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Red Robin football team closes regular season with rival Merrill as playoffs loom, honor senior members
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Momentum can be a funny thing in sports. Many times in postseason play, its not the best regular season team that advances, its the team that gets hot at the right time.

The Antigo Red Robins football team is red hot, winners of six in a row, and will keep all the momentum in its corner, when it closes out the regular season Friday, with a home contest against the Merrill Blue Jays.

Momentum is so important, Head Coach Tom Schofield said. The playoffs really started for us last week, the goal will be to go as deep as we can.

When the season began, most pundits pointed to this contest as the essential Great Northern Conference championship game. Both Antigo and Merrill were expected to roll through their GNC games, setting up a winner-take-all finale. However, the Bluejays did not live up to their end of the bargain, as they suffered a shocking 16-12 defeat at Ashland on Sept. 15, and another upset at home, beaten by Medford 28-7 a week ago.

The Medford loss combined with Antigo’s win at Mosinee, clinched the Robins first outright conference title since 2010. The Robins are 7-1 overall, their only loss came in week two, as Stratford handed Antigo a non-conference defeat, 28-0. Since then, Antigo has known nothing but victory, although they received stiff challenges from both Medford and Mosinee, defeating the Raiders 7-0 and the Indians 20-14.

Merrill is playoff eligible at 3-2 in conference and 4-4 overall. While likely headed to the postseason regardless, a win would erase any doubt for the Bluejays.

Outside of momentum, plenty will still be on the line Friday in one of the better GNC rivalries, the War on 64 as it come to be known has produced plenty of memorable games, but four of the last five times, the outcome has been in favor of the Blue Jays, including a 40-20 drubbing a season ago on a Saturday in which Antigo celebrated the 40th anniversary of its first state championship team.

Last year we had some mental breakdowns and turnovers that cost us, Schofield noted. We have stressed focusing on trusting each other to perform their assignment on the field.

The Robins want not only payback, but an 8-1 finish would assure higher playoff seeding and perhaps give them the opportunity to play on its home field for up to two postseason games.

Containing Merrill starts with the quarterback position, where senior leader Zach Mootz has thrown for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns for a 103.8 QB rating, including a GNC best 114.9 in conference games. Mootz is a threat on the ground as well, running for 355 yards and five scores.

Jared Olhoff is the Jays leading receiver with 12 catches for 306 yards and two touchdowns for a 25.5 yard per catch average. Josiah Nohr is capable of big plays in the pass game as well, despite just eight receptions, half are for touchdowns for a 24.6 per catch average.

Senior Nevada Laabs leads a more than capable run game for Merrill as well. He is fifth in the conference in rushing with 475 yards, and has 577 overall for a 7.8 yard per carry average.

Laabs is active on the defensive side as well, leading Merrill with 40 tackles, including three for losses.

Overall, Merrill is an experienced veteran group, that will no doubt come to play Friday. The Bluejays offense is currently ranked number one in the Great Northern, while Antigo is third.

The Robins offense of course revolves around the top rush game in the GNC. Jericho Kelly, Dominic Smith, Adam Schmidt, Korbin Krueger, Wade Farmer and quarterback Matt Winter all are more than capable runners, and with all likely to see carries, its makes the Robins an extremely hard team to defend.

Kelly leads the group with 808 yards rushing, a per carry average of 7.8 with 11 touchdowns. Smith has racked up 459 yards.

Defensive leaders entering week nine for Antigo includes C.J Levis with 88 tackles on the year, including 52 solo. Casey Lucas has four and a half sacks and eight tackles for losses, while Krueger has three interceptions.

When everyone does their job and we work together as a team in all aspects of the game, good things will happen Friday night. Schofield added.

Friday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The playoff field of 224 teams, broken into seven divisions will be released at midnight Friday, with the brackets released sometime late Saturday. Antigo will likely land in division three.
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Red Robin football team closes regular season with rival Merrill as playoffs loom, honor senior members
space
Momentum can be a funny thing in sports. Many times in postseason play, its not the best regular season team that advances, its the team that gets hot at the right time.

