Gridiron gang gets long-awaited win

Joey Payeur

Sekina Scheibler had just finished running more than a quarter-of-a-mile.
But he wasn’t taking one more step in his post-game interview unless his demands were met.
“If you’re putting my name in the story, I want the name of every one of my offensive linemen in there, too,” insisted the Muskie running back, whose rushed for 309 yards and all six of his team’s touchdowns in a 42-18 victory over the Maples Marauders in the WHSFL Currie Division (‘A’) regular-season opener for both squads Friday in Winnipeg.
“Without them, I’m useless,” he stressed.
“It’s one of the best offensive lines I’ve ever had in front of me,” Scheibler added.
“To be able to run behind them is glorious.”
The quintet of left tackle Wyatt Richards, left guard Jayden Logue, centre Jaykob Ryll, right guard (and younger brother) Aaron Scheibler, and right tackle Rylan McQuaker made like road graders in front of Scheibler all game against the overmatched Marauders.
That stellar ground attack, combined with a punishing defence that made life miserable for much of the day for Maples’ quarterback Brendan Tokarz, translated into the Muskies snapping an 11-game losing streak.
That drought stretched back 706 days, with Fort High last tasting success on Oct. 2, 2015 in a 27-25 Homecoming win over the Daniel McIntyre Maroons.
Scheibler, who carried the ball 19 times for an average of more than 16 yards per rush on Friday, spent much of last year’s 0-7 season sidelined with a foot injury.
But he looked fully healed in scoring on touchdown runs of 80, nine, and one yard in the first half and then 55, 45, and 10 yards in the second.
“This is the greatest feeling ever. I’m still absorbing that winning feeling,” Scheibler grinned.
“‘All in, all the time’ is our motto this year,” he noted.
“You’ve got to execute plays. That’s how you win,” he stressed.
“Last year was our building year. This year, we’re hoping for big things.”
Muskie head coach Mike Cuzzolino was both thrilled and relieved to get the gorilla off the team’s back.
“We were so happy to end the losing streak,” he said. “We felt so happy for the players.
“They worked so hard,” he added. “We have so many rookies, we threw a ton at them, and they responded so well.
“We knew coming in we had potential to win this game and our players really stepped up,” Cuzzolino noted.
“We give a lot of credit to the good group of leaders and veteran players that we have.”
As for Scheibler, who also had seven tackles as a defensive back for the game.
“Sekina hadn’t played in nearly a year. He was vibrating to get out there and play,” Cuzzolino said.
“The sky is the limit with him,” he lauded. “He works so hard and he loves the game, and truly loves being a Muskie and wants the team to be successful.
“He’s really matured and I’m proud, as his coach, to see how far he’s come and how mature he is.
“He will do anything for this team and he was like a caged animal on Friday, and we just let him go.”
An offensive lineman himself in his own playing days, Cuzzolino’s heart warmed to the effort by his warriors in the trenches.
“Offensive line coach Josh Burley has done a great job of instilling pride in this position that most kids don’t want to play,” he noted.
“But again, we have great leadership that also remembers to thank the o-line when they block well.
“They treat them with respect because they realize how important the offensive line play is to a team’s success,” he stressed.
Cuzzolino also liked what he saw from his team’s bend-don’t-break defence that muffled the Marauders for much of the game.
“We wanted to make sure we limited big plays,” he remarked.
“We have good veterans on defence who were very aggressive to their ball carriers.”
Graeme Anderson led the Muskies with 11 tackles and also had an interception in the third quarter.
Sean Huziak added seven tackles (two for losses) and tossed in two sacks of Tokarz.
Grade 10 quarterback Brady Meeks, making his third career start but first as the Muskies’ No. 1 pivot, was just 3-for-10 for 31 yards (all caught by Riley Argue) and one interception.
“I’m very confident in Meeks,” Cuzzolino maintained. “He has a great attitude and he wants to win and see our team get better.
“Our run game was really working for us on Friday so we didn’t need to throw a whole lot,” he noted.
“But I see big things coming from Meeks.”
A much more intimidating challenge arrives this Friday in the Muskies’ home-opener as the always-tough Kenora Broncos rumble into town for a 3 p.m. showdown.
The Broncos have outscored the black-and-gold by a huge 103-28 margin the past two years, including a 58-12 pasting last season in Kenora.
Fort High hasn’t beat the Broncos since 2001 but Cuzzolino welcomes the chance to end another long streak of futility.
“Kenora is a very well-coached team,” he conceded. “[Broncos’ head coach] Chris Penner will have his team prepared and the intensity will be high.
“[But] I think we definitely have a realistic chance of ending this losing streak,” Cuzzolino added.
“As long as our guys come to practice and continue to work hard and try to get better, they can achieve anything.
“Kenora will be a very tough test for us,” he admitted. “But we believe we’re up for the challenge.
“We will get back to practice, fix our mistakes, and be even better this week.”