Entering a new era

With several new coaches and a brand new system in place, the Muskie football program will undergo plenty of changes this coming season.
But what the coaching staff hopes won’t change is their ability to win.
Just 25 players from last year’s squad, which compiled an impressive 5-1 record (including several lopsided wins), will suit up when training camp opens Aug. 16 at Westfort.
And 30 more will line up with the senior team for the first time as regulars.
This team will be young–no doubt about it.
But head coach Bob Swing, starting his fourth season at the helm, isn’t too worried about his troops, saying their inexperience is overshadowed by a more pressing characteristic–talent.
Swing did admit several players may have to play both sides of the ball in the early going due to the team’s lack of experience. But he expected once they learn the system, they will become very good football players.
In fact, he said this year’s edition of the black-and-gold is bigger, stronger, and faster than last year’s team.
Defensive co-ordinator Brent DeBenedet also said he’s not too worried about having to field such a young team. Rather, he looks at it as a challenge.
“We really won’t know what we have until we get out there but every year is a challenge and hopefully we’ll have a good season,” he remarked. “The bottom line is that every year is a new experience.”
Off the field, several new coaches also have been added to the mix this coming season in Benji Andrusco (offensive backfield), Jason Kabel (defensive backs), Jim Luchka (linemen), and Todd Calder (quarterbacks).
Yet another new twist, as previously reported in the Times, is that the Muskie program will be split into three teams–A, B, and C–this season.
“Many of those younger players don’t yet have football knowledge and like in any sport, there is no substitute for games. You just can’t have the same intensity than in practice,” said Swing.
“The phys. ed. programs around the district are excellent and the athletes are getting better,” he added.
Swing also noted getting the ‘C’ program off the ground is the culmination of five or six years of hard work.
The Muskies have dominated NorWOSSA under Swing, as well as Manitoba teams in exhibition action. But while they always have trouble with the International Falls Broncos, Swing figured they’ve closed the gap by “leaps and bounds” in recent years.
As such, the Muskies have added a pair of exhibition games against Minnesota teams–Wadena on Sept. 24 and Greenbush on Oct. 15–to go along with their annual tilt with the Falls.
“What you want to do is play the best teams so you can become the best, and so your kids can get the exposure of maybe someday playing for a U.S. college,” reasoned Swing, adding he’s heard of a few ex-Muskies who are playing down there this fall.
“It gives them some exposure to playing against different teams and perhaps they’ll become better football players,” echoed DeBenedet. “It also might get them some exposure to a U.S. college.”
While Swing said the Muskies always will play in the three-team NorWOSSA loop along as long as Kenora and Dryden field teams, he admitted they “gauge themselves” as to how well they do against their U.S. opponents.
“I think we are right on the cusp of being considered a good old American school,” he predicted.