Muskie football squad to hit gridiron next week

Lucas Punkari

It’s been a long-term process with many growing pains, but there are signs on the horizon that the Muskie football program again could be a tough one to beat.
“It’ll be a few years before we get back on track but there are some good signs of recovery,” second-year head coach Chad Canfield said.
“Through the off-season, we’ve had players coming out to workouts, there’s been a lot of interest in football when talking to the Grade 8 classes, and we’re also going to have a lot of the coaches from last year coming back, along with a few new ones,” he noted.
“We’re not going to run the table by any means, but we should be getting a lot stronger as the years go on,” Canfield enthused.
After going winless in 2009, the black-and-gold earned that elusive victory during their second game of the 2010 campaign—a 9-7 triumph over the St. John’s Tigers in Winnipeg.
They were unable to find success again during the rest of the season, however, on their way to a 1-6 record before being turned aside in the quarter-finals by the Dakota Lancers.
“We lost a couple of close games, such as our Homecoming game [against Daniel McIntyre] and our last game of the year with St. Norbert,” Canfield noted.
“I think, as a coaching staff, we grew a little bit, and the team got their feet wet a little bit, so it’ll be nice to start building off of that,” he reasoned.
That building process will resume next Tuesday (May 24) as the Muskies open their spring training camp, which will run at Fort High weeknights from 6-8 p.m. until Friday, June 3.
“We’re really just trying to go out there and have a lot of fun, get some of the new guys involved, and also develop the skills of the players that are coming back from last season,” Canfield explained.
“This will put us in a little bit of a better position when the fall rolls around in regards to what we’re going to be dealing with in terms of each position and what the strengths of each player are, especially with the new faces,” he added.
After spending the first week of camp working on fundamentals, the coaching staff then will focus on the basics of the team playbook during the second week before rounding out activities with an inter-squad scrimmage.
“We were hoping to have Dryden come in and play us, but they had some other things taking place at that time,” Canfield noted.
“[But] I think there should be enough [players], though, for an inter-squad game, so the kids should have a little bit of fun at the end.”
Canfield is hoping to have around 50 players turn out for the spring camp, with the high interest among the incoming Grade 8 players being a key factor in that potential turnout.
“It’s good to see a lot of them having that interest in playing football, and we even have some Grade 7 students that want to come out and practice even though they’ll be ineligible to play next year due to league rules,” he enthused.
“This will be a good opportunity for them [the Grade 8s] to meet the guys that are playing on the team right now, especially when they come into high school this fall, as they will know those guys a little bit and it will help them with their transition process,” he reasoned.
Although the Winnipeg High School Football League mandates that official team practices can’t take place during the summer months, players play flag football games on Sundays during their holidays, which is another way that Canfield can add to his roster before the team reconvenes around the second week of August.
“We usually get a few players out of that, which is nice,” he remarked.
Although the official kick-off of the 2011 season is still months away, Canfield feels the spring camp will be a good building block for the Muskies heading into the upcoming campaign.
“By teaching the fundamentals and having fun, that should probably put us on the right track for the upcoming season,” he said.
“When I meet with the kids, I tell them that I really believe that a lot of the lessons you learn in football, such as teamwork and dedication, can be used in real life.
“If we can get a lot of kids involved and start building that brotherhood, that should be a good start for us heading into the fall,” Canfield added.
If potential players or parents have any questions regarding the Muskie football program, they can call Canfield at 276-2755.