Blowout win over T-Birds sets up Jays’ playoff start
The Bluejay football team cruised past Lakeland 42-6 on Friday night to secure a 5-1 mark in the GNC Football Conference and a 6-3 record overall for the regular season.
Surprisingly, that record is the worst in Merrill’s 8-team WIAA playoff bracket, meaning the Jays will visit fourth-ranked Ashwaubenon (8-0, 9-0) on Friday night. The #4, #5 (Hortonville) and #6 (Menomonie) teams hail from the bracket. Merrill already played Menomonie in a non-conference tilt, losing 23-0 back on Aug. 29.
Every other bracket has at least two teams with a 5-4 record or worse, and one has a pair of 5-4 squads and a 3-5 team.
But the Jays’ 6-3 mark got them an eighth seed and trip to #1 Ashwaubenon (8-0, 9-0).
“We were placed by the WIAA in a tough bracket,” MHS coach Nick Sturm said. “A lot of 6-3 teams are #4 or #5. There are some very odd pairing match-ups.
“That 6-3 is pretty good. Obviously we like to have that Medford game back, but overall we played very good in conference.”
The Bluejays shut out Lakeland until the final minute of the game, while building a 20-0 halftime lead and a 27-0 by the middle of the fourth quarter before giving way to the second string.
Chaz Mootz hit Alex Zettler for a 26-yard scoring strike with 2:20 left, then Mootz dashed 21 yards for the TD just four clicks later, capitalizing on Lucas Lee’s fumble recovery from the kickoff between the tallies.
Merrill pounded Alex Klug at Lakeland much of the game, to the tune of 108 yards on 25 carries with two scores. His six-yard blast converted a Dustin Dengel
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