Vincent Massey’s Steven Gresl looks for the a hole in the Murdoch MacKay defence on Friday. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
The Vincent Massey Vikings made their debut in the Winnipeg High School Football League’s John Potter (AAA) Division with a tough 43-7 home field loss to the Murdoch MacKay Clansmen on Friday, but the team felt the score flattered the victors.
The Vikings were burned on big plays in the game — including three touchdowns of more than 90 yards — but Massey head coach Mike Steeves felt that his team went blow-for-blow with the 24th-ranked team in the country, if not for a few brain cramps by his players.
"We were in it," Steeves said. "I was saying to these guys and they know it, it was a battle, we were in it. At this level, the little things you got away with in other leagues, you can’t get away with here. Everyone here on those teams are ready to play. They know what they’re doing and it’s just another level. It’s fun and it’s great football."
The Vikings held their own through the first quarter, trailing 7-0. However, they fumbled on the Clansmen’s five-yard line on the final play of the opening frame and Murdoch MacKay promptly opened the second quarter with a 105-yard touchdown pass.
<t-3>Massey appeared to have cut the deficit in half midway through the second when Kirk Dechka ran 11 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back on a holding penalty. A botched snap on the ensuing field-goal attempt left Massey empty-handed. Murdoch made them pay with a
91-yard TD pass a few plays later.<t$>
Massey’s Matt Bryant replied with an 82-yard touchdown catch, with Jamil Tahhan adding the convert, but Murdoch MacKay scored two more majors — including one on a 110-yard punt return — before the half ended.
Getting outscored 29-7 in the final 2:49 of the first half rattled the Vikings, but Steeves was happy with the way his troops battled back.
"In a span of four minutes I had about three different halftime speeches," he said. "It’s a wave of emotion. … As I said to them at halftime, this is life. At some point you’ll feel down and out and you can sit back and crawl under those covers or you can get out and go do something about it, and we did.
"What a great second half. We gave up one touchdown in the second half. Our defence we say is tough and we gave up a lot of points, but they gave up no yards, except on four big plays."
Bryant finished the game with five rushes for 25 yards and two receptions for 109 yards. Thomas Moroz was 7-for-21 passing for 147 yards, while Cassidy Obijiaku had a 48-yard reception and Thayne Georges caught one pass for 39 yards for the Vikings.
Ty Kuz led the defence with four tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery, while Austin Mohr had Massey’s other pick. Steven Gresl and Rory Ponto both made four tackles.
Bryant admitted it felt like a big step to move up to the AAA division, but he feels if Massey makes some small adjustments, the Vikings will have a lot more success next week when they visit the Kelvin Clippers (1-0).
"Everyone’s pumped up that we’re playing in this league," he said. "Everyone thinks we can do it."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 7, 2013