By Jared Schmeltzer
The Bluejays traveled to Rhinelander Friday to take on the Hodags. It was a good win for the Bluejays as they dominated Rhinelander in a 41-21 victory.
Merrill got off to a fast start, scoring their first touchdown of the game five and a half minutes into the first quarter on a 20-yard run by Hunter Hintz. It didn’t take long for the Bluejays to add on to their lead, with a 29-yard passing touchdown from quarterback Zach Mootz to tight end Josiah Nohr with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter. With Merrill up 14-0, Rhinelander was able to get on the scoreboard with a 25-yard passing touchdown to cut the Bluejay lead to seven going into the second half.
A strong start to the second half gave Merrill the edge on their way to victory. Four minutes into the half, Mootz hooked up with Nohr again for an 11-yard touchdown pass to put the Bluejays up 20-7. Nevada Laabs added another touchdown to the Merrill lead, running for 56 yards on his way to the endzone. Rhinelander started the fourth quarter with a touchdown to pull within 26-14 with 11 minutes yet to play. Merrill would answer with a touchdown of their own on a 43-yard run by Mootz. The Bluejays would later add some insurance as Dominic Leistikow ran for his first varsity touchdown from four yards out to make it a 41-14 game. A late touchdown by Rhinelander on Merrill’s second unit made the score 41-21 with Merrill taking the win.
It was another great effort all around for Merrill, especially from quarterback Zach Mootz who had three total touchdowns, two throwing the ball and one doing it with his legs, pitching in 183 yards of total offense for the Bluejays. Nevada Laabs led the team in rushing for the game with 156 yards and a touchdown in 13 carries. Dominic Leistikow also had a solid day on the ground, totaling 77 rushing yards and a touchdown. Josiah Nohr was the big target for Mootz as he caught two touchdowns and had a total of 58 receiving yards. The Bluejays defense was solid as usual giving up only 272 yards of total offense and allowing only 11 first downs.
The Bluejays will be back at home this Friday as they take on conference foe Medford for Senior Night.