Coaches: Head coach Nick Sturm (6 years), Assistant Coaches Rob Klug (13 years), Greg Schofield (32 years), Greg Thorson (7 years), Jon Tomski (6 years), Mark Weix (28 years), Bill Hauswirth (first year) and Bryan Zoromski (first year).
2016 Record: 6-3
2016 Post Season: Lost to Rice Lake 41-0.
Key Returners: Seniors: Zack Mootz (QB), Nevada Laabs (RB,) Riley Young (OL), Adam Detert (OL), Noah Bolling (DL), Cade Rajek (LB), Issac Meyer (LB), Nate Grefe (RB).
Key Losses: Jon Gruetzmacher (OL), Ben Tabor (WR/DB), Ty Belfiori (DB), Jake Collinsworth (LB/RB).
Key Newcomers: A few new sophomore offensive lineman and James Pawlicki (DL).
Coach Sturm Quotable: “The injury to Jake Collinsworth was probably the lowest point of last season, especially since we were expecting such a big year out of Jake, but I think that brought us to our high point because the kids really rallied and we found some leaders stepping up that performed at a high level and got better every week. We faced adversity and got better from it.
“We have a good group of kids returning, seven starters on both sides of the ball returning. It’s going to come down to our guys focusing on the little things that separate good teams from average teams. Being very detail oriented in how we prepare will win us football games. Our emphasis this year is to keep building mental and physical toughness.
“The tradition rivals will still be there, Antigo, Medford, I think Mosinee will be improved this year. I think we have a very balanced conference and anyone can beat anyone each week, we can’t take anyone lightly.
“The group of kids we have are tremendous young men who have worked very hard this year and will represent the Merrill community very well not only on the football field but also in the classroom. We have really enjoyed working with them, they are very coachable young men who desire to be their best.”
The guys blew out Mosinee in their GNC opener last night 35-7, at Jay Stadium. Check back Monday for a recap of Friday night’s contest as well as a few thoughts from coach Sturm.