The Muskies football ‘A’ team will cross the border tonight for their first game of the season--an exhibition battle against the heavily-favoured International Falls Senior High School Broncos.
Muskies head coach Bob Swing said this game, like all opening games, is crucial for gauging how ready this team is for their upcoming regular season.
“For this game, we just want to stay healthy and to see how far we’ve come since our field practices,” he said. “All I’m concerned about is getting our lines game-ready for the season.”
That line, specifically their defensive line, should be wary of Broncos fullback Chad Kuffenkam. The senior ran for three touchdowns in last year’s opener, a 49-6 win over the Muskies.
Swing added they are entering a second year of a two-year contract with the Falls where they play them on their field but these teams have been playing other at least once a year since 1997.
“For us, it’s just convenient to play Fort Frances,” echoed Broncos head coach Timm Ringhofer, the longtime ‘B’ team coach and ‘A’ assistant who will be taking over for Stuart Nordquist this year. “It’s good for both programs. It’s a good first game for us and a good rivalry for us.”
Unfortunately for the Muskies, the last two matchups have been anything but close. In addition to last September’s loss, Fort High was on the wrong end of a 55-0 romp in a mid-season exhibition rematch.
However, Ringhofer said the team is not planning on relying on the past success enjoyed since this also is his team’s first game.
“You can’t go against them expecting to have games like last year,” he said. “They have some experience coming back.”
Swing said he recognizes a David and Goliath match when he sees one.
“They’ve beaten some very good teams in the state and are always contenders in the state playoffs,” said Swing. “But besides taking their playoffs very seriously, the Falls do not want to lose on their homecoming. And more importantly, they do not want to lose to a Canadian team.”
Muskies wide receiver Kevin Gemmell is taking the same approach as his coach, simply looking forward to a good game.
“It’ll be a challenge for us. We’ll be OK as long as we hustle and play together,” he added.
The Broncos finished second in their C-range conference yet won their section and played in the state playoffs. Fort High finished second in the three-team NorWOSSA playoff system. They’ll play their first WHSFL game at Muskie field next week at 7 p.m.
Gametime is 7 p.m. at Bronco Stadium with admission being $5 US ($7 CDN) for adults and $3 US ($4 CDN) for students and senior citizens.