The Bluejay football team had finding-the-handle-difficulties for the second consecutive game and it cost a 31-7 loss in Friday’s road game in Superior.
Merrill fumbled six times in the game –although losing just one – to go with several penalties.
“They are a good football team and we just made too many mistakes to come out on top,” Merrill coach Nick Sturm said. “I think the kids felt after the game that it should have been a lot closer. It was one of those games with multiple mental mistakes. It was a lot more mental than them physically beating us.
“We didn’t lose the ball on most of those fumbles, but those are lost plays, lost opportunities. We had a bunch of penalties early that stymied drives. It was just not a sharp game.”
The Jays were able to pound out 258 yards on the ground while passing for just 12. The MHS defense held the Spartans to just 110 rushing yards, but was gashed for 267 passing yards, including three long scoring strikes. The long passes – one per quarter for the first three frames – covered 46, 55 and 88 yards and powered Superior to a 24-0 lead with 1:55 left in the third. 
“Defensively, other than a few big plays, we played good defense,” Sturm said. “Offensively, we were moving the ball. We just didn’t play up to our ability level.”
Superior ran for a five-yard score to boost the overall tally to 31-0 with 7:25 remaining in the fourth. Merrill answered with a drive capped by a 4-yard run from Tyler Butler with 5:03 to go. Trey Stevenson kicked the extra point.
Leading rushers for the Jays included Mason Reinhardt (16-69), Wyatt Strombom (18-68), Lucas Lee (7-36), Butler (3-50), Drew Hoff (14-28) and Austin Reissmann (1-7). Hoff completed 3-of-8 passes for 12 yards, to Jake Anderson (2-10) and Reinhardt (1-2).
The teams did find a hole in the showers that blanketed most of Wisconsin.
“The turf was wet but it wasn’t raining like it was in the rest of the state,” Strum said. “It had rained all day, let up during the game, and ten minutes out of Superior on the trip home it was pouring all over again.”
Friday’s game in Rhinelander has been shifted to a 5:00 p.m. start, due to lighting problems. The Hodags topped Antigo 19-8 in a non-conference precursor to their real game, and were embroiled in a 7-7 game with Wittenberg on Friday when it was suspended due to weather.