Muskie footballers racked up impressive stats

In a season which saw the Muskie football team finish with an outstanding 4-1 exhibition record, what’s even more impressive is many of the team’s final stats.
On both offence and defence, the black-and-gold were simply outstanding on both offence and defence–especially against their Manitoba counterparts. They were a perfect 4-0 record against those teams while outscoring them 224-64.
That included a 22-14 win in Winnipeg on Sept. 11 over the Oak Park Raiders, who went 6-0 in their own league during the regular season without allowing a point.
The Muskies also recorded back-to-back shutouts over the Sturgeon Creek Schooners (62-0) and Crocus Plains of Brandon (63-0), and then closed out the season with a 25-20 victory over the St. James Rods at Winnipeg Stadium.
The Muskies’ defence, which allowed a paltry 15.3 points per game, had a streak of more than 10 quarters in which they did not allow a single point. They also caused an astonishing 26 turnovers–which led to 69 points.
Chad Canfield led the way with three fumble recoveries, Dana Preston and Mike Glueheisen both had two, and Aaron Caul and Ben Stolz picked up one each. Caul also led the team with four interceptions while Terry LaBelle had three and Sheldon Mose one.
“I think when our guys go out and turn the ball over for our offence, it helped us quite a bit,” defensive co-ordinator Brent DeBenedet said.
“When the kids learn the defensive system and when eight or nine guys are out there making plays when their number is called, it just shows how much of a cohesive unit they are,” he added.
“Everyone got in a piece of the action.”
The Muskie defence also was able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Canfield led the way with four sacks, followed by Glueheisen (three). Chris Matheson, Jesse Rodrigues, and Pete Moen all were next with two.
Still, the Muskies’ strength stemmed from their ability to score points at will led by running back Terry LaBelle, who scored 15 touchdowns and rushed for 1,004 yards on just 87 carries (an average of 11.5 yards per rush).
Preston racked up 298 yards on 50 carries (a six-yard average) while Scott Witherspoon had 16 carries for 168 yards.
As a team, the Muskies rushed the ball 198 times for 1,792 yards (a 9.1-yard average).
Head coach Bob Swing said the club’s offensive success was a direct result of great athleticism and a hard work ethic in practice among his players. He also stressed their ability to “believe” in the team’s system goes a long way in translating into success on the football field.
“You know, when you have a good running game, you can usually attribute it to a good offensive line and we had that,” noted running backs coach Greg Allan. “But we also had running backs with pure athleticism, who were very good athletes, the better athletes on our team.
“And they were very coachable in learning the cuts and the reads,” he added.
While the offence averaged 38 points per game, it could have been even more as five touchdowns were called back due to penalties.
In an offence that was obviously geared for the run, the attack was relatively stable under rookie starting pivot Gary Wager, who finished with 14 completions in 37 attempts for 274 yards and four touchdowns.
His favourite target was Doug LaBelle, who caught five passes for an even 100 yards and three majors. Other top Muskie receivers included Terry LaBelle (three catches for 68 yards) and Preston (three grabs for 35 yards).
Gary Wagner and Dan Booth also had touchdown catches this season.