Muskies still alive in ‘Bowl’ hunt


The Muskie football team is getting another crack at the St. Norbert Celtics.
And this time, a berth in the WHSFL Bowl final is at stake.
When the two teams clashed during the regular season back on Oct. 13, the host Celtics came away with a 36-14 victory.
Fort High is eager to avenge that defeat when the squads square off again tomorrow (Nov. 2) at 4 p.m. in Winnipeg in the WHSFL Bowl semi-finals.
“We are looking forward to this matchup,” Muskie head coach Mike Cuzzolino said in an e-mailed response to the Times.
“We wanted to play St. Norbert’s again,” he noted. “We outscored them 14-6 in the second half of that game [Oct. 13] and if you take away our turnovers, it’s nearly a tied game.”
Cuzzolino said the Celtics are a good, well-coached team by former Muskie Adrian Huntley.
“We always enjoy playing them,” he remarked. “It will be a great competitive game [but] hopefully a different outcome.”
Like the Muskies, the Celtics also have struggled with low player numbers this season.
“They haven’t practised 12-on-12 once this year, either,” Cuzzolino noted.
“They have low numbers also so this is the battle of the ‘Davids.'”
The Muskies advanced to the semi-finals after being awarded a win by default over the Maples Marauders when their first-round playoff showdown, scheduled for here last Thursday afternoon, had to be cancelled due to inclement weather.
The decision was made by a playoff committee and several factors were considered, including the fact the Muskies had a better regular-season record (2-5 versus 0-7) and one of Fort High’s two wins was against the Marauders.
Cuzzolino felt not playing last week helped the team going into tomorrow’s game against St. Norbert, which had a first-round bye after going 4-3 during the regular season.
“With having around 10-12 players walk out on the team over the last few weeks, the remaining 21 players have had to step up and play more and pick up the slack,” he explained.
“These kids have been working tirelessly to compete and they needed a few days off like this to recover and get healthy.
“I think having an extra couple days off will be good for us,” he said.
Meanwhile, don’t expect to see wholesale changes on the Muskies’ part compared to the first time they faced the Celtics.
“Our game plan will only be slightly different,” Cuzzolino said. “Take care of the football, win the turnover battle.
“We have a team loaded with heart,” he noted. “They can achieve whatever they want.
“Hard work and heart beats talent every time,” Cuzzolino reasoned. “And that’s what we are: a hard-working team with heart.”
What the Muskies will need to improve on tomorrow if they hope to beat the Celtics is better success in the red zone.
Cuzzolino conceded the team has to avoid making mental errors once inside their opponent’s 20-yard line.
“Red zone is where we need to be our absolute best,” he stressed. “That’s where we need to shine.
“We will be much better down there this week” he vowed.
The plus side for the Muskies is on the injury front.
“We managed to get a few players healthy and we’re going to be our healthiest in a few weeks,” Cuzzolino noted.
“We are capable of winning this game and competing for a WHSFL Bowl championship.”
The other semi-final later tomorrow will feature the West Kildonan Wolverines against the Churchill Bulldogs.
The Wolverines (4-3) had a first-round bye while the Bulldogs (1-6) advanced after a 34-18 upset win over the Tec Voc Hornets (2-5) last week.
The bottom six teams in the Andy Currie Division (‘A’), including the Muskies, qualified for the WHSFL Bowl.
The other 24 teams in the WHSFL were divided into three other playoff series: the Anavets Bowl, the CanadInn Bowl, and the CTV Bowl.