re young and with that, we’re not totally convinced that we’re going to be great on assignments in the beginning. We’ll have mental gaps, but we can coach them out of it,” Swing added.
So will the team be an often rushing-seldom throwing team like the Chicago Bears of the late 80s, or the always throwing-sometimes rushing team like the San Francisco 49ers of that same era?
“We have a pretty good horse in Terry Carmody, and I think we’re going to ride that horse a lot this season. Plus we have a big, meaty offensive line,” said Beckett—the offensive line are also all returning players and led by Peter Klyne, who was a member of the under-17 Manitoba team last summer.
“You’ll see a lot of running this year, and just when they think we’re going to run the ball, we’ll pull out and throw it downtown,” he added.
And when they do decide to throw, they will put the ball in the hands of Steven Boileau or Blake Wepruk, who are both capable quarterbacks, and will be competing for the starting spot all season long.
“I’m extremely pleased to know we have two strong and young quarterbacks,” said Swing. “These two guys are going to be very good quarterbacks—they are already very good right now.”
But the Muskies, who went 1-6 last season and lost to the eventual league champion Churchill Bulldogs in the quarterfinals, will enter the matchup against the Buckeyes cold, as their exhibition game against the Sturgeon Creek Schooners, which was scheduled for last Friday, was cancelled.
Every other team in the WHSFL was booked in others games, so the Muskies had to make due with the cards they were dealt and played an intra-squad game last Thursday, which had been originally scheduled for Friday.
The game was used to evaluate players and see how they fit in the systems, and the idea of an intra-squad game is something the Muskies wouldn’t have even been able to think about last year.
Last year’s anemic numbers forced the team to play “iron-man football” while their Winnipeg opponents had close to a 50-man roster, and the influx in numbers is something Swing and the rest of the coaching staff have been ecstatic about.
“I was able to watch my coaches all stand and evaluate and coach their position and not have to participate in the play or have to worry about other things,” said Swing.
And though the intra-squad was an intense affair—“They went hard for well over an hour,” says Swing—it is almost impossible to match practice speed to game speed.
“You can create tempo in practice, but you can never create the urgency—that’s the difference,” said Swing.
Added Beckett: “No matter how hard we played [on Thursday], it’s still your buddy across from you, and it’s a practice and their wearing their practice gear and the clock wasn’t up.”
Not being able to play that exhibition game will definitely hurt the Muskies, but until they step onto the field against the Buckeyes, it won’t be known by how much.
So what do we know about Miles Mac?