A championship was the goal right from Day 1 and it was a job well done for the Muskie football team on Saturday afternoon.
The third-ranked Muskies used a dynamic and electrifying offence to soar to their first-ever WHSFL crown with a spectacular 65-49 win over the fourth-place Churchill Bulldogs in the Currie Division’s (‘A’) Canad Inns Bowl at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.
Fort High capped off a 4-2 record in the regular season by winning all three of its playoff games and the Muskies were elated to finally land that all elusive first title and hoist the championship trophy.
“It feels so good,” enthused Grade 12 quarterback Brady Meeks after the Muskies’ win in the championship game on Saturday.
“I’m so proud. We worked so hard, we were so determined to win this game and we did it! I can’t congratulate my [football] family more.
“We worked so hard for this, we worked so hard at practice this week, we wanted this bad,” he stressed. “And today it showed how bad we wanted it.”
It didn’t take long for the Muskies to flex their offensive muscles as they opened the scoring early in the first quarter.
Running back Sean Huziak punched in a touchdown from 10 yards out to cap off a lengthy drive that featured plenty of great scramble plays by Meeks (the extra point was good).
With time winding down in the frame, the Bulldogs found a way to tie it as quarterback Dallas Reis hooked up with receiver Eli Kramer in the end zone on a 40-yard major to knot it at 7-7 (the extra point was good).
Then early in the second, Meeks found receiver Carson Noga on a 54-yard catch-and-run as the Muskies regained the lead at 14-7 (the extra point was good).
Noga again came up huge for the black-and-gold with 6:22 to go as he intercepted a hurried throw from Reis and ran it 60 yards the other way to the house for a spectacular pick-six that extended it to 21-7 (the extra point was good).
Kramer then came through with an excellent catch which was quickly followed up by a TD run from talented Churchill running back Yves Amane to trim it to 21-14 with 4:13 remaining (the extra point was good).
But not to be outdone, Meeks did what he does best and cut back against the grain and evaded a few tackles for an impressive 31-yard TD run to put the Muskies back ahead by two scores with 2:41 to go in the first half (the extra point was good).
But the Bulldogs found some success on offence with Amane, who was often handed the ball, and he bowled his way off a few Muskies as part of a lengthy scoring run.
Churchill then made good on a two-point conversion to trim it to 28-22.
“He’s a great running back, he’s very shifty, he’s got a lot of speed,” Meeks praised of Amane.
“He took it to the outside a lot and he scored a few long, long touchdowns. We knew going into the game that he was going to be the main focus, their quarterback was also able to throw the ball today, too. We knew going into this game it wasn’t going to be a blowout, we knew it was gonna be a shootout and we fought all the way to the end.”
Then just before halftime, Noga scored his third and final touchdown as he ran in a perfectly executed reverse play from just over 40 yards out.
Meeks connected with Wyatt Richards on a two-point conversion play to put the Muskies firmly ahead 36-22 at halftime.
In the third, Huziak ran in his second major of the day before another two-point convert made it a 22-point game.
A big Malcom Paintin reception led to another TD run for Amane to help the Bulldogs cut the lead to 44-29 with 5:36 to go in the frame.
But Huziak answered that with a TD run of his own to stake the Muskies to a 51-29 cushion after three quarters.
Linebacker Colten Allen then came up with a huge fumble recovery on third down early in the fourth and Huziak made the Bulldogs pay on the ensuing drive as he rambled home his fourth major of the game to make it 58-29.
“I think it was an exciting, fast paced game. It was like a track meet, back and forth,” said Muskie co-coach Vic Davis.
“I was pretty confident our offence could score points, but I was a little surprised they scored that much against us.
“But we managed to win the game and made a lot of people happy,” he enthused.
Refusing to go down without a fight, Churchill struck back with another TD run from Amane followed by a two-point convert to trim it to 58-37.
Meeks then ran in the final scoring major for the Muskies (the extra point was good) before Kramer got one last touchdown for the Bulldogs with 45 seconds left to round out the scoring.
The combined 114 points between the Muskies and Bulldogs also was the most ever scored in a WHSFL championship game.
Huziak was named offensive MVP while Amane was a beast on both sides of the ball to take home the game’s defensive MVP award.
Wyatt Richards, who won the commissioner’s award for his side, and the Muskie defence stepped up when they needed to in recording key stops on third downs en route to snaring their first-ever trophy.
Davis was pleased with how each of Meeks, Huziak, and Noga spurred the Muskies’ offence in the championship win and lauded their efforts.
“On offence they’re the leaders and they’re smart players,” he praised.
“When they’re on the field they just make things happen. Like, a few times with Brady we called some pass plays in and if it breaks down he just scrambles. He just scrambled for that one touchdown and that was just incredible.
“He makes me look pretty good when I call plays because usually good things happen,” Davis chuckled.
“And Sean, he’s just steady. He just wants the ball, you give him the ball and he will get you the yards you need for a first down and he’ll fight for a touchdown,” he stressed.
“They’re an integral part of our offence and for Sean, on our defence as well.”
The Muskies will be losing a number of seniors to graduation next year, including Meeks, which Davis conceded will prove as a challenge next season.
But he views it as a rebuilding process which will allow some of the younger players to step up to fill the void and keep advancing the program.
“Winning brings out the best in everybody, so we’re just gonna try to keep that rolling,” said Davis.
“We are gonna lose a lot of key players and it’s pretty hard to replace a quarterback like Brady Meeks because he’s so dynamic.
“But you know what? We’re going to hope that some of the younger kids can step up,” he noted.
“You know, it might be a learning year next year, kind of like a transition year. But some of the kids, we tried to get as many of them onto the field in the championship game and for those that didn’t we said ‘you know what? Next year you guys are going to be ascending the ladder’.
“So, they’re going to have to step up and take those players’ places and they’re gonna have to perform and try to fill those roles as best they can,” Davis stressed.
“It’s our job to prepare them to do that, so hopefully it’ll be a smooth transition to keeping our momentum going.”