Despite not finishing the Winnipeg High School Football League regular season on the most positive of notes, the Muskie football team is aiming to rectify that in the playoffs.
A 29-6 loss to the Maples Mauraders last Wednesday in Winnipeg left the Muskies with a 4-2 record and a third-place finish in the six-team Currie Division ('A').
Maples finished second with a 4-1 record and nabbed a bye to the semifinals while the black-and-gold now has to square off against the last-place Neelin Spartans (0-6) in the quarterfinals, which is slated for tomorrow at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.
The Muskies won the season series against the Spartans 2-0, outscoring them 70-25 in the process.
“Hopefully the kids can learn from [the loss] and they'll be ready to come out on Monday [at practice] and give it their all and if they do that, I think we'll be okay,” Muskie co-coach Vic Davis said on Sunday.
"We're gonna go over what we know, we're gonna make some adjustments and we're gonna put a few little plays in. Running plays, a different kind of look with a three-man backfield.
“We're gonna switch things up a little bit,” he revealed.
“So, we're gonna give that a try when we play our game on Thursday and we don't wanna look past Neelin,” he stressed.
“We're gonna concentrate on them. Hopefully we'll win and then we can get serious and we'll probably end up playing Maples [in the semis], so we don't wanna look too far ahead of [the Spartans] first, but hopefully we can take care of business beforehand.”
It was all Marauders early on in last Wednesday's game as they raced out to a 16-0 lead at halftime to take full control.
Maples forced the Muskies into a safety to open the scoring in the first quarter before quarterback Harper Brown connected with receiver Ezra Leano on an 11-yard touchdown catch to push it to 9-0 (the extra point was good).
Brown then ran in another major in the second quarter to put his side firmly ahead by 16 at the break (the extra point was good).
“We moved the ball,” Davis stressed.
"We had an interception deep down in their end that killed a drive and then we drove down the field just before halftime and we ran out of time.
“I think we got stopped at the 5-yard line on a scramble by our quarterback [Brady Meeks] and that was it,” he noted.
“If we would have converted on those two touchdowns it would have been tied and it might have been a different game. But overall we just didn't play very well and execute our plays and I think that's just because we had a sloppy three days of practice.”
In the third, Brown ran home another major (the extra point was good) before running back Kael Archie punched in the Muskies' lone touchdown of the game on a short rushing play from about five yards out.
Fort High then opted to run a two-point conversion play, but it was unsuccessful to leave the score at 23-6.
“It was shorter touchdown but he [Archie] pounded it in and I think we went for two and we came up short again,” Davis lamented.
“So things just didn't work out for us.”
Rubbing salt in the wound, Mason Jesmer ran in another major for Maples late in the fourth to round out the scoring (the extra-point was missed).
Brown finished the game going 2 of 4 for 36 yards and a touchdown in the win for Maples, while backup pivot Ty Traverse went a perfect 3 for 3 for 23 yards.
Muskie stats for the game weren't posted on the WHSFL website.
“The way it ended I hope the kids are just hungry to, hopefully, play these guys again and maybe get a little bit of revenge,” Davis remarked.
“At the end of the game, Maples was celebrating and doing somersaults and the whole works. So, if that doesn't get us fired up to try to get back at them then I don't know what would,” he mused.
“But first we gotta win our game against Neelin on Halloween.”