Muskie head coach Bob Swing said Saturday’s exhibition game in Winnipeg against the St. Paul’s Crusaders will be just that--a chance for players to exhibit their skills to the black-and-gold coaching staff.
The defending NorWOSSA champs will be looking to avenge last season’s 28-18 pre-season loss to the Crusaders here. But Swing stressed his staff will be concentrating more on how certain players perform at different position and situations rather than the scoreboard.
"This game will give us a chance to view the personnel and take a look at the film," said Swing, in his second season at the Muskies’ helm.
"The players all know the techniques," he added. "We’re going to line up and try to beat them at the line of scrimmage."
That’s where the Muskies dominated both Dryden and Kenora last season in compiling a 4-1-1 record over the regular season, which was followed by a 9-1 win here in the NorWOSSA final last November against the Eagles.
And while the offensive line was outstanding a year ago, it should just be as good this season--creating huge holes for David Bond, NorWOSSA’s leading rusher in 1996.
And while Bond, still recovering from a broken right tibia suffered as a Muskie soccer player earlier this year, will miss Saturday’s game in Winnipeg, the Muskies still have plenty of veteran offensive players back for the start of this season, led by second-year quarterback Jon Caul and receiver Nathan Kempf.
Swing hinted Caul and rookie Gary Wager, who will start for the Muskie ‘B’ team and is pencilled in as Caul’s back-up with the senior squad, will see an equal amount of snaps against St. Paul’s.
Caul will play the first and third quarters while Wager will see action in the second and fourth. Mike Noonan, a receiver and Caul’s back-up last season, also may see some action at the pivot position, Swing added.
Meanwhile, Muskie defensive co-ordinator Brent DeBenedet said his defence, which proved to be the key in the team’s drive for NorWOSSA gold last year, will be better prepared to handle St. Paul’s ground game this time around.
"We’re going to be prepared, particularly on the sweep, where we’ll have our outside linebackers [Joel Grimard and Pete Moen] take away the outside and force [the ball carrier] back inside to the middle of our defence," he explained.
"We’re going to be aggressive on defence and go to them, and not wait for them to come to us.
"The defence will have a few surprises," DeBenedet pledged.
The Muskies will take 35 players to Winnipeg for the game against St. Paul’s, which starts at 1 p.m. Then they’ll see their next exhibition action when they travel across the border to face the International Falls Broncos on Friday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m.
The black-and-gold will open the NorWOSSA campaign here Friday, Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. against the Kenora Broncos.