Muskie ‘B’ squad loses season-opener

It wasn’t a dazzling debut, but the Muskie ‘B’ football squad left their coaches with a favourable impression on opening day.
While at first blush the 22-0 score in favour of the visiting Warroad Warriors yesterday wasn’t overly complimentary to the Muskies, head coach Lou Gauthier wasn’t short on praise for his Grade 9-10 players.
“I thought we played pretty good for the first game of the year,” said Gauthier about his squad, which coincidentally lost by 22 points here to Warroad for the secondstraight year (28-6 in 2002).
“We’ve got lots of rookies on defence and the offence made a few mistakes, but that’s to be expected,” he added.
After a scoreless first quarter, Warriors’ halfback Stephen Anderson went to work for the green-and-white visitors. The speedster busted free for a 58-yard touchdown run early in the second, only to have it nullified by a Warroad holding penalty.
Undeterred, he came back the next series and popped off a 30- yard run on a second-and-20 play, then chalked up a 14-yard gain down to the Muskies’ six-yard-line.
One play later, Anderson powered his way through the left side of the line and found the end zone.
Warroad made it 8-0 when Alex Orgon was credited with catching quarterback Kurt Weston’s floating pass on the two-point conversion, although it was questionable whether he receiver had full possession of the ball.
On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Anderson churned down the sideline for a 32-yard pickup. Then on first-and-goal from the Muskies’ six, Issiah Hruby took the hand-off from Weston and plunged up the middle.
The running back fumbled just before the goal line, but in a stroke of bad luck for the home side, the ball bounced into the end zone and was covered by Orgon for the major.
The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 14-0.
Later in the third, Hruby got another chance to hit paydirt on a second-and-goal from the Muskies’ four. This time, he kept a death grip on the pigskin, and hammered his way up the middle for the touchdown.
Anderson scooted in around the right side for the two-point conversion to close the scoring.
The black-and-gold’s offence, which struggled to find its rhythm for most of the together, pieced together a solid drive on its final possession with less than two minutes to go.
Quarterback Joel Herbert and Terry Carmody, who was switched to receiver after starting at running back in his first-ever high school game, hooked up for a pair of long gains.
Another 49-yard play was called back due to the Muskies having an illegal man downfield.
But the shutout was sealed when Kyle Borah picked off Herbert at the Warroad 32 with 1.1 seconds on the clock.
“We were trying to set up the plays that we pulled off in the fourth quarter all game,” said Muskies’ offensive co-ordinator Shane Beckett. “But in the third quarter, we just didn’t see the ball [only three offensive plays total for Fort Frances].
“The guys showed us today who really wants to play,” Beckett added. “Joel [Herbert] is a really smart kid who understands the game. He went four-for-four down the stretch, and took control of things on both sides of the ball.
“And [running back] Jordan York, guys would hit him and he’d keep going. It took three or four guys to bring him down every time,” Beckett added.
On defence, Gauthier lauded the play of lineman D.J. Howells, who caused havoc in the Warriors’ backfield on several occasions and even forced a fumble by Weston and then recovered it himself in the second quarter.
“He’s got good potential, if he can just keep from getting hurt,” said Gauthier, referring to an ankle injury Howells suffered that kept him out of part of the second quarter.
“He’s one of my returning vets.
I’ve got a lot of expectations for my Grade 10 players, and he’s living up to them,” Gauthier added. “He showed more spunk out there than all of last year.”^Gauthier is confident the Muskies are headed in the right direction. And he won’t have to wait long to judge their progress as the “Bees” host the Roseau Rams this Tuesday (Sept. 9) at 4:30 p.m.
“All we ask is 100 percent effort,” said Gauthier. “Mistakes will happen, but we can fix those.”^The Muskie ‘C’ team will start its 2003 squad against the visiting Baudette Bears this Monday (Sept.
8) at 4:30 p.m.