Robins set for home opener Friday at Schofield Stadium, host Oredockers|
The Red Robins must rebound from back-to-back defeats in order to begin Great Northern Conference play on a positive note. Facing Ashland at home on Friday evening, Antigo has its fair share of work cut out for themselves.
“We need to improve in all areas (as) we expect to see a balanced offense against Ashland,” Coach Matt Weberpal said Wednesday.
Antigo hosts the Ashland Oredockers, a team that won its first game in nearly two years this past Friday, 20-0 over Oconto Falls. The Oredockers are 1-1 overall this season and begin its conference schedule in the same manner as the Robins, the two teams having met for the past three seasons now with Antigo winning all three contests. Since 2011, the Robins have outscored the Oredockers 153-36 in their three meetings.
The Robins are coming off of an especially disastrous Week 2 performance against Menominee, a game they lost 56-0 while managing to put up just 49 yards worth of total offense. Quarterback Tony Libit was consistently pressured, finishing his day 4-9 for 33 yards.
Antigo’s rushing attack was stopped in its tracks as Max Nowinsky was sidelined with an injury. Antigo carried the ball 25 times against the Maroons last Friday, producing only 16 yards for an average of 0.6 yards per carry. Nowinsky, who managed 103 yards rushing against the Hodags in Week 1, is projected to return in a couple weeks.
Changes on defense are a necessity. Antigo has allowed on average 313 yards per game this season, including a Maroons’ rushing offensive orchestrated by QB Justin Brilinski last week. Menominee’s senior play caller rushed for 152 yards and four touchdowns – in the first half alone. Brilinski followed suit with an 80-yard keeper for a TD to begin the second half, putting Antigo’s hopes for an epic comeback away for the evening.
The Maroons ended their night with more touchdowns than the Robins had first downs (2). Defensively, Antigo has allowed teams to gain 5.4 yards per carry and just over seven yards per reception this season. On the other side of the ball, the Robins are managing only 1.91 yards per rush themselves, while 2.9 yards per reception, two interceptions and zero touchdowns has helped Libit garner a passer rating of 35.97.
Moving into the third week of the season, the Oredockers bring a different look to the field that the Robins have not encountered yet this year. Utilizing a two-quarterback rotation, Ashland’s Brendan Carter and Eric Yachinich each embody two entirely different skill sets behind center.
When asked about coaching defensively against two signal callers, Coach Weberpal said, “They both have tendencies we’re preparing for.”
Carter is a more traditional pocket passer and has completed 11 of his 15 pass attempts in 2014 thus far for 126 yards and a touchdown, while also being responsible for one interception. Carter’s immobility is demonstrated by his four rushing attempts this season for -10 yards.
Yachinich is a more mobile, running-threat quarterback, and took the majority of the snaps for the Oredockers in 2013 (starting five games). Yachinich is 4-14 passing on the year for 92 yards, a touchdown and two picks but has also rushed six times for 78 yards (while also losing two fumbles).
Ben Cashman returns as Ashland’s featured running back, who managed 62 yards against the Robins last season in Antigo’s 43-8 dissection of the Oredockers on their home turf. Cashman currently has 85 yards on the year (averaging 2.9 yards per carry) and one rushing TD.
While the bulk of the Robins’ starting lineup from last season’s monstrous win over Ashland have all went onward from Antigo, fans should be reminded that last season’s junior QB Libit threw his only pass of the 2013 season, a 23-yard TD reception for current running back and wide receiver Aeric Berner, in the win against the Oredockers.
Kick off is set for 7 p.m. at Schofield Stadium.
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