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Retooled Muskies to host Buckeyes on Friday

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Just two weeks ago, the Muskie football team’s season looked to be dead in the water.

But a pulse returned in last Thursday’s 33-13 road loss to the Maples Marauders—just one game removed from a forfeit defeat to River East.

“Couldn’t be happier with the way the boys played [versus Maples],” Muskie defensive co-ordinator Bob Whitburn lauded.

“The new guys who started [after last Monday’s meeting] were a phenomenal help,” he added.

“Some of them seem to be really happy to be there, and others just here to hang out, but that’s part of the game.”

“We put in a game plan in two days with guys that had worn football pads for less than five days,” noted offensive co-ordinator Andrew George.

“I never thought I’d be so content with losing a game 33-13,” he admitted.

“I really wish we had these guys all season long,” George added. “I’m pretty confident that if we did, we wouldn’t be an 0-4 team right now.”

The black-and-gold got on the scoreboard for the first time this season with a pair of touchdowns.

“The [poor] weather really helped us,” George noted. “I told the guys before the game [that] anything can happen out there.

“The team that wins the game will be the team that takes advantage of those opportunities.

“We recovered a fumble in our own end zone to set up our first score, and had a couple of other fumble recoveries and an interception in the game,” he remarked.

“The conditions gave us an opportunity to just play football and leaned our way because, obviously, we didn’t have many offensive plays and packages prepared on such short notice,” George added.

The running game—ineffective in the team’s first two games—chewed up yardage in the first half.

Tyler Abma ran in a touchdown and had one called back on a penalty while Brad McDonald made a great diving catch to account for the other score.

And despite giving up 33 points, the Muskies found some answers to their woes on the defensive side of the ball, too.

“Their points were all on big, long plays,” Whitburn noted. “We were shutting them down fairly regularly, but we were weak on our outside, the one side, and they picked up on that.”

The sense of impending doom has subsided for now, but the focus shifts to building off of last Thursday’s effort in their remaining three games.

“I was happy with our effort, happy for the most part with our execution, but we really do have to move on and grow from the experience,” George stressed.

“We need to continue coaching and getting these new guys up to game speed and, at the same time, continue to advance our offensive and defensive systems or it’s going to be a long three games,” he admitted.

“We can’t hope for rain and sleet every game; the teams we are playing are creative on both sides of the ball and have a couple games up on us [counting exhibition play].

“We have to continue to learn this game and get better with our technique,” George added. “And as coaches, [we have to] put our players in the best position to

succeed.”

Fort High (0-4) will host the Miles Mac Buckeyes this Friday (Oct. 9) at 3 p.m., who are 1-3 after beating the Kenora Broncos 30-3 last Friday.

This is a must-win game for the Muskies. The Buckeyes are one of the teams the black-and-gold have to leapfrog if they hope to sneak into one of the four playoff spots up for grabs in the Kas Vidruk East Conference.

The Vincent Massey Trojans lead the conference at 3-1, followed by Portage (2-2), Kenora (2-2), and River East (2-2). The Buckeyes and Muskies round out the standings.

The black-and-gold would have to win out and hope one of those 2-2 teams lose their remaining three games.

“I’m not really treating this game as a playoff game; more like Week 1 of the season,” George reasoned. “We just came off a quick training camp and an exhibition game.

“We’ll take everything one game at a time and see where we end up by the end of the season.”

If the Buckeyes’ trouncing of Kenora is any indication, they should be much better than their 1-3 record suggests. Miles Mac lost by less than a touchdown to both Portage and Maples before getting beat up by Vincent Massey 39-7 in Week 3.

“Miles Mac looks like a great team on tape,” George warned. “Physically, I know we’ve got the guys that can match up.

“We’re still going to keep things simple, but we’ll show a few new looks that you can expect to see for the rest of the season.

“Miles Mac has some great offensive weapons that we will need to keep in check,” he stressed. “They might have the best receiver in the league and they use him well.”

The Muskies also got some help in the coaching ranks with the return of defensive coach Lou Gauthier to the sidelines.

“We both look at [defence] from a different point-of-view; everyone does see things differently,” Whitburn noted. “But we seem to get along okay when we’re doing it.

“It was a big help having him there,” Whitburn added. “Kudos to those student coaches who come out and help us, as well.”

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