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Robins fall 19-8 in season opener to Rhinelander
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Coming into Friday evening, the Antigo Red Robin varsity football team had won 11 of its past 12 games against the infamous Rhinelander Hodags. Perhaps stars aligned for Rhinelander, or more so Coach Chris Ferge wanted to set a standard in his first game as the Hodags’ head coach that would move his program in the right direction. With a passing onslaught against an equally-inexperienced Robins team, the Hodags put together a 19-8 victory over Antigo at Mike Webster Stadium in what was fortunately a non-conference game.

Antigo allowed junior quarterback Brandon Reinthaler, a returning starter from last season, who only recorded 220 passing yards in all of 2013, to light up Antigo’s secondary for 209 yards through the air and three touchdowns. Passing from the spread offense, Antigo found themselves unable to defend against Reinthaler and his talented, 6’3” wide receiver Bryce White.

Coach Matt Weberpal said after the game, “We made a lot of mistakes and lost the penalty battle. Defensively (we were) out of position to make plays and didn’t execute when we had the opportunity.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Hodags managed to come to terms with their up-tempo offense that had cost them four false starts going into the second quarter alone. Capping a 78-yard drive for Rhinelander was a 38-yard touchdown pass from Reinthaler to White, where Gabby Millot missed the subsequent extra point.

With the Hodags jumping out to a 6-0 lead, a 55-yard Antigo drive saw Aeric Berner score on a left end around that went for 36 yards and six points. A broken point after attempt by quarterback and place kicker Tony Libit worked out to the Robins fruition, allowing the junior to scramble in time to throw to Zach Levis for the two-point conversion.

Despite the Robins 8-6 lead, Libit was sacked four times in the first half alone. After starting the game with two fumbles that he both lost and recovered, found himself not so lucky with two minutes left in the second quarter. After being hit from behind, Rhinelander recovered at the Antigo 12 yard line. Threatening with moments left in the half, Reinthaler made a rare downfield mistake, throwing an interception to Alex Nagel in the end zone to virtually end the first half.

After kicker Jonathan Conklin booted the second half kickoff out of bounds, the Hodags began with great field position. A Reinthaler interception to linebacker Elijah Wickersheim at the Antigo 44-yard line helped spark some signs of optimism for the traveling Robin fans, but it would be just about the last.

In the ensuing drive, Antigo conceded downs after Nowinsky failed to pick up the first down at Rhinelander’s 27 yard line. A later, 44-yard Reinthaler strike, again to his favorite target White, saw the Hodags take the lead 13-8 early in fourth quarter.

After exchanging punts, the Hodags received the ball at the Antigo 41-yard line with 3:57 left in the final quarter of the game. Eating up close to two minutes of the clock, including a 3rd and 5, 23-yard completion to White, Reinthaler once again made Antigo fans heavy hearted. The junior QB passed for his third touchdown of the evening, this time finding junior Eric Tracy for an 11-yard score.

With time quickly expiring, a Libit interception with 1:30 left to play sealed Antigo’s fate against Rhinelander. Fans, players and coaches alike can all agree that Friday’s loss, with sheer optimism, did not decide the fate of the historic Bell Trpohy.

“We need to get better in all phases and play through adversity and with more energy,” Coach Weberpal said after the game.

The Red Robins move onward to take on Menominee, Mich. on the road Friday at 7 p.m.
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ANTIGO DAILY
JOURNAL
612 Superior Street
Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
MapOnUs Location: (local)

WEEKLY
JOURNAL
EXPRESS
612 Superior Street,
Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
MapOnUs Location: (local)

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