Muskies suffer blow as exhibition game cancelled

The time was supposed to be tomorrow afternoon. The place was supposed to be the Sturgeon Creek football field in Winnipeg. The event was supposed to be an exhibition game between the Muskies and Sturgeon Creek Schooners.
But a phone call from Schooners coach, Brett Watt, changed all that.
Muskie head coach, Bob Swing, lifted the receiver at about 8:30 on Monday night and though it was news he would’ve rather not heard, it was news the Muskies will have to deal with.
“We preach a whole bunch to our kids of only worrying about the things you can control and you can’t worry about the rest. And we’ve got to take our own medicine now, because we can’t control it, so we’ve got to figure out what we do next,” Swing said yesterday afternoon.
Watt had to cancel the game because he wouldn’t have been able to field a full team, but this has happened before to the Muskies and the main reason is because Manitoba high schools don’t start school until after Labour Day, while Northwestern Ontario schools start before, and that creates problems for some Winnipeg teams in getting enough players to field a team.
“He felt very bad about it,” answered Swing whether Watt, who is a former Muskie, was apologetic about having to cancel.
The game was an important one for the Muskies, who were looking to evaluate the players and start making decisions on where a player should play and how the systems are working, but that has now been snuffed.
So in its place, it looks like the coaching staff will have an intra-squad practice this Friday afternoon at Fort High (more details weren’t available, as it is still being discussed), and even though that scrimmage wouldn’t be able to match the intensity and pressure of an actual game, Swings says the Muskies will have to make due.
“You can never create a game tempo in practice, and that’s a negative, but we’ll still get the evaluation that we need to get,” Swing noted.
The earliest teams in the Winnipeg High School League could start having practices was Aug. 22 and that’s when the Muskies began their training camp, which has been garnering positive reactions from the coaching staff.
“It’s been going pretty good, because a lot of them are remembering things we taught them at spring camp, and all we’re doing is just reinforcing what we did then, and the newer kids are picking things up pretty quick,” said defensive co-ordinator Lou Gauthier.
“This year we actually have a bunch of athletes and not ballerinas,” he jokingly added.
Close to 40 players were at practice this past Monday and those numbers will most likely rise a bit once students gets settled. Considering the team had difficulties running “effective practices” last year (being able to have the offense play against the defense) due to lackluster numbers, they are already ahead of where they were last season.
“I believe we’re a good week from where we were last year,” said Swing.
Offensive co-ordinator, Shane Beckett, agrees that he likes what he sees from the team, especially from the crop of Grade 9 players, who are starting to understand a few of the Muskie philosophies.
“What we want from these guys is to show improvement and to show a good work ethic. We’ll never shy away from a kid that gives us 110 percent, so when we ask them to get on the field, we ask them to know their assignment and do his job,” Beckett said.
The Muskies’ regular season opener takes place next Friday (Sept. 9) against the Miles Mac Buckeyes in Winnipeg, and though the team has much to accomplish before they consider themselves ready for next week—“Scatterbrained, busy, young,” says Swing—things are progressing at an agreeable pace nonetheless.
“It’s always hectic at the beginning to get everyone on the same page, at the same time and at the same spot,” said Swing, “but we’ve got 37 players here and they’re pretty good football players.”
But unfortunately those “football players” will have to keep playing at “practice speed” and wait until they can don the Muskie uniform, step onto the gridiron and play at “game speed.”

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