COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Isaak Stark of the Neelin Spartans makes a touchdown catch against St. Norbert Celtics defender Brody Sitar during high school football action on Saturday afternoon. The Spartans won 49-0.
The Neelin Spartans continued their dominance at home on Saturday afternoon.
Osian Edwards of the Neelin Spartans runs after a handoff during first-half high school football action on Saturday afternoon. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
The Spartans pitched their third shutout of the Winnipeg High School Football League season — all of which have come at Neelin’s field — in a 49-0 conquest of the St. Norbert Celtics.
Matt Mitchler, a defensive back who finished the game with one tackle, one knockdown and one interception, didn’t think the Spartans (3-1) did anything special defensively, but took advantage of a solid game plan that held the Celtics (1-3) to one first down in the second half.
"We were just doing simple, basic coverage," he said. "We were blitzing the middle linebacker. Their quarterback wasn’t catching on to the blitzes, so we hit that gap and the quarterback was not good enough to take the hit."
Saturday’s contest was huge for the Spartans. Not only did they want to put on an impressive showing for all of the former players and coaches who came out for their first alumni recognition game, but they wanted to prove they are better than what they showed last week. A week ago, Neelin came out flat at Steinbach and was shut out.
The Spartans didn’t waste any time on Saturday as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and never looked back.
Dylan Minshull led the way on offence with 195 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.
Spartans head coach Robert Cullen likes how far his starting running back has come — Minshull is second in the Andy Currie Division with 571 rushing yards — and knows how integral he is to the team.
"He’s in Grade 11 this year and he learned a lot," Cullen said.
"I remember his first year of youth league and he quit. He didn’t want to play football, but he’s come a long way and he has a bright future if he wants to go on and play somewhere."
Bryce Keilback was 5-for-13 passing for 105 yards and two touchdowns for Neelin, while Theo Farough caught two passes for 82 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown. Isaak Stark caught the other touchdown pass. Osian Edwards returned an interception for a touchdown and Sam Waters kicked seven converts, while Brock Hiltner made four tackles.
Mitchler believes his team has what it takes to challenge for the division title. Cullen, however, wants to make sure his players know they have to play like they’re at home if they want to win their next two games, which are in Fort Frances, Ont., and Kenora, Ont., and gain momentum for a playoff spot.
"I think we have to feel pretty confident in what we did today and understand that last week getting off the bus was not our same team," he said.
"We’ve played three games at home and haven’t been scored on."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 1, 2012