Broncos bust Muskies’ momentum

Joey Payeur

The Kenora Broncos’ ground game left the Muskie football team grounded.
Kenora broke open a close game with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away with a 36-0 shutout in the Muskies’ home-opener Friday afternoon.
Fort High (1-1) came into the game after snapping an 11-game losing skid with a season-opening 42-18 win over the Maples Marauders in Winnipeg the previous week.
It was a different story against the Broncos (2-0), who outgained the Muskies by a commanding margin of 428-77 in total yards, including 388 on the ground, but only led 13-0 after three quarters.
The black-and-gold could not hold back the flood waters forever, though, as Kenora kept churning their way down the field in the fourth quarter to turn the game into a rout.
Kenora won in convincing fashion over the Muskies for the third-straight season, outscoring them 139-28 over that span.
“The biggest difficulty overall was our lack of ability to prepare properly,” said head coach Mike Cuzzolino.
“Kenora didn’t run anything that we weren’t ready for,” he noted.
“But having 40 absences over a week of practice doesn’t allow us to scrimmage properly, put new game plans in, and practice our game plan during the week.
“We have a great group of kids, a really solid core, and those guys want to really turn this program around,” Cuzzolino noted, citing illnesses for the high rate of absenteeism.
“[But] we’re still very young, and a lot of guys are still fresh and really learning the game and what it takes to win.
“We will get there, though,” he vowed. “We will regroup and hopefully get everyone out to practice and get ready to go.
“These guys are figuring out it takes all of us to win games and be successful.”
Kenora held the Muskies to a three-and-out to start the game, then capitalized on a shanked punt by Sean Huziak that put the Broncos on the Muskie 42.
Six plays later, the ball was in the end zone, courtesy of Chase Neufeld taking a toss and darting in from one yard out.
The Muskies appeared to get the momentum right back on their next drive when Sekina Scheibler, the Currie Division offensive player-of-the-week for his efforts against Maples, burst free of several tackles for a 34-yard gain deep into Kenora territory.
But an offside call against receiver Riley Argue nullified the play.
The Broncos quickly latched onto the idea to gang up on Scheibler–and it worked to perfection as the running back gained only 26 yards in the first half and ended up with just 68 for the game.
Enter the Muskie defence, which was in bend-but-don’t-break mode for much of the game led by the tackling of Scheibler, Graham Anderson, and Damon Nyberg, who also had a fumble recovery.
But difficulty wrapping up ball carriers came back to haunt the squad several times, including midway through the second quarter.
Neufeld slipped one tackle, then wriggled free from the grasp of Argue for a 12-yard scoring run that went unconverted to leave the score 13-0.
“We weren’t where we needed to be fundamentally in blocking and tacking,” Cuzzolino admitted.
“Kenora is a well-coached team and they were ready for us.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Neufeld delivered a crippling blow on the first play of the fourth, racing 31 yards to the Muskie 16.
Two plays later, Clark Boucha powered in from nine yards out.
Quarterback Rhett Zurkan then passed to Boucha for the two-point convert to make it 21-0.
On the second play of the Muskies’ next drive, quarterback Brady Meeks tried a long pass that was intercepted by Neufeld near midfield.
Four plays later, on a third-and-10 gamble, Zurkan lofted one to Boucha, who picked it off his shoe tops and rambled into the end zone for a 33-yard scoring play.
Zurkan hit a wide-open Spencer Caruso for the two-point convert and a 29-0 lead.
Neufeld capped the scoring late in the quarter on a 24-yard dash that again saw him shake off multiple would-be tacklers.
The Muskies will look to rebound this Friday at 4 p.m. when they host the West Kildonan Wolverines (1-1) in the second of three-straight home games.
The Wolverines, coming off a 14-7 win Friday over the Churchill Bulldogs, sit in a fourth-place tie in the Currie Division (‘A’) with the Muskies, Tec Voc Hornets, and Kildonan East Reivers.