They are one win away from their ultimate goal and are ready for the challenge ahead.
The third-ranked Muskie football team is set to clash with the fourth-place Churchill Bulldogs in the WHSFL’s CanadInns Bowl this Saturday in Winnipeg after downing the second-ranked Maples Marauders 28-22 in the Currie Division (‘A’) semifinals last Thursday.
Fort High routed the Bulldogs 66-19 in the two sides’ only meeting of the regular season in its home-opener back on Sept. 27, where Muskie quarterback Brady Meeks was a beast in setting new single game Currie Division records in both passing yards (349) and touchdowns thrown (six).
But it’s the playoffs and anything can happen, as evidenced by the Bulldogs’ upset 28-14 win over the previously undefeated top-ranked Springfield Collegiate Sabres in the other semifinal last Thursday.
The championship game is set for 4 p.m. at Investors Group Field this Saturday (the home of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers) and the Muskies are ready to do whatever it takes to bring the title home.
“Look at Springfield, they probably thought ‘We beat everybody, even if we’re short a few people we’re not gonna lose to these guys’ and it just goes to show ya . . . I guess it’s not how you start the year, it’s how you finish it,” said Muskie co-coach Vic Davis.
“What other adage could I say? You gotta beat the best to be the best. Well, that’s kinda what we were gonna say if we were playing Springfield but now it’s like the other way around.
“So, we gotta make sure the kids treat the Bulldogs like they’re not just gonna go out there and [have it] be a cakewalk,” he stressed.
“Really, when it comes down to it, they don’t have anything to lose, they already had the biggest win of their season whereas if we lose . . . the pressure is on us now,” he conceded.
“They have no pressure. They could be going in loose as they beat the best team. That’s the highlight of their season but we’re hoping our highlight hasn’t ended yet and we hope [the season] ends on a high note on Saturday.
The Muskies were tasked with a great playoff struggle against the Marauders last Thursday at East Side Eagles Field, holding firm on defence late to secure the win.
The conditions were cold, but the fire inside the Muskies propelled them to a crucial victory as they exacted revenge against a Maples squad who had beaten them 29-6 back on Oct. 23 in the regular season-finale.
“I don’t know if it was so much revenge, but it felt good,” Davis said of the Muskies’ win over Maples last Thursday.
“It was quite the game, both teams wanted to win and that’s what it looked like. I’m glad we came out on top.”
Davis felt like his squad was much more prepared for Thursday’s encounter than they were in the first game against Maples, which paid huge dividends in advancing to the championship.
“Maples, they were just as strong as ever and the boys fought,” he lauded.
“Especially in that last four minutes. The fans who were there, the spectators that were watching watched some crazy football in that time because it could have went either way.
“The boys dug deep when they had to and made some big plays on some key third downs and ended up getting a touchdown there to put us ahead,” he praised.
“We made an incredible goal-line stand at the end to win, so they definitely wanted to win and they deserved it. Us coaches, we were very proud of them. It was a very exciting, satisfying victory.”
Davis lauded the play of both his offence and defence in the win, specifically the standout performances from Sean Huziak and Brady Bodnarchuk.
“You know, Sean Huziak he runs hard and had a really good game and [we had] good blocking from all of our running backs,” he enthused.
“Like Gabe Hyatt and Kael Archie, they helped make some holes through the line who did fantastic. I thought they did, overall, pretty good besides a few little mistakes.
“But overall they got themselves some running room and offensively, Brady Meeks of course, he gave everything he had and the receivers made the catches when they had to,” he recalled.
“On the [defensive] side, they bent a little bit but they didn’t break too often, they did what we had to have them do to win. Brady Bodnarchuk made a couple of big plays, he had an interception to stop one of the Maples drives and then on the goal-line stand, he was in on the tackle there to help prevent the winning touchdown from getting in,” Davis lauded.
“I should mention him because he had a really strong defensive game.”