Fort High set to face Tec Voc in quarter-finals

After a week of waiting for the rest of the Winnipeg High School Football League to complete their regular-season schedule, the Muskies now have some answers to the puzzle that is the playoffs.
Firstly, and most importantly, they have an opponent—the Tec Voc Hornets.
Astute Muskie fans immediately will wonder how this match-up came to be given the Hornets play a level up in the Kas Vidruk Division. The answer requires a bit of explaining.
The WHSFL playoffs essentially are a numbers game.
The league is composed of three divisions: the John Potter Division, the Kas Vidruk Division, and the Andy Currie Division (where the Muskies competed all season).
Four teams compete in the top division. But since it’s difficult to run a meaningful playoff with only four teams, the WHSFL decided to take the top two teams from the next division down—the Kas Vidruk Division—to round out the field.
The top two squads in the Potter Division earn first-round byes while the third seed plays the sixth seed and the fourth seed competes against the fifth seed.
A semi-final and final then are held to crown the division champs.
With the top two teams in the Kas Vidruk Division making the jump to the Potter Division, only four teams then are left in what had been a six-team division.
So in order to bring the numbers back up to eight teams, the top four teams in the Andy Currie Division are elevated to the league’s middle division.
These four Currie Division teams—of which the Muskies are one—then represent the bottom four seeds in the Vidruk Division playoffs.
The Muskies (4-2-1) finished as the fourth seed in the Currie Division after Sturgeon Creek pulled off an improbable 24-21 win over previously-undefeated Sisler #2 last week to leap-frog into third spot.
The fourth-place finish in the Currie Division makes the Muskies the eighth seed in the Vidruk Division—thus earning them a date with now number-one seed Tec Voc (who actually had finished third in the division during the regular season).
With the question of who the Muskies will be facing answered, the focus now shifts to what the black-and-gold can expect when they step on the field this Friday at 5 p.m. in Winnipeg.
A quick glance at the numbers reveals Tec Voc finished with a 4-3 record, averaging 18.3 points per game while giving up 19.6 points per game.
However, statistics rarely paint the whole picture concerning a team.
Interim Muskie head coach Shane Beckett and the rest of his staff have been studying all the tape of Tec Voc they were able to get their hands on and have a more complete idea of what they can expect from the Hornets.
“The have a horse,” Beckett said. “He [Joe Osiname] led the first two divisions in rushing, he’s one of the leading rushers [in the league], they like to get the ball to him.
“I can’t expect them not to give it to him because he’s the star running back that they have.”
Beckett also said the Hornet coaching staff likes to tighten their offensive formations to draw the opposition’s defence in and then spring Osiname to the outside.
As such, the Muskies will have to be physical, yet disciplined if they are to limit Osiname’s gains.
“Defensively we have to make sure we beat up on the tight end and string the play out to allow our secondary run support guys to make plays,” he said.
The Muskie defence—a unit that gave up a Currie Division-low 70 points in seven games this season—comes into the game relatively healthy, the one notable exception being stand-out corner Mike Sande.
Sande was lost for the rest of the season to a knee injury suffered when he was tackled after intercepting a pass against Oak Park #2 in the team’s regular-season finale.
But while the Muskie coaches wish he was available this week, they are confident those asked to fill in will be able to do the job.
“It’s going to be a loss but we’re deep at DB, real deep at DB,” Beckett remarked.
“Jesse Brunetta, Tyler Huntley—these kids can step up and we can get some of the Grade 10 kids in,” he added. “They’ll slot in so we’re not too concerned.”
Lost in all the talk of the Hornets’ ground attack is the fact the Muskies have a pretty good tailback of their own in Terry Carmody.
The black-and-gold’s leading rusher is coming off a regular-season campaign that saw him post some impressive offensive numbers.
Carmody carried the bulk of the offensive burden for the Muskies this season, rushing the ball 176 times for 1,376 yards and 12 touchdowns.
It’s a trend Muskie fans shouldn’t expect to change any time soon.
“Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke,” Beckett stated of the Muskies’ offensive game plan.
“You just have to create a seam for this kid and he can take it to the house at any point in time,” he added. “We’ve seen that.
“We just need to sustain blocks, know who we’re blocking and hold those blocks for long enough for him to squirt through and then he can do the rest.”
With the Muskie coaches making no secrets about their offensive strategy, the question that immediately comes to mind is—what happens if the Hornets shut Carmody down?
“We know we can throw the ball,” Beckett said. “We’ve got a better passing game then our stats allow us to see.
“We’ll throw the ball if we need to, there’s lots of options for us going into this week.”
That being said, Beckett still is convinced the game will be decided based on which team executes their plays more efficiently.
“It’ll be the battle of the rushing games, I think, and what defence is going to step up and stop it,” he reasoned.