Muskies set to face Broncos

The Muskie football team knows they have their work cut out for them when they cross the border Friday night to face the International Falls Broncos in their annual exhibition showdown.
But the game is anything but a write-off.
“I firmly believe if we play our style of game, we will be hard to beat,” Muskie head coach Bob Swing said after a team practice Monday evening.
Swing said that style of play is characterized by tight defence and effective special teams, which should give the offence a chance to capitalize on good field position.
This philosophy led the black-and-gold to a 4-3 record last year in their inaugural season in the Winnipeg High School Football League before being eliminated in the quarter-finals to the Churchill Bulldogs.
They enter their second WHSFL season ranked second behind three-time defending champion Oak Park.
Of course, that ranking means nothing the moment they step between the lines at Bronco Stadium this Friday.
It seems that every year at this time, the Falls beats up on their Canadian gridiron cousins. But you can bet the memory of last season’s 49-12 loss at the hands of the Broncos is still fresh in Swing’s mind—as well as many of the returning Muskies.
“They are a pretty good team and we have taken our lumps against them for a couple years,” admitted Swing. “We’re going to have to play good fundamental football against them.
“The longer we can keep it low scoring, the better.
“If we play well and we play discipline, we will give them a run for our their money,” Swing added. “The key is not to blow assignments and turn over the ball.”
At Monday evening’s practice, the Muskie coaching staff put the 55-man roaster through a variety of drills. The sheer number of players available is something Swing points to as the Muskies’ biggest strength.
“I like to think that we are deep,” he remarked. “We have 30 kids that can play on a football field now. We just have to be patient and bring the younger players along.”
For Swing, practice is a chance to work on physical and mental preparation. One of his favourite analogies to illustrate the value of preparation is a striking one.
“If you’re going hunting, you have to make sure you bring a loaded gun,” he told his attentive players during a huddle before practice.
“It just means we gotta be ready to play,” he explained afterwards. “We can’t just talk about it, we just got to do it.”
This disciplined approach is necessary if the Muskies are going to successfully compete in the ‘AA’ division of the WHSFL.
A quick glance at their schedule shows there’s absolutely no downtime. The Muskies will play a seven-game regular season in seven weeks. Add to that daily practices and the intensity of the year becomes apparent.
After their exhibition game Friday at the Falls, their regular-season opener is Friday, Sept. 6 at 3 p.m. at home against the top-ranked Oak Park Raiders.
Other highlights include the annual Homecoming game Oct. 4 at 2 p.m., which will feature the Muskies’ first game against former NorWOSSA rivals Kenora Broncos in two years.
The Muskies also will host River East (Sept. 27) and Grant Park (Oct. 11) to complete a three-game homestand.
Their road schedule includes games versus St. Paul’s (Sept. 13), Churchill High (Sept. 21), and Sisler (Oct. 18).
Swing expects each game to be a battle, stressing no team should be taken lightly.
“The worst team can beat the best team in our conference,” he said. “It’s a very good conference.”
The WHSFL quarter-finals are slated Oct. 24 or Oct. 25, with the semi-finals set for either Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 (at Winnipeg Stadium).
The Anavets Cup (league final) will be held Saturday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. at Winnipeg Stadium.

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