It seems a season-opening loss to the Springfield Collegiate Sabres was just the wake-up call the Muskie football team needed.
The Muskies cruised to their third-straight rout, dispatching the Tec Voc Hornets 32-0 in their annual Homecoming game on Friday afternoon at Fort High.
The win improved the black-and-gold to 3-1 in the six-team Currie Division ('A'), good enough for second place with two games remaining in the Winnipeg High School Football League regular season.
“I was just impressed at how smart [our] kids are,” Muskie co-coach Vic Davis lauded.
"They're confident, they go out and play and they go out with the attitude knowing that they can win the game and I think they showed it.
“Offensively they know their assignments, they know the blocking assignments, and I think they're making very few mistakes,” he praised.
“As compared to our first game, we were rusty, and they just continue to learn really fast over the last four games and I think it's showing. They're just getting better and better.”
Points were hard to come by for the Muskies in Friday's game against the Hornets (1-3), as they effectively shut down the black-and-gold's run game.
That in turn forced Fort High to have to find other ways to beat them offensively.
After a scoreless first quarter, Muskie wide receiver Carson Noga found some room on a reverse play and rambled one into the end zone from 20 yards out to open the scoring early in the second (the extra point was good).
Kicker Sean Huziak then punted home a long single through the Hornets' end zone and the Muskies also got a point off a touchback to carry a 9-0 lead into halftime.
“It was a little different in the first half, we're used to scoring quite a bit but Tec Voc, they played good too. They kept us off-balance,” Davis noted.
"They were one of the first teams to kinda stop our run plays, so we just made some adjustments and all that and at halftime we came out and we did pretty well.
“So I was pretty happy with everybody. Especially the defence, they played really, really good,” he enthused.
In the third, Muskie quarterback Brady Meeks connected with wide receiver William Richards in the end zone on a 16-yard score to extend it to 16-0 (the extra point was good).
Meeks found receiver Ayden Gushulak-Kelly later in the frame for another major in the end zone, while Fort High also got another touchback, to carry a commanding 24-0 lead into the fourth.
The Muskies then put nine points on the board in final frame to seal the win, which was capped off by a roughly 30-yard rushing touchdown by Meeks.
“I thought we moved the ball well in the game and I was sure we were going to get on track, and we were gonna start getting some points,” said Davis.
"The boys were executing all their plays and I think it was just a matter of time. But, yeah, Noga's touchdown really got us going and got everyone all pumped up.
“So, that was good,” he enthused.
Meeks finished the game going 12 of 16 for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He also picked up 90 yards on 11 carries with another TD.
Defensively, Jacob Argue and Colten Allen led the way with three tackles each. Noga had one tackle and a forced fumble.
Huziak went a perfect 4 of 4 on extra-points while also picking up 100 yards on three punts.
“He's been everything, like to have a quarterback that can run and scramble like he does and his arm, he's been very accurate in practice and he can throw that ball,” Davis lauded of Meeks.
“So he's been huge. It makes a big difference when we can have a guy who can throw the ball like he does and hit the [receivers].”
The Muskies will resume WHSFL action tomorrow when they head to Winnipeg to take on the Maples Marauders (2-1).
Second place in the Currie Division will be on the line, which Davis stressed makes it a huge game for them in terms of playoff implications.
Fort High then will conclude the regular season on Oct. 17 on the road against the last-place Neelin Spartans (0-4).
"So far we've been lucky, no major injuries and as long as they stay healthy, I feel pretty confident,' Davis said of the final two games of the regular season.
“I know this upcoming game with Maples will be our biggest test, other than our first game like in Springfield, but I think we're actually tied in the standings, so this game's gonna be for second place and this is a big game,” he stressed.
"We'll just have to watch a little more film on them and try to learn a little bit of their schemes and stuff.
“Like I said, the kids are smart and catch on fast and hopefully we can go in there and establish ourselves as the No. 2 team in the league and go from there,” he added.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the championship.”