Penalties cost Muskies chance to beat Broncos

The Winnipeg High School Football League can be an unforgiving place for teams that don’t help themselves.
The caliber of play in the WHSFL is such that often the margin between winning and losing comes down to only a handful of plays.
Therefore, it is essential that teams seize upon the opportunities as they present themselves if they hope to emerge victorious.
Playing in front of a large Homecoming crowd on Friday afternoon, the Muskies let several glorious chances slip through their fingers en route to a 7-7 tie with traditional NorWOSSA rivals the Kenora Broncos.
And while a draw against a quality opponent like the Broncos normally might be cause for celebration, the Muskie coaches couldn’t help but feel afterwards that their squad missed out on a golden opportunity to add another win to their season total.
“It was a physical football game,” Muskie head coach Bob Swing said. “They were physical. We were physical. But at the end of the day, we did the things to ourselves that cost us the game.”
The main cause of Swing’s frustration was numerous penalties committed at critical junctures of the game.
“There were four times we had them off the field and two of them occurred in the touchdown drive they had,” Swing recalled. “We had them off the field and penalties gave them first downs.”
The mental mistakes were not confined solely to the defensive side of the ball. The Muskie offence was given a chance to win the game with four minutes to play after the Broncos fumbled a punt return on their own 40-yard line.
However, the home side squandered the opportunity with a string of untimely penalties.
“The last part of the game we were right where we wanted to be,” Swing said. “Then we were first and 20, then first and 25, and there are not a lot of playbooks in the world that have plays for first and 25.”
Aside from all the mental errors and penalties, Swing was pleased with his team’s performance against a very good Kenora team.
“We hung in there,” he said. “It was a good, hard-working game and a tie doesn’t hurt us any. Give them credit, they were very physical and their backs made you tackle them.”
The Muskies kicked off to the Broncos to start the game and Kenora promptly returned the ball deep into Fort High territory.
Employing an effective running attack, the Broncos kept the sticks moving and soon found themselves with a first-and-goal opportunity.
With their backs to the wall and not wanting to fall behind early, the Muskie defence stuffed the Bronco backs on consecutive plays to force third down.
After a false start penalty backed them up five yards, Kenora then was held to a minimal gain on a sweep to the right—forcing a turnover on downs.
The Broncos were back at it in the second quarter, once again using their potent rushing attack to move the chains.
They looked poised to break the scoreless tie as the Muskies were struggling with their run defence. But then the Bronco coaching staff inexplicably decided to attempt a pass despite the poor weather conditions and the Muskies capitalized.
Cornerback Mike Sande intercepted the pass and, escorted by a convoy of blockers, returned the ball into Bronco territory.
The good field position would come to naught, though, as the Muskie offence struggled to find any rhythm in the first half. The game remained scoreless as the siren sounded for halftime.
The start of the third quarter saw the Muskies go back to doing what they do best on offence—hand the ball to running back Terry Carmody.
The Muskies’ star tailback ran hard between the tackles, driving the black-and-gold deep into Bronco territory. He then capped off the impressive drive with a hard run—dragging a Bronco tackler into the end zone with him.
Steve Boileau converted the point after attempt to give the home side a 7-0 advantage.
The lead would not last long, though, as the Broncos drove the length of the field on their next possession—aided by several Muskie penalties—to score a touchdown.
The Muskies narrowly missed blocking the point after attempt.
The fourth quarter saw both teams enjoy long drives but neither side could break through the other’s defence to score the winning points and the game ended in the tie.
The Muskies (2-1-1) will host St. Paul’s #2 in their next game this Friday (Sept. 29) at 3 p.m.