Muskie head coach Bob Swing sounded like a road weary coach after Monday’s practice.
And you can’t blame him. His team has played three-straight Fridays in Winnipeg—and all of those contests were against opponents celebrating their Homecoming game.
Coming off a disappointing 27-22 loss to the River East Kodiaks, the Muskies (2-2) will be looking to turn things around this Friday when they play their Homecoming game against the Churchill Bulldogs (3-1).
Kick-off is 3:30 p.m. at Muskie Field.
“You can’t imagine how nice it is to be back home for a game,” said Swing, whose team went 1-2 in those three games and currently sits in fourth place in the ‘AA’ conference of the Winnipeg High School Football League.
“You’re not playing any bad teams in this league so we’ll be ready,” he stressed.
Muskie running back Jock Gemmell agreed, saying playing at home in this league means saving a time-consuming travel day.
“It’s good to be home. But we won’t get too excited. You prepare the same for every game,” he reasoned.
Last Friday, the host Kodiaks capitalized on several Muskie turnovers and penalties, including one which negated the potential game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter, for their first win of the season.
“If we’re disappointed in anything, it’s that we didn’t execute the little things,” noted Swing.
Muskie kicker Adam McTavish had an early field goal blocked, which Dan Washnuk recovered for a River East touchdown.
Gemmell and linebacker Dan Poperechny, off an interception, scored touchdowns to give the black-and-gold a 13-7 halftime lead. But the Kodiaks roared back with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to make it 21-13.
The Muskies didn’t quit, though. Gemmell scored from a yard out, then McTavish booted a single on the ensuing kickoff to put the team back up 22-21.
But they couldn’t hold River East, who scored the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
The Muskies tried to rally back, but a 54-yard touchdown run by Gemmell was called back on an illegal block. Then quarterback Andrew George was picked off twice by Kodiak defensive back Sean Oleksewycz in the dying minutes to ice the game.
“We took some bad penalties and turnovers,” noted Swing. “[But] you don’t blame it on penalties. The score is the score. There’s no use in changing anyone’s minds,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kodiak head coach Gord Puttaert was relieved to finally get their first win.
“It was a must-win for us. Things were getting pretty tough,” he said. “To sacrifice your body week in and week out, we were in desperate need of a win.
“They had the momentum late in the game but Sean stepped up and made two big plays for us.”
Gemmell accounted for most of the Muskie offence, gaining 228 total yards and scoring two touchdowns. He wasn’t bothered by the loss, saying it was a very close game.
“I think we’re handling it OK,” he said. “The team played well enough to win.”
McTavish missed some time in the first half due to ankle problems. He caught only two receptions for 49 yards.
George went 5-14 for 97 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Dan Hettinga added 55 yards on the ground plus 88 more on three kick-off returns.
The Muskies also will be home next Friday (Oct. 12) when they host the Sisler Spartans.
Elsewhere in the WHSFL last week, the Oak Park Raiders earned a 24-15 triumph over St. Paul’s in a battle of undefeated teams to take first place in the conference with a 4-0 record.
Other action saw Churchill blank Grant Park 31-0 while Sisler doubled Kelvin 28-14.