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Clippers win league championship

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The Dauphin Clippers football team entered Saturday’s Rural Manitoba Football League (RMFL) championship game against the Moosomin Generals as underdogs.
After all, the Generals were undefeated, going 7-0 in the regular season, outscoring their opponents, 380-110, and they hammered the ParkWest Outlaws, 84-6 in their semifinal game. And in the head-to-head contest during the regular season, Moosomin dominated the Clippers to the tune of 74-34.
So when the two teams met in Moosomin with the championship on the line, many were expecting the Generals to walk away as the champions.
But this was not the first time the Clippers played a title game as underdogs and it showed. With no pressure to win, the Clippers did just that, capturing their third straight RMFL title and eighth in the last nine years with a 48-40 win over the favoured Generals.
Moosomin got off to a good start, building an 18-0 lead after the first quarter. But according to assistant coach Cam Bennet, the Clippers simply did not give up.
“Our defence really stepped up to play. Moosomin came out ready to go and, obviously, got up on us pretty quick, 18-0. And coach (Scott) Kish basically told the guys, ‘we’ve just got to go out and have fun.’ Being in the underdog status allowed us to play without any pressure,” he said.
“And the defence really stepped up and the offence started to click. And I think Moosomin just got a little bit shell shocked.”
Momentum swung back and forth throughout the game, but the Clippers kept working hard to overcome any momentum Moosomin had.
Turnovers were in favour of the Clippers as they did not fumble the ball at all, while the Generals had four fumbles. Moosomin had the only interception.
Field conditions, Bennet said, were excellent, thanks to the efforts of a Moosomin resident.
“All the credit goes to Moosomin. The president down there, he works for the local Co-op and they had one of the sweepers out, much like the ones that come and sweep the boulevards in the spring to sweep all the gravel off. So they had the field completely cleared. The only real issue was that it was cold,” he said.
Ty Hassel finished with 193 yards passing, completing 13 of 21 attempts. He also ran the ball for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Zach Eiffert led the ground attack with 120 yards on 14 carries and he also ran the ball in for a pair of majors.
Mason Rody was Hassel’s favourite receiver with five catches for 55 yards and two majors.
Caleb Seale had the other touchdown on a 65-yard run. Rody converted six of the seven touchdowns.
Dawson Fletcher led the defence with 12 tackles and one assist, while Steven Zurba and Rueben Houle each had five tackles, two assists and a fumble recovery.
The Clippers made some adjustments on defence, which was the biggest difference from the regular season game Moosomin won.
“(We) stacked the middle bit and tried to move a few people around that we felt could help beat Moosomin specifically. And it worked,” Bennet said, adding there were times when it appeared the pressure was getting to the Generals.
Playing the game on the road may have favoured the Clippers as they could just concentrate on the game.
“The guys gave it 100 per cent and we came through on the right side of the score,” Bennet said.
Next year will be a rebuilding year for the Clippers, who lose almost their entire starting offence.
“It will be a bit of a retooling year, but, as always, we’ve got kids coming up and they’ve seen these guys and how to compete and how to win,” he said.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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