Take away the first half and the Muskie ‘A’ football team held their own against the International Falls Broncos in exhibition action over there Friday night.
In fact, if not for a late touchdown being called back on a procedure penalty, the Muskies actually would have outscored the Broncos in the second half.
Unfortunately, the Broncos had jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 49-12 victory. But on the bright side, the Muskies held the Falls scoreless in the third quarter while scoring both of their touchdowns.
“Our effort was excellent,” said Muskie head coach Bob Swing. “What we didn’t want was people lining up in the wrong spot, not knowing what they were doing, and that’s exactly what we did in the first half.
“We were disappointed because we weren’t mentally sharp but that’s why it’s our first game,” he added. “We’ll iron these kinks out and get ready for our first season game.”
The Muskies kick off their inaugural season in the Winnipeg High School Football League this Friday at 3:30 p.m. on home turf against the Kelvin Clippers.
The Clippers finished fifth in the WHSFL last year.
Against the Falls, the Muskies found themselves behind the eight-ball early when Bronco running back Jerry Lindstrom scampered 70 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
He added another nine-yard run to give the Broncos a 14-0 with barely four minutes gone in the first quarter.
“I think we set the tempo early with the long run and that got us in the right direction,” noted Bronco head coach Timm Ringhofer. “We needed that. We caught them in some bad formations a couple of times and got lucky.”
Bronco running back Ross Johnson scored early in the second-quarter with a fourth-and-goal touchdown catch, then pivot Josh Harris plunged into the end zone on a quarterback sneak moments later.
Lindstrom added a five-yard touchdown run late in the first half.
Muskie wide receiver Adam McTavish gave the group of about 40 Muskie fans something to cheer about in the second half.
First, he used a sharp slant pattern to peel himself loose of his defender and catch a pretty pass from quarterback Andrew George up the middle and was off to the races to put the Muskies on the scoreboard.
Their two-point conversion attempt failed, making the score 35-6.
McTavish then caught a George pass near the sidelines and galloped 40 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-12 (the Muskies also failed on that two-point conversion).
“McTavish is a heck of a ball player. He’s got a lot of speed and they got by us a couple of times,” said Ringhofer. “We’ve got a young secondary and he made us pay the price a couple of times.”
But that was as close as the black-and-gold would get. Lindstrom added two more rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter to finish the game with five.
The 18-year-old senior ran for 327 yards–compared to 163 total offence by the rest of his team–to eclipse a 22-year-old school record of 306 yards. He added one interception for good measure.
Standout senior fullback Chad Kuffenkam was injured after the first quarter and only ran for 45 yards.
McTavish’s two big plays were his only catches in the game, good for 116 yards. He also missed a 46-yard field goal try on the final play.
George, in his first game as starting quarterback, went five for 12 and also ran for 10 yards. He had two other chances to hit McTavish and Brad Wakefield in the open but overthrew both attempts by about a foot.
“I think in the second half we played a pretty clean half of football,” noted Swing. “Andrew played pretty well for his first start with us so I’m happy with that.”
But Swing added their run defence ultimately is something they’ll have to work on as they prepare for their inaugural WHSFL season.
“Not a whole lot is going to change for the rest of the year. We’re going to play teams that will power run against us,” he noted.
“Technically speaking, we better tackle below the waist or we are going to be in trouble against them because we’re going to [face] backs that are better than Lindstrom and he is a good back.”
Muskie running back Jock Gemmell had a quiet night out of the backfield. The OAC student ran for 27 yards to go with a 26-yard reception and two interceptions on defence.
Swing said running back Scott Witherspoon opted not to rejoin the team this year.
Ringhofer, who was an assistant to longtime coach Stuart Nordquist before taking over the reins this season, said the Muskies were very competitive this time around.
“We didn’t know what they would have as far as kids coming back from last year so it was kind of new to us what they were going to show us,” he said.
“They gave a good run. I wished Bob good luck against those Winnipeg teams. I’m sure they’ll have a solid year,” he added.
•Friday, Sept 7–Muskies vs. Kelvin Clippers, 3:30 p.m.
•Friday, Sept. 14–Muskies @ Oak Park Raiders, 4 p.m.
•Friday, Sept. 21–Muskies @ Grant Park Pirates, 4 p.m.
•Friday, Sept 28–Muskies @ River East Kodiaks
•Friday Oct. 5. Muskies vs. Churchill Bulldogs (Homecom-ing), 3:30 p.m.
•Friday Oct. 12 Muskies vs. Sisler Spartans, 3:30 p.m.
•Friday, Oct. 19–cross-conference game (opponent and time to be decided)
•Saturday Oct. 27– WHSFL Quarterfinals, TBA
•Friday, Nov. 3– WHSFL Semi-finals, TBA
•Saturday, Nov. 10–Avanet Cup (WHSFL Championship), 2 p.m. (Winnipeg Stadium)
(home games only)
•Thursday Sept. 27, 4:30 pm. @ Falls Broncos; and
•Thursday Oct. 11 4:30 p.m. vs. Warroad