Bluejay Football falls to Red Robins in OT
On Friday, Oct. 23, the Bluejay varsity football team squared off with the Antigo Red Robins in a cold, breezy contest at Jay Stadium. In the wake of a toe-to-toe fight to the finish, the Red Robins would come out on top in overtime; 20-12.
Merrill would be the first to cross the end zone early in the second-quarter on the heels of a 12-yard run from senior running back Nik Zastrow. The Red Robins would counter a short time later on a 3-yard scoring run. Failed extra point attempts by both sides would send the teams into the half, deadlocked at 6. The ‘Jays would be the first to score again after the half, when senior running back Eddie Collinsworth snapped off a 35-yard run. Antigo would answer later in the third, on a 4-yard TD run. Failed attempts at extra points and a fourth quarter deadlocked at 12, would send the game into overtime.
Following a Bluejay defensive stand on the first play in extra time, Antigo broke off a 24-yard scoring run to the end zone. A successful two-point conversion left the Jays to answer the call. Unfortunately a failed attempt on 4th and short would send the Red Robins home with the win.
“We had some opportunities which we let slip through our fingertips,” comments head coach Rob Klug.
“I thought we had a good chance going into overtime. We were hoping to win the toss and come out on defense, hold them and then take it in. Unfortunately, that wasn’t how things played out. We brought some pressure, but they found a crease in our defense and took advantage of it. It was one of those situations where they had a play to counter what we were trying to do, we got out of position and they made us pay for it. When we had our opportunity to score, we came up short on 4th down on their five-yard line. Offensively, the Jays rolled up 235 yards of total offense; 223 coming on the ground. Collinsworth accounted for a vast majority of those yards, pounding it out for 104 yards on 17 carries. Junior quarterback Caden Diels delivered 12 yards through the air (3/6) and piled up another 45 yards on the ground. Timmy Handlin garnered another 45 yards on the ground, along with Zastrow (29 yards.)
“Eddie took the necessary time he needed to be ready and come back from injury, it was great to have him back,” Klug adds.
“We needed a spark Friday night to get things going and he gave us that spark.”
Defensively, the Red Robins were held to 302 yards of total offense.
Junior safety AJ Vogel paced the Merrill defensive effort with 8 solo tackles and 2 assists. Defensive lineman Wyatt Bathke enjoyed a solid night with 5 solo tackles and 3 assists, along with linebacker Mason Vandervelde (6 tk, 2 ast.)
“We mixed things up on defense based on Antigo’s tendencies,” Klug adds.
“We brought AJ up closer from his safety spot to more of an inside linebacker role and he did very well. We moved Wyatt around a lot as well. They created a lot of problems for the Antigo offense, getting penetration and making plays laterally. Mason has been very solid for us all year. He makes plays for us, but goes about it quietly. Zach Kriegel (3 tk, 2 ast, TFL) played the entire game for us on both sides of the ball, and did very well. Our guys fought hard.”
Friday night, the guys will hit the road to Mosinee High School for a bout with the Indians. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.