By Nick Beversdorf
It was a tough night for Merrill football as they were defeated by Medford in a 18-0 shutout. While the Merrill defense was able to stall many Medford drives and potential scoring opportunities, the offense was unable to capitalize, leaving Medford victorious with their two touchdowns and two field goals.
Things got off to the worst possible start for Merrill as Medford’s Conrad Bolz scored on a 77-yard run on the first offensive drive of the game. The PAT was no good, however, leaving the score at 6-0.
Merrill did an excellent job of holding the Medford offense at bay until 1:09 left in the first quarter when Medford’s Preston Carlson hit a 22-yard field goal.
The second quarter played out much the same as the first, minus a touchdown. Both teams’ defenses held the other at bay, neither getting close enough for a field goal, except for one instance when Medford made it precipitously close to scoring a touchdown, but an interception courtesy of Ty Belfiori in Medford’s red zone put an instant stop to it.
Unfortunately, with nine seconds left in the first half, Medford gained enough yardage to score another field goal; a 27-yarder courtesy of Preston Carlson.
The third quarter saw no points, however Merrill came painfully close to scoring a touchdown. At first and goal, each rushing play brought them a little closer, but they couldn’t punch in those last few inches, failing a fourth down conversion. Merrill again came very close to scoring as they nearly tackled a Medford running back in the end zone. However, he was able to lunge forward and fall on the one-yard line, avoiding a safety.
At just 1:26, Medford got their last touchdown off an 18-yard run from Conrad Bolz. Again, the PAT was no good.
“Our defense played very well, we were mostly solid against their offense,” comments head coach Nick Sturm. “But we struggled offensively. We couldn’t execute in the red zone and there were too many turnovers and we need to work on ball security. Medford’s a very good team and they took advantage of our mistakes.”
Rushing was the method of offensive movement for Merrill with 230 rushing yards and 0 passing yards for a total of 15 first downs. Medford had 253 rushing yards and 85 passing yards for a total of 11 first downs. The Merrill defense had 37 tackles, three assists, one interception, four passes batted down and one blocked kick.
“We have a lot of work to do before we face Antigo,” adds Sturm. “We, as a coaching staff, need to instill a sense of discipline in these kids. Antigo is a very disciplined team and we need to start playing playing better if we want to beat them on Saturday.”
It was also Parent’s Night, with the parents and family members of the team members and coaching staff recognized before the game.
Merrill football will travel to Antigo on Saturday for Antigo’s homecoming game, kickoff at 1 p.m.
MED: 9 3 0 6-18
MRL: 0 0 0 0-0
Rushing: Nevada Laabs (15 ATT, 91 yds); Braedon Dorn (10 ATT, 56 yds); Nate Grefe (9 ATT, 41 yds), Zach Mootz (19 ATT, 22 yds); Hunter Hintze (4 ATT, 19 yds); Josiah Nohr (1 ATT, 1 yd).
Interceptions: Belfiori (1 INT, 7 yds).
Punting: Nohr (2, 84 yds, 42 avg); Mootz (1, 39 yds, 39 avg).