The Antigo Red Robins football team is red hot, winners of six in a row, and will keep all the momentum in its corner, when it closes out the regular season Friday, with a home contest against the Merrill Blue Jays.

Momentum is so important, Head Coach Tom Schofield said. The playoffs really started for us last week, the goal will be to go as deep as we can.

When the season began, most pundits pointed to this contest as the essential Great Northern Conference championship game. Both Antigo and Merrill were expected to roll through their GNC games, setting up a winner-take-all finale. However, the Bluejays did not live up to their end of the bargain, as they suffered a shocking 16-12 defeat at Ashland on Sept. 15, and another upset at home, beaten by Medford 28-7 a week ago.

The Medford loss combined with Antigo’s win at Mosinee, clinched the Robins first outright conference title since 2010. The Robins are 7-1 overall, their only loss came in week two, as Stratford handed Antigo a non-conference defeat, 28-0. Since then, Antigo has known nothing but victory, although they received stiff challenges from both Medford and Mosinee, defeating the Raiders 7-0 and the Indians 20-14.

Merrill is playoff eligible at 3-2 in conference and 4-4 overall. While likely headed to the postseason regardless, a win would erase any doubt for the Bluejays.

Outside of momentum, plenty will still be on the line Friday in one of the better GNC rivalries, the War on 64 as it come to be known has produced plenty of memorable games, but four of the last five times, the outcome has been in favor of the Blue Jays, including a 40-20 drubbing a season ago on a Saturday in which Antigo celebrated the 40th anniversary of its first state championship team.

Last year we had some mental breakdowns and turnovers that cost us, Schofield noted. We have stressed focusing on trusting each other to perform their assignment on the field.

The Robins want not only payback, but an 8-1 finish would assure higher playoff seeding and perhaps give them the opportunity to play on its home field for up to two postseason games.

Containing Merrill starts with the quarterback position, where senior leader Zach Mootz has thrown for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns for a 103.8 QB rating, including a GNC best 114.9 in conference games. Mootz is a threat on the ground as well, running for 355 yards and five scores.

Jared Olhoff is the Jays leading receiver with 12 catches for 306 yards and two touchdowns for a 25.5 yard per catch average. Josiah Nohr is capable of big plays in the pass game as well, despite just eight receptions, half are for touchdowns for a 24.6 per catch average.

Senior Nevada Laabs leads a more than capable run game for Merrill as well. He is fifth in the conference in rushing with 475 yards, and has 577 overall for a 7.8 yard per carry average.

Laabs is active on the defensive side as well, leading Merrill with 40 tackles, including three for losses.

Overall, Merrill is an experienced veteran group, that will no doubt come to play Friday. The Bluejays offense is currently ranked number one in the Great Northern, while Antigo is third.

The Robins offense of course revolves around the top rush game in the GNC. Jericho Kelly, Dominic Smith, Adam Schmidt, Korbin Krueger, Wade Farmer and quarterback Matt Winter all are more than capable runners, and with all likely to see carries, its makes the Robins an extremely hard team to defend.

Kelly leads the group with 808 yards rushing, a per carry average of 7.8 with 11 touchdowns. Smith has racked up 459 yards.

Defensive leaders entering week nine for Antigo includes C.J Levis with 88 tackles on the year, including 52 solo. Casey Lucas has four and a half sacks and eight tackles for losses, while Krueger has three interceptions.

When everyone does their job and we work together as a team in all aspects of the game, good things will happen Friday night. Schofield added.

Friday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The playoff field of 224 teams, broken into seven divisions will be released at midnight Friday, with the brackets released sometime late Saturday. Antigo will likely land in division three.
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ANTIGO DAILY
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Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
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JOURNAL
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Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
MapOnUs Location: (local)

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