The Westman Wolverines have a monumental task ahead of them today: Play better than they have ever before in order to reach the Manitoba Major Football League championship game.
That may sound like a tall order, but that’s what head coach Dave Stantial thinks it will take in order to knock off the East Side Eagles — 8-0 in the regular season — in today’s semifinal in Winnipeg.
Stantial saw his team post its best performance of the season in the Wolverines’ 34-30 quarter-final victory over the St. James Rods last week. However, he’s hopeful his team can take their play to yet another level.
“We have to go out and play our game,” he said. “It was the best game we’ve ever played before and we just have to top that again, there’s no two ways about that. The Eagles are a very high-scoring team and we just have to keep going out there and do our best and take care of business.”
Westman, which posted a 4-4 regular-season record, plans to stay with the same offensive game plan that has it on a five-game winning streak. The Wolverines like to pound it up the middle with running back Shane Sebree, which opens up some holes for Kyle Pacheco and Jared Spearing, who are speed backs, later in the contest.
Westman may have its hands full defensively as the Eagles scored a league-high 373 points this season in the MMFL, which is for junior-aged players from 18 to 22. Stantial hopes to shut down the Eagles’ ground game early in the game and force them to throw the ball.
The Wolverines know the semifinal won’t be easy, but they have a lot of faith in their abilities. They feel they matched up well with East Side in their 42-30 loss in the two teams’ season opener and won’t be intimidated by the Eagles’ perfect record.
“We’re going to go in with that mind set that we did play them well,” said Stantial, who added that both teams have made a lot of changes since their last meeting. “We did make some errors, particularly with special teams. We’ve gotten a lot better on special teams since that first game. That let us down a little bit in that game.
“The first game, we were still finding our identity, too, and we’ve found our identity and what we want to do. I think that will help us out, too.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 20, 2012