The Springfield Sabres burst out to a 22-0 first quarter lead against the Fort Frances Muskies in Division 3 action on Friday and didn't look back, winning 29-7 in their inaugural game in Oakbank, Manitoba.
A number of impact players on the Sabres' roster such as running back Wesley Kwan -- the player of the game with eight carries for 105 yards in just a half of action -- and Tommy Walls, the quarterback who went 8-of-11 for 94 yards and a score, came from the MMFA's Sunrise Coyotes program.
Sunrise, which is also based out of Oakbank, was formed six years ago by Sabres head coach Tom Walls. The program won it all at the bantam level in 2018 and with a variety of key players aging out, Walls felt the time was right to continue what was started at the MMFA level, but this time with a WHSFL squad.
"It's a neat group of kids," Walls said shortly after the week one contest.
"We've got about 20 kids on the team who have been playing within the Sunrise program for three to four years. We know them, we know their families, we know their parents. And we've also got about 13 kids who are relatively brand new to football. We've got an eclectic mix but at least for today it worked."
Sunrise utilized an effective triple option on offence with a variety of misdirection plays that confused the Muskies. Kwan as well as fellow back Josh Atamanchuk were the primary beneficiaries of long gains all day long.
But Fort Frances didn't go down without a fight. They narrowed the score to 22-7 with eight minutes to play in the first half thanks to a few big gains on screen plays from running back Sean Huziak. Quarterback Brady Meeks was also a workhouse, challenging his inner Chris Streveler all game long with a ton of huge gains on naked bootleg plays. He took an enormous amount of hits but kept on getting up and was the team's emotional leader all game long.
Despite the Muskies being able to control possession as the fourth quarter rolled along, they were unable to narrow the Sabres' lead, as the hosts recorded two key goal line stands to preserve the victory while also adding another major to start the third.
Next up for the Sabres is a tilt with Churchill this Thursday, while Fort Frances will play Neelin at 4 p.m. on the same day at East Side Eagles field in the WHSFL Game of the Week broadcast. That game can be listened to live on MIKE FM.