Even though the Muskie football team grabbed sole possession of first place with a 23-15 victory over the Dryden Eagles there Saturday, head coach Bob Swing made it clear he wasn’t particularly pleased with how his team played.
In fact, he described the win as being “very ugly.”
Still, Swing and his crew will take the two points for the victory, which puts the Muskies atop the NorWOSSA standings with a perfect 2-0 record, one game ahead of the Kenora Broncos (1-1), whom the Muskies destroyed 36-0 in the season-opener here.
Those same two teams will battle in a rematch Friday at 3:30 p.m. in Kenora.
“A win’s a win," Swing conceded. "It was our first road game of the year and we came out a bit lackadaisical. But I still think we dominated the game physically.”
What the Muskies did do was dominate on the scoreboard, particularly in the second quarter, when they erased an 8-0 Dryden lead by scoring 17 unanswered points.
The Eagles opened the scoring when quarterback Myles Morris scored on a seven-yard run. That major was set up when Muskie pivot Jon Caul was intercepted inside his 40-yard line.
But the Muskie defence came up big later in the quarter when Dryden had the ball first-and-goal. Unable to crack the end zone, the Eagles had to settle for a single point when their 12-yard field goal attempt missed the uprights.
The Muskies converted a 20-yard field-goal attempt by Caul early in the second quarter to make the score 8-3. But then they recovered an Eagle fumble less than five minutes later and capitalized when Chad Canfield scored on a one-yard plunge up the middle to make it 10-8.
Caul later scored a touchdown of his own, a 30-yarder scamper on a naked bootleg, with just over two minutes left in the half to give the Muskies a 17-8 lead. It’s been a play that has gained sizable yardage for the Muskies all season.
“Yeah, we run it pretty good,” Swing said modestly.
The Muskies increased their lead to 23-8 in the third quarter when running back Dana Preston scored on a three-yard burst up the middle that sealed the victory.
The Eagles closed out the scoring on Morris’ second major of the game—a 35-yard run in the fourth quarter—that pulled the Eagles to within eight. But that was as close as they would come.
Swing said the Muskies’ running game once again was impressive in the victory, led by Terry LaBelle, the league leader in touchdowns this season with three.
“LaBelle played really well again,” he noted, adding LaBelle also had a 50-yard punt return against Dryden.
But as the running game continues to rack up big yardage on the ground, the air attack struggled Saturday, leaving Swing to ponder his team’s offensive game plan for Friday’s tilt in Kenora.
“We had trouble throwing the ball," he said. "Jon was thinking too much instead of throwing.”
On the bright side, the Muskies will head into Friday’s clash much healthier than last week. Defensive starters Chuck Arpin Jr. (knee) and Jeff McFayden (neck) will both be back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s game.
But running back David Bond, the leading rusher in NorWOSSA last season, is still out with a broken right tibia.