Muskies still looking for first win

“There is no try—it’s do or do not,” said Muskie football head coach Bob Swing, sounding like Yoda.
Yoda actually said, “Try not. Do or do not, there is no try,” but the message was clear after the Muskies’ 19-4 loss to the host Kenora Broncos on Friday to drop them to 0-3 in the Winnipeg High School Football League.
The game between the two teams that hadn’t played each other since 2000 started in the worst of ways for the Muskies when the kickoff by Henrique Rihas, a Brazilian foreign exchange student at Fort High, was returned for a touchdown by Jed Bureglis, who took 12 seconds to reach the end zone.
And then a high snap on the convert turned into two points for the Broncos after it deflected into the hands of the kicker, who rolled right and scampered in to give the Broncos an 8-0 lead.
But the Muskies calmed down and proceeded to have a few effective drives.
And though they didn’t result in any points, it did show the black-and-gold’s offence was capable of moving the ball, which is something they had not been able to do in their previous two losses to the Miles Mac Buckeyes (50-7) and Sturgeon Creek Schooners (6-0).
The Broncos, who are now 2-1 in the Andy Currie Division, gained a point after a punt, which was surprisingly kicked from the Muskie 22-yard line, went through the end zone on the small field at Beaver Brae High School, which was a definite home-field advantage.
“It will be the worst field we have to play on this year, but both teams have to play on it,” noted Muskie offensive co-ordinator Shane Beckett.
The Muskies would garner two points after the defence, which was doing a superb job in stuffing the Bronco rushing game, forced a safety with 6:53 left in the second quarter.
Then Fort High looked to be in prime position to put more points on the board after Terry Carmody returned a punt 74 yards to the Broncos’ 16-yard line.
But on the next play, quarterback Blake Wepruk was intercepted in the end zone that dashed that hope.
Frustration started to take over for the Muskies after Ben Klyne was hit with a severe 35-yard penalty after punching a Bronco. Kenora capitalized on that prime field position to boot a 32-yard field goal with 5.2 seconds left in the half to give them a 12-2 bulge.
The Muskie defence turned it up in the second half when Steve Boileau had his first of two fumble recoveries, but once again the offence could not convert the opportunity into points.
Both teams then traded punts until Bronco receiver Scott Oullette hauled in a pass from Shawn Brophy that ended up being a 62-yard play down to the Muskie four.
Fullback Mac Schussler got into the end zone two plays later to make the score 19-2 with 2:46 left in the third quarter.
“Their offence had some pretty big guys and our boys did a great job in stopping them,” said Muskie defensive co-ordinator Lou Gauthier.
In all, the Muskie defence only made two mistakes—the penalty by Klyne that led to the field goal and the breakdown in the secondary that led to the big receiving play for the Broncos.
The defence also came up with three turnovers in the second half and forced another safety to wrap up the scoring.
“Normally in football, if you can create three turnovers, then you should win the game,” said defensive co-ordinator Greg Allan.
But two touchdowns by the Muskies were called back due to penalties (they had five infractions for 55 yards).
Though the score didn’t reflect their success, the Muskie offence was able to mix up the rush with the pass. On the down side, they turned over the ball six times inside the Broncos’ 20-yard line and you can’t win a game by doing that.
“I don’t care what league you’re playing in, you can’t do that,” stressed Swing.
Carmody had another good day on the ground for the Muskies, gaining 129 yards on 18 carries (his first 100-yard game of the season). But it was the play of Wepruk, who had 104 yards passing, which was the most encouraging for a Muskie offence that made significant improvements.
“I was a little nervous off the start but after a while I got used to things,” said Wepruk, who made his first start as quarterback after trading snaps with Boileau in the first two games.
“Our receivers ran their patterns really well today and executed,” the 14-year-old added.
Mike Sande had 45 yards from three catches while Boileau had 26 yards from four catches. Both will be counted on again this Friday when the Dryden Eagles, who also are 0-3, come to town for the annual Homecoming game.
“I’m ready to play them,” said Sande.
Kick-off is slated for 4 p.m.