Muskies able to evaluate players despite cancellation

An exhibition game against the Sturgeon Creek Schooners was to be used by the Muskie coaching staff to make player adjustments and see if their systems complimented their players.
But since that exhibition game, which was slated for yesterday, was cancelled on Monday by the Schooners, the Muskies had to do the next best (or only) thing—an intra-squad game that was played yesterday.
“You can never create the game tempo in practice, and that’s a negative, but we’ll still get the evaluation that we need to get,” said head coach Bob Swing this past Tuesday.
The idea of an intra-squad game wouldn’t have been possible last year, as the team hovered at around the 30-35 player mark, but this year has brought changes.
The numbers are up and that’s encouraging for the coaching staff, who have seen good things after two weeks of practices.
“This year we actually have a bunch of athletes and not ballerinas,” says defensive co-ordinator Lou Gauthier, who expects to have around 45 players on the final roster.
And more numbers means more competition for starting positions “and that’s always a good thing,” added Gauthier.
The increase in the roster enables the Muskies to start having “effective practices”, which is being able to have the offense play against the defense, and Swing says they are already ahead of where they were last year.
“I believe we’re a good week ahead from where we were last year,” Swing noted.
The Muskies have been on the field since Aug. 22, which is the earliest the Winnipeg High School League allows their teams to start practicing, and offensice co-odinator, Shane Beckett, has liked what he’s been seeing, especially from the crop of grade nine players.
“What we want from these guys is to show improvement and to show a good work ethic. We’ll never shy away from a kid that gives us 110 percent, so when we ask them to get on the field, we ask them to know their assignment and do his job,” said Beckett.
The black-and-gold’s regular season is slated to start next Friday in Winnipeg against the Miles Mac Buckeyes (their home opener will be against the Schooners on Sept. 16 at 4 p.m.) and though the team still has much to check-off on its “to-do list”—”Scatterbrained, busy, young,” says Swing—things are progressing at an agreeable pace nonetheless.
“It’s always hectic at the beginning to get everyone on the same page, at the same time and at the same spot,” said Swing, “but we’ve got 37 players here and they’re pretty good football players.”