They were the few, the proud, but inevitably the overwhelmed.
The Muskie football team put in a gallant effort with a minimal roster but gave up 34 unanswered points in the second quarter to fall 46-12 to the Kildonan East Reivers in their WHSFL regular-season opener here yesterday.
The teams were tied 6-6 after the first quarter and the Muskies played the Reivers to a 6-6 draw in the second half.
But with just 20 bodies to start the game and only 18 to end it (after three players were injured and one arrived after halftime), Muskie head coach Mike Cuzzolino believes his team gave everything it had.
“They’re warriors,” lauded Cuzzolino, whose team was hurt by five turnovers but did manage to gain 150 yards rushing.
“They never gave up,” he added. “They were tired, sore, beat up, dehydrated and [yet] they battled to the end.
“They are all heart and you can’t coach that.”
The Muskies gave up the opening points when Winston Jourdain-Johnston had a punt go off his hands and into the end zone, where it was recovered by Desmond Jeanson.
Fort High evened the score on its next possession, marching 53 yards in 10 plays capped by a four-yard scoring run by Dougie deBernardeaux.
Kildonan East took the lead—and the momentum—for good on its subsequent drive.
After Reivers’ quarterback Danny Harris ran 49 yards on second-and-10 to end the first quarter, Jeanson scored from 16 yards out on the first play of the second to make it 12-6.
That was the first of five touchdowns in the quarter for Kildonan East against a rapidly-tiring Muskie team that was forced to have several players play both offence and defence, as well as special teams, the entire game.
Harris later tossed touchdown passes to Jeanson, Brandon Wiebe, and Michael Goldenstein in the frame, while also running one in from seven yards himself, as the Reivers went ahead 40-6 by halftime.
Sekina Scheibler gave the Muskies a spark on the first offensive play of the third quarter—rambling 62 yards to the end zone to make it 40-12.
Kildonan East, which went with its second-team offence for the second half, notched its only score midway through the third when back-up quarterback Talor Fisher plunged in from the one-yard line.
Muskie quarterback Brandon Whitecrow went 5-for-12 for 59 yards and one interception, and also ran for 20 yards.
Fort High (0-1) will look for its first win next Friday when it’s scheduled to host a 3 p.m. game against the St. Norbert Celtics (1-0).
But the status of next week’s game is in question as sources indicated today that Fort High administration may shut down the team for the rest of this season unless about 10 more players are added to the roster by early next week.
“We don’t know if it will fold,” admitted Cuzzolino. “But I know [Fort High principal Bill Daley] is going to try and help get some players out.
“He doesn’t want it to fold and neither do I,” Cuzzolino added.
“But the reality is we need players.”