They may be green, but they dream in black and gold.
The Muskie ‘C’ football squad experienced a rebirth this season after two years on hiatus due to not having a coach.
Under the tutelage of head coach Mike Gurski and assistants Steve Caul and Jimmy Shapiro, the 38-man roster has blossomed from humble beginnings.
“We had probably 15-20 kids come out for the first practice,” said Gurski. “Then every day, I’d look up, and there be one or two more new kids trudging across the field coming to play.”
But an absence of area teams to butt heads against has kept their competitive desires mostly unfulfilled.
“They’re really eager to play anyone who wants to play,” said Gurski. “They’re tired of playing each other. They just want to get out and compete.”
The Muskies’ season debut finally arrived last Thursday when they travelled to Warroad to face the Warriors in exhibition play.
The official result was a 50-6 loss, but Gurski said the score didn’t come close to telling the whole story.
“We talked to Warroad several times beforehand, telling them we were bringing down a team of mostly Grade 6 and 7 players,” he recalled.
“When I got to the game and went into the Warroad locker-room, there were kids who looked like giants compared to our guys getting ready to play.
“I thought, ‘This couldn’t be the guys were facing.’”
Gurski was assured by the opposing coaching staff it was the right team, and then said a Warroad coach asked curiously if Fort Frances’ intentions were to have a game or a scrimmage.
When Gurski consented to an official game, Warroad used their significant size and weight advantage to build a monumental 50-0 lead at halftime.
But at intermission, Gurski said he saw a new group of players—comparable in size to his team—arrive at the field and suit up for the second half.
“I could see from some of these guys that this should have been the team we played from the start,” said Gurski. “I told my team at half-time it was a new game, 0-0, as far as I was concerned.”
The second half was tightly-contested, with the only points coming on a 60-yard reverse ran in by Muskie wide receiver Scott Gurski.
Safety Alex Shoemaker then made a saving tackle to prevent a Warriors touchdown late in the game to preserve the second-half shutout for the ‘C’ squad.
“I call it a win,” Gurski said of the final two quarters.
“I don’t understand how they would think we were going to roll in with some kind of championship-calibre team that would make them play the guys they did against us in the first half.”
Still, Gurski said he was heartened by the comments of one of the game officials who talked to him afterwards.
“He said he had never seen kids like that, trailing 50-0 and still running on and off the field still excited,” an obviously proud Gurski remarked.
The Muskies travelled to Baudette for another exhibition game last night (the score was unavailable by press time).