Three Merrill Varsity Football players win Quarterback Challenge at Lambeau Field
TINA L. SCOTT
On Sunday, Nov. 15, the Green Bay Packers beat the Seattle Seahawks 17-0 at Lambeau Field, and the hometown crowd went wild. But for three Merrill High School (MHS) students, the highlight of that win may have been slightly eclipsed by their own victory winning the Quarterback Challenge.
The High School Quarterback Challenge at Lambeau Field began in 2015 and is an on-field competition between two Wisconsin high schools held during halftime. Each high school’s quarterback and two wide receivers compete in a test of their passing and catching skills. The schools alternate, and each of the school’s two wide receivers has one opportunity to catch a pass from their respective quarterback.
“I received an email from the Packers’ front office saying Merrill and Antigo have been selected to compete in the Halftime Quarterback Challenge at Lambeau Field,” said Merrill Varsity Football Head Coach Jason Wadzinski. It doesn’t get much better than that: Rival teams [the “War on 64”] pitting off against one another for bragging rights at Lambeau Field in front of a Packers’ hometown crowd. That sealed the deal and the competitors and their cheering sections were headed to Green Bay for a Packer game!
“Each team gets two throws from the 20-yard line to different receivers,” Wadzinski explained. “The longest completed pass wins the challenge.”
He replayed Sunday’s halftime action: “Quarterback Brian Ball threw passes to Cayden Diels and Bailey Turenne. Antigo threw first, and the pass fell incomplete. Brian threw to Cayden Diels then, and that ball, too, was off the mark and fell incomplete. Antigo threw next and completed a 30-yard pass to take the lead. Brian then completed a 34-yard pass to Bailey Turenne for the win!”
Merrill quarterback Brian Ball described the experience of walking onto Lambeau Field in front of a packed stadium as “unreal.”
“I was in awe as I walked onto the field with all of the lights and cameras facing me,” he said. “Especially being on the big jumbotrons, everything moved pretty fast. The challenge was done at halftime in front of over 78,000 people.”
“It felt amazing to win in front of all of those people while representing Merrill,” Ball said. “It was an honor for me, Cayden, Bailey, and Coach Wadzinski to go to the game and represent Merrill as a whole.”
“I want to thank the Merrill community for supporting Merrill Football and other Merrill athletics,” he added.
“There was no award per se, but the chance to compete at Lambeau was rewarding enough,” Wadzinski said.
“Being able to step onto Lambeau Field with snow coming down, and the lights, in front of almost 80,000 fans, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m incredibly proud of our boys and their composure throughout the entire event. It was a memorable moment, one none of us will forget for a long time,” Wadzinski said.
It was also a fine, proud moment for the families of the three Merrill football players who made the trip to see their boys compete and the other Assistant Coaches who got tickets to the game to witness the Merrill Bluejays’ victory over the Red Robins in this special competition.
Go, Bluejays! And go, Packers!