HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Hodags down Thunderbirds, take ‘Northwoods Axe’
RHS ends season with two-game GNC winning streak
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
The Rhinelander High School varsity football team closed out the 2017 season on a winning note at home Friday with a 49-34 Great Northern Conference victory over Lakeland Union High School.
In addition to ending the year on a two-game conference winning streak after 23 consecutive GNC losses dating back to 2013, the Hodags also captured the “Northwoods Axe,” the trophy up for grabs in the annual football game against the Thunderbirds.
LUHS led early by scoring the first touchdown with 8:30 left in the opening quarter on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Carroll to Jake Rexroade. The Thunderbirds’ lead remained at 6-0 after the two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
RHS got on the scoreboard with 2:39 to play in the first quarter on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Logan Freund to Peyton Erikson. Joseph Schmitz added the extra point to give the Hodags a 7-6 lead.
That was the last time the lead changed hands as RHS tallied its second touchdown of the night with 7:18 left before halftime on a 14-yard scoring strike from Freund to Cole Spaulding. Schmitz added the extra point to extend the lead to 14-6.
LUHS scored again with 2:52 remaining in the first half on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Carroll to Ray Rentmeester. The Thunderbirds continue to trail by two points after the two-point conversion was again unsuccessful.
The Hodags scored their final touchdown of the half with 14 seconds left before intermission on a 20-yard scoring strike from Freund to Brad Comer. Schmitz made the extra point for a 21-12 halftime lead.
The two teams exchanged third-quarter touchdowns. Freund ran into the end zone from 3 yards away, followed by a Schmitz extra point, before a 1-yard touchdown run by LUHS’s Tanner Nicklaus and another unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt, giving RHS a 28-18 advantage going into the final 12 minutes.
The fourth quarter featured five touchdowns, three by the Hodags and two from the Thunderbirds, with scoring plays alternating between the two teams.
Freund tallied two more touchdown passes, one of 14 yards to Reese Flores and another of 4 yards to Sam Tjugum, followed by RHS’s final touchdown on a 14-yard run by Drake Martin. Schmitz was successful on all three extra points.
LUHS scored its final two touchdowns on a 14-yard pass from Carroll to Rentmeester and 5-yard run by Carroll. The Thunderbirds added four more points on two successful two-point conversions.
For the game, the Hodags tallied 506 yards in total offense with 300 yards rushing and 206 yards passing. Martin accounted for 210 yards rushing on 35 carries with a touchdown. Freund completed 11-17 passes for 195 yards with five touchdowns thrown to five different receivers.
RHS, which tied for fifth in the seven-team GNC, ended the season 2-4 in conference play and 3-6 overall. LUHS, which ended up at the bottom of the conference standings, finished 1-5 in the GNC and 2-7 overall. This year’s conference title went to Antigo at 6-0 in the GNC and 8-1 overall going into the WIAA playoffs.
Hodags 49, LUHS 34
LUHS 6 6 6 16 – 34
Hodags 7 14 7 21 – 49