Bluejays set to take on Hodags at Homecoming
On Saturday, Sept. 29, the Merrill Homecoming crowd will be treated to a battle of Great Northern Conference rivals as the Rhinelander Hodags come to crash the Bluejays’ party.
The Hodags football team is currently tied with the Merrill Bluejays at 0-2 in conference play and 1-4 overall. The Hodags’ lone win on the season came against Prescott in their first game of the year. The Hodags would then go on to lose to Tomahawk by a score of 7-14. Rhinelander would then lose to Wausau East by a score of 12-13, who as of now is the only team the Bluejays have been able to defeat.
In conference play the Hodags started off with a 36-7 loss to Medford, and would then lose to Antigo the next week by a score of 13-24. Last Friday the Hodags faced off against Mosinee and would lose big, with a final score of 42-21.
The Jays’ season started off tough with a 34-3 loss to defending Division 5 state champions, Amherst. Merrill would then have to take a 21-14 loss against Kewaskum in a game that was cut short due to weather. Merrill would then face Mosinee and fall by a final score of 20-6.
The Jays would find a win in their fourth game, going up against Wausau East and taking the 26-14 victory. The next week Merrill faced off against the Great Northern Conference leading Ashland Oredockers, and would fall short in a 32-20 game. Last Friday Merrill would lose thier third conference game of the year, this time to Lakeland by a score of 30-18.
The Bluejays offense is led by fullback Dominic Leistikow, who leads he team in rushing yards with 502 on the season. Quarterback Quinn Steckbauer is a close second with 440 yards on the ground. The Merrill defense is led by a big three up front in defensive linemen Kole Meyer and Zach Iribarren, who each have 22 tackles on the season, along with inside linebacker Jackson Vander Velde who leads the team in tackles with 27. In addition to Meyer’s 22 tackles, he leads the team in quarterback sacks with five and a half on the year.
The Rhinelander team is led by running back Drake Martin who has 517 yards this season. Quarterback Brock Lieder has over 300 yards in the air on the year as well as 174 yards running. The Hodags leading receiver Peyton Erikson, has 87 yards through the air, and also plays a big role on defense for Rhinelander as he has led the Hodags in tackles in multiple games and has one interception so far on the season.
Both Merrill and Rhinelander will come into Saturday’s game with a 1-5 record, with each team looking to get their first conference win of the season.