TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Jared Spearing (28) of the Westman Wolverines tries to catch a pass during Manitoba Major Football League action against the North Winnipeg Nomads at Vincent Massey High School on Saturday. The Wolverines won the game 11-6.
The Westman Wolverines leaned heavily on their defence, but they came through as Westman earned its first victory of the Manitoba Major Football League season on Saturday at Vincent Massey’s field.
The Wolverines offence managed one touchdown on a 12-yard run by Brad Kyle, leaving their defence to step up. That’s exactly what they did as they didn’t allow the North Winnipeg Nomads
(0-2) to record a first down until the second half as the Wolverines (1-1) went on to an 11-6 victory.
T.J. Simpson led the Wolverines with nine tackles, one sack and one pass knockdown and he believes this is just a sign of things to come for the defence during the rest of the season.
"We play physical and we’re big and we like to hit. That’s about it," said Simpson, Westman’s starting middle linebacker. "Every player on our team likes to get their nose dirty, so we’re a solid defence.
"Our confidence has been sky-high since I got into practice. This just helps us. No first downs in the first half. We were talking about that going into halftime and that we were just going to keep taking it too them in the second half."
Adam McClelland added 4 1/2 tackles for Westman, while Kurtis Kimpinski had three. Cole Easton, who’s from Moosomin, Sask., made two tackles and one knockdown.
The lone black mark for Westman’s defence came midway through the fourth quarter. Leading 11-0, courtesy of Nomad safety touches in the second and fourth quarters, the Wolverines were tagged with unnecessary roughness penalties that allowed the Nomads to drive down to the Westman one-yard line. They scored on a pass play but missed the two-point conversion.
Penalties proved to be a large issue for both teams as the squads were tagged with numerous unnecessary roughness penalties during the contest. One against the Nomads put them within their own five-yard line and forced them to give up a safety three plays later.
Although head coach Dave Stantial is glad to get the win, he knows his team has to stop taking undisciplined penalties.
"We’re a much more physical team and players don’t like playing against physical teams, so they get chippy and we get caught retaliating," he said. "It’s something we preach in practice and pre-game and we still couldn’t keep our heads about us. It’s very disappointing with the number of penalties we took."
While the defence stole the show for the Wolverines, their offence was able to move the ball. Shayne Sebree rushed for 89 yards on 15 attempts, while Jared Spearing ran for 58 yards and hauled in three passes for 31 yards. James Johnson had 54 yards rushing as well.
Seth Hume was 10-for-17 in the air for 108 yards and two interceptions. Reed Beaudry was his favourite target. They connected three times for 34 yards.
Although the offence was able to move the ball, it struggled to finish. Matt Waters missed a pair of field goals and Hume threw a costly interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter that could have sealed the game.
Learning to finish off drives and discipline will be focal points this week as the Wolverines prepare to host the Greendell Falcons on Saturday at Crocus Plains at 3 p.m.
The Wolverines are a confident group as they prepare for a familiar foe.
"This is a team we know very well," Stantial said. "They were an expansion team the year after us and in the past two seasons we’ve played them four times. We know this team very well, we know what they’re going to come out and do, they know what we’re going to come out and do, so we’re going to go out and play our game against them and try to make it 5-0 against them."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 19, 2013