By Nick Beversdorf
Merrill football is definitely on the upswing as of late, as every successive game has seen a more focused, aggressive offense and more points scored. After the 40-20 win over Antigo and the 49-13 win over Ashland last week, Merrill dominated Mosinee in a whopping 70-24 victory. Merrill scored 10 total touchdowns all with the extra point.
Mosinee was first to get on the board with a 30-yard field goal at 7:20 in the first quarter, courtesy of Ryan Walsh. Merrill got their first touchdown of the night at 6:39 in the first with a Zach Mootz 60-yard touchdown run. Trey Seubert’s PAT was good. With 5:20 left, Hunter Hintze scored an 8-yard touchdown and again Seubert’s PAT was good. Merrill rounded out the first quarter with another touchdown at 2:04, courtesy of a Kade Bonnell 27-yard reception from Mootz. The PAT was good to set the score 21-3 end of the first quarter.
Things got off to a roaring start in the second quarter with Nevada Laabs scoring a touchdown off a 71-yard run. The PAT was good. Mosinee was able to counter somewhat with a Loukas Trzcinski 7-yard touchdown reception from Jace Baumann (halfback option pass). Brandon Bernarde’s PAT was good.
Nate Grefe ran in a touchdown from five yards out at 5:15 and Laabs punched in a 3-yard touchdown run at 1:45 (both with successful PATs), but Mosinee was able to squeeze in a touchdown at just four seconds left in the half with a Nick Bolanda 4-yard reception from Ben Vandehey with Bernarde’s PAT good. The score sat at 42-17 at the half.
The scoring slowed in the second half but Merrill had no plans of letting Mosinee off easily. With 8:05 left in the third, Braedon Dorn scored a touchdown off a three-yard run. The PAT was good. Mosinee scored their last touchdown of the night at 6:26 with a three-yard run courtesy of Parker Samples. The PAT was good.
With 2:56 left in the third, Laabs scored another touchdown, this time a 31-yard reception from Mootz. Seubert’s PAT was good.
At just nine seconds into the fourth, Mootz scored a touchdown off a 58-yard run. With just eight seconds left, Dan Duginski punched in a one-yard run to end the game. The PATs for both were good.
“This was probably our best game overall,” comments head coach Nick Sturm. “Mosinee played some pretty solid defense but we played and executed very well and we were very aggressive up front to match it.”
Again, the name of the game was rushing as Merrill accrued 521 rushing yards and 21 first downs compared to Mosinee’s 118 rushing yards and 12 first downs. Passing yards was significantly lower at 58 for Merrill and 71 for Mosinee.
Mootz and Laabs were the rushing stars of the night, each with two touchdowns and 183 and 211 yards respectively. Laabs also had a 31-yard touchdown reception along with Bonnell’s 27-yard touchdown reception. Kicker Seubert was again on fire, going 10 for 10 on PATs. The Bluejays did a good job defensively as well. They had 35 solo tackles – three for losses, eight assists and four sacks.
“We have been playing solid football these past few weeks,” adds Sturm. “The past three weeks we have been getting better and better. We will be playing Escanaba on Friday and they are a very good team so this match-up will be a very good test for us.”
Merrill football will host Escanaba (MI) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Jay Stadium.
MRL: 21 21 14 14-70
ASH: 3 14 7 0-24
Rushing: Laabs (15 att, 211 yds, 2 TD); Mootz (11 att, 183 yds, 2 TD); Grefe (13 att, 68 yds, 1TD); Duginski (5 att, 27 yds, 1 TD); Hintze (3 att, 11 yds, 1 TD); Dorn (1 att, 3 yds, 1 TD); Kobe Blake (3 att, 18 yds).
Passing: Mootz (2/2, 58 yds, 2 TD); Blake (0/1).
Receiving: Bonnell (1 rec, 27 yds, 1 TD); Laabs (1 rec, 29 yds, 1 TD).