In the last practice before his team’s season-opener, Chad Canfield saw the light go on.
“Something happened in yesterday’s practice,” said the head coach following the Muskies’ 43-0 romp over the visiting St. John’s Tigers (Winnipeg) on Friday afternoon in the WHSFL opener for both teams.
“We got a couple of new coaches in and it really added some intensity to our ‘D,’” Canfield noted.
The Muskies (1-0) held the toothless Tigers (0-1) to just 59 yards of total offence, including only one completed pass for six yards.
“They got a little tricky as the game went on, trying to run some reverses,” said Muskie safety Braden Webb.
“We started out the game hyped up, though, and got everyone to the ball carrier,” he added.
“That caused a lot of fumbles on their part.”
Defensive tackle Kenton Bowles led the Muskies on defence with an interception and a fumble recovery.
Meanwhile, linebackers Wade Johnson, Tanner Gill-Roisin, and Brett Mann, along with lineman Dallas Gervais, were among many Fort High defenders who delivered punishing blows to any Tiger touching the football.
With Grade 9 starter Eric Matthews at quarterback, the Muskies wanted to take the pressure off the rookie pivot and used the ground-and-pound philosophy to perfection—steamrolling St. John’s for 279 rushing yards.
The attack was paced by Dougie deBernardeaux, who shredded the Tigers with nine carries for 155 yards and three touchdowns, with another called back due to a penalty for an illegal block.
“All three running backs played great, especially Dougie,” said Matthews, who completed three-of-four passes for 28 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown strike to Tristen Badiuk to put the Muskies up 15-0 in the first quarter.
“He really wore down their defence.”
Dan Andy (44-yard run) and Jacob Bolzan (75-yard punt return) had the other touchdowns for the Muskies.
Ben Whitburn added an 18-yard field goal while he and Cody Bell each converted one of the touchdowns.
The game screeched to a halt with 2:19 left in the second quarter.
On the kick-off following Bolzan’s major, St. John’s returner Brett Yaskiw was blasted by Johnson and lay motionless on the ground for several minutes, with an ambulance eventually called to the scene.
“One of our guys had [Yaskiw] wrapped up around the legs and Wade came in a million miles an hour like you’re supposed to,” noted Canfield.
“[But] you never want to see anybody get hurt.”
Yaskiw was loaded into the ambulance on a stretcher complaining of soreness in his neck and back, and suffering from a possible concussion.
The referee signalled for the rest of the time to be run off the clock for the quarter, bringing an early start to halftime.
The Muskies return to action this Friday for their second of three-straight home games, with Winnipeg’s Daniel McIntyre Maroons visiting for a 3 p.m. clash.
The Maroons (1-0) are coming off a 27-13 home win over the Dryden Eagles.