Dropped passes cost Muskies in opener
While a seven-point loss to last year’s Andy Currie ‘A’ Division runner-ups certainly is nothing to sneeze at, Muskie football head coach Chad Canfield felt like his team had let an opportunity slip away here Friday afternoon.
In what proved to be a tightly-contested affair, the Elmwood Giants came away with a 14-7 win in the opening game of the 2012 Winnipeg High School Football League season for both teams, although Canfield felt his team had a chance to start the year off on a winning note.
“Our wide receivers are usually very sure-handed out there, and today [Friday] they just weren’t catching the ball out there.
“I’d line up again and play them right now, and would be pretty confident in our team’s chances,” Canfield added.
With starting quarterback Tobijah Gerber back after missing the entire 2011 season due to a left ACL injury, the black-and-gold were able to use the passing attack to much more effect than they did last year.
However, a number of passes that would have resulted in first downs weren’t hauled in by the Muskie wide-outs, which led to a few turnovers on downs while in Giants’ territory.
“It was pretty much one of those days out there where things just didn’t go our way,” Canfield sighed.
“I think if we would have got a few completions going, I think we could have put up a lot of points, so that’s pretty frustrating.
“I don’t know what we could have done differently out there, but it shows that we have some things that we need to work on for next week,” he stressed.
The Giants drew first blood late in the first quarter when quarterback Braydin Chicoine found Stephen Ugbah in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown reception that gave his team a 7-0 lead following a successful convert.
Then following the block of a 27-yard field goal attempt by Shaun Neil on the final play of the first quarter, the black-and-gold tied the score midway through the second quarter when defensive back Braden Webb recovered a fumble by Ugbah and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
“Braden’s a guy that we can always count on,” Canfield said.
“He’s the type of player that you can always expect to have a solid game out there, and we are very lucky to have him on our team.”
The Giants responded just before halftime, though, as they marched down the field on a lengthy drive, which concluded with a five-yard reception in the end zone by Travis Wilson.
Both offences ground to a screeching halt in the second half as the Muskies shut down the Giants’ run game while the visitors made a few stops of their own to stymie any Fort High threats.
“Coming into the game, we had a few question marks about the defence but they were excellent,” Canfield lauded.
“They forced quite a few turnovers out there that put the offence into the good field position, and they also got the points for us on the scoreboard,” he noted.
“Fort has some good size on their team, and we were finding it quite hard to move the ball on them,” noted Giants’ head coach Nathan Falk.
“Our defence stepped up, though, and held them to zero points during the game, and that was huge for us,” he stressed.
After reaching the division final last year, where they came up short against the Sisler ‘A’ Spartans, the 2012 campaign will be one of change for the Giants’ program as they lost a number of players from last season.
“We pretty much are starting from square one here,” Falk said of his team, which will be on the road again this weekend to take on the 1-0 Tec Voc Hornets.
“We have a starting quarterback [Chicoine] and running back [Neil] who are both in Grade 10, so it’s pretty much a rebuilding process right now.
“So that’s why we are pretty happy to get a win to start things off,” he remarked.
As for the Muskies, they’ll be preparing to head out on the road this Friday when they will meet the 1-0 Dryden Eagles.
“We’ll be planning to open up the offensive playbook a little bit more in practice, and add in a few of the plays that worked well for us last year,” Canfield noted.
“We just seemed to be missing a beat every time on offence today [Friday],” he added. “But once we put things together out there, we should be fine.”
The black-and-gold may be without the services of linebacker Matthew Cheetham for Friday’s game as the Grade 10 player was taken away on a stretcher at the start of the third quarter after he was injured on the Giants’ touchdown drive late in the first half.
“I think the staff thought that he had a concussion so the medical crew was being very cautious on that with him,” Canfield explained.
“Matt’s a young player for us who was starting to get some playing time for us, so it’s unfortunate to see him get injured like that,” he added.