Muskie footballers lose to Schooners

The Muskie defence forced the Sturgeon Creek Schooners to cough up the ball six times here Friday afternoon in their home-opener of the young Winnipeg High School Football League season.
Unfortunately, the Muskie offence couldn’t capitalize, turning the ball over five times at critical junctures as the black-and-gold lost 6-0 to fall to 0-2 in the Andy Currie Division (formerly the ‘A’ Division).
“It just seemed that they had me figured out, or it wasn’t us making the block or it wasn’t us making the catch or whatever it was,” said second-year Muskie offensive co-ordinator Shane Beckett.
“It’s frustrating when you have one side of your team kicking the snot out of the other team, and we’re not responding on the other side of the ball—it’s tough,” Beckett added.
The Muskies seemed primed to snap their seven-game WHSFL losing streak stretching back to last September—and had plenty of opportunities.
But a miscue in the secondary (one of their few) near the end of the first half saw Schooner quarterback Yoti Panagopoulos complete a 40-yard pass that put the visitors at the Muskie eight-yard line.
They scored on the next play with a rush up the middle, then missed the convert attempt due to a bad snap.
But it proved to be enough as the Schooners’ defence kept Fort High off the scoreboard.
“We felt that if we could get on them early and score early, then we felt we could push them down because both teams last week had bad games,” said Schooners head coach, Brett Watt, a former standout quarterback for the Muskies in the late 1980s.
Alex Wepruk was having a superb day punting the ball and pinning the Schooners’ offence deep, particularly in the third quarter, giving the Muskie offence good field position.
“They [our defence] were great. It was spectacular. They had some little mistakes, though, and the penalties hurt us,” noted Muskie lineman DJ Howells, who is a captain on the team.
In all, the Muskies were flagged 11 times during the game, including five neutral zone infraction penalties due to an effective hard count by Panagopoulos.
But the offence couldn’t get close to the end zone despite the play of running back, Terry Carmody, who wound up with 98 yards on 20 carries as well as 18 more on two pass receptions.
“I think everyone knows what we mean by playing with toughness, desire, and heart. It’s easy to talk about it, but Terry does it,” said Muskie head coach Bob Swing.
“And some of the other guys are starting to understand what we’re talking about now,” he added.
Before about 200 people in the stands on a perfect day for football, the Muskies threatened near the end of the game when Mike Sande hauled in an interception on his own 18-yard line with 1:49 left in the fourth quarter two plays after the Schooners had intercepted a Steve Boileau pass.
Things started out well when Carmody broke loose on a run that took him to the 35-yard marker. But the drive suddenly stalled when Boileau threw another interception.
The game looked to be over when Panagopoulos completed a pass down to the Muskie four-yard line with 51 seconds to go.
But the Schooners fumbled at the goal line, giving the ball back to the Muskies, who advanced 23 yards on two plays before another Boileau pass was picked off to seal the victory.
“It just destroys you because we haven’t won a game in so long,” said Boileau.
But what kind of result do you expect, said Swing, when you aren’t able to make the plays you need in a game in practice.
“We need to start showing up for practices because if you don’t execute it in practice, then you’re not going to get it in a game,” he reasoned.
The Muskies will have four days worth of practice to prepare for the Kenora Broncos, who sit at 1-1 after suffering a 23-0 defeat to Miles Mac on Friday.
It’s been four years since the two teams have collided on the gridiron and Swing is looked forward to hitting the road for the game.
“That’s going to be fun,” he remarked.
“I tell ya, if you want to get in a car and drive up to Kenora and see a good football, then you come to that one,” Swing added.

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