The Bluejay football team celebrated an easy 62-0 victory over Ashland in Saturday’s Homecoming game, building a huge 48-0 lead with a full 9-1/2 minutes left in the first half.
Merrill scored twice in a span of six seconds at the end of the first quarter, and racked up three touchdowns in 1:11 and four in less than 3-1/2 minutes. The Jays recovered the kick-off after a five-yard Mason Reinhardt run, and Chaz Mootz hit Jake Anderson for a perfect 36-yard strike into the end zone on the first play from scrimmage. Dustin Dengel returned a partially blocked punt for a TD and Mootz hit Anderson for a 10-yard score.
When Lucas Lee plunged into the end zone from four yards out with 4:55 left to intermission, Merrill led 55-0.
The biggest question going through the minds of the fans in packed house was ‘Why doesn’t the running clock start before the second half?’ The Marching Jays and dance squad were in bigger danger of losing that the football team. (The band came through with flying colors and the dance squad girls scored a stunning upset, continuing their routine flawlessly despite losing their music early in their production.)
The game was so lopsided that Ashland didn’t cross midfield until roughly one minute remained on the racing clock, and it took a pass interference penalty on third-and-20 to do it.
“The kids played well again,” MHS coach Nick Sturm said of the Jays’ fourth consecutive win. ”What impressed me is the kids didn’t let the festivities on Homecoming change their concentration. We came out and executed right away.
“It was a good opportunity to get a lot of kids in and playing. Some kids really showed well.”
The defense held the Oredockers to minimal offense.
“They shut ‘em down,” Sturm said. “We knew pretty well where they were at and what they were going to do. When you have a group of good athletes that execute when they’re supposed to and they do it consistently, you’re going to be all right.”
Mason Reinhardt scored a one-yard touchdown a play after quarterback Drew Hoff left the game with a shoulder injury suffered on a 24-yard scamper. Third-string QB R.T. Hartson threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Scott Wallace early in the third quarter to reach 62-0, and a late interception by Brian Timm sealed the shut-out.
The team will have to shift gears dramatically for Friday’s game in Mosinee between the two remaining undefeated GNC Football Conference teams. Merrill boasts a 4-0 mark (5-1 overall), and Mosinee is 3-0 (4-1 overall after its game with Auburndale was cancelled this week).
“The difference is going to be huge,” Sturm said. “The last couple of weeks we’ve blown teams out, our starters out at the half. It won’t be that way anymore. It’s going to be full-bore, four-quarters football playing Mosinee and then West DePere.”