The Rhinelander High School football team closed their 2017 season on Friday night with a victory over Lakeland to earn the Northwoods Axe at Mike Webster Stadium. The Hodags defeated the Thunderbirds 49-34 in their second straight Great Northern Conference win on Friday night.
Senior quarterback Logan Freund led the way with six total touchdowns, as Rhinelander racked up 508 yards of offense on the night. Freund rushed for one touchdown and passed for five touchdowns to five different receivers. Brad Comer, Peyton Erikson, Reese Flores, Cole Spaulding, and Sam Tjugum also scored for RHS.
Not only did Rhinelander finish with 217 passing yards, they tallied 291 rushing yards. Drake Martin led the offense rushing with 210 yards on 34 carries and finished the season with over 1,000-yards on the ground.
The Thunderbirds took an early lead with 8:30 left in the opening quarter. Lakeland used 10 plays for 74 yards in their opening possession and was capped off by a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Carroll to Jake Rexroade. The Thunderbirds would take their only lead of the night, and was denied the two-point conversion attempt.
Rhinelander responded the next possession when Peyton Erikson had a 49-yard catch and run to spark the offense. Freund then found Erikson for an eight-yard touchdown pass with 2:39 left in the first. Joseph Schmitz added the extra point, and RHS would take a 7-6 lead and never looked back.
After a 3-and-out from Lakeland, the Hodags once again marched their way down the field. Freund found Spaulding for a 14-yard score with 7:18 left in the second quarter. Schmitz extra point was good to put RHS up 14-6.
The Thunderbirds still stuck around, and would tack on another touchdown with 2:52 left in the half on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Carroll to Ray Rentmeester. Again, Lakeland was unsuccessful on the two-point conversion attempt putting the Hodags up 14-12.
But the Hodags had plenty of time to march down the field and strike again. This time just 14 seconds before the break, Freund found Comer on a 20-yard strike and RHS would take a 21-12 lead at halftime.
The two teams would exchange touchdowns from there, starting with the Hodags scoring on their opening drive in the third quarter. Freund had the three-yard quarterback keep to cap off the drive. But Lakeland responded on a one-yard touchdown run from Tanner Nicklaus to bring Lakeland with ten at 28-18.
Midway through the third, after Rhinelander's defense denied Lakeland in the red zone, Freund slipped and fumbled the football on Lakeland's 42-yard line. The Thunderbirds recovered the ball on RHS's lone turnover, and Freund was slow to get up. But in his final high school game, not even a minor ankle injury would stop him from coming back in. Not only did he return, but the Hodags scored three big touchdowns in the final quarter.
The fourth quarter Rhinelander added three additional scores, but Lakeland kept things interesting and had two touchdowns of their own and converted on both two-point conversions.
Freund found Reese Flores open in the end zone on a 14-yard pass with 8:50 left in the game. And Freund found Sam Tjugum on play-action for a four-yard score with 5:49 left. And Martin capped off Rhinelander's scoring on the night with a 14-yard run. Schmitz was successful on all three final extra points.
Lakeland's Rentmeester scored on a 14-yard pass from Carroll. And Lakeland's final strike of the night was a five-yard run from Carroll. The Thunderbirds added four more points after converting their final two-point conversions.
But the final nail in the coffin came from the Hodags' defense with about a minute and a half left on the clock. Senior outside linebacker Matthias Schneider tipped a Lakeland pass, and fellow senior safety Reuben Guzik and was there to complete the interception.
After shaking hands, senior captain Colton Krueger took the honors of receiving the Axe from athletic director Brian Paulson and was followed by his teammates as they stormed the end zone.
Freund finished the night completing 12 of 18 passes for 217 yards and five touchdowns. He added another 70 yards on the ground and one additional score. Tjugum was Freund's leading receiving, catching five passes for 74 yards.
Martin also became the first 1,000-yard season Hodag rusher since 2008 (Austin Murphy) and finished with 210 yards rushing on 34 carries on the night.
Lakeland had 350 yards of offense on the night including 233-yards passing. Carroll accounted for four touchdowns in the loss. Rhinelander converted 13 of 15 third-down plays while the Thunderbirds went 4 of 8 on third downs.
RHS finished 3-6 overall and tied for fifth place in the GNC standings at 2-4. Lakeland finished last in the seven-team conference at 1-5.
It was Rhinelander's final game for the 17 seniors (Guzik, Flores, Comer, Freund, Tyler Olson, Kenny Baumgardner, Alex Monk, Spaulding, Schneider, Alec Kurtz, Krueger, Tyler Fredrick, Ryan Holly, Jared Fabich, Scott Fox, Justin Huber, and Schmitz). Despite losing a large senior class; RHS finished the season on a high note and won back-to-back GCN games proving the Hodags have plenty to look forward to in the future.
The Rhinelander High School girls' swim team cruised to their final Great Northern Conference dual victory on the road. The Hodags downed Colby/Abbotsford 121-49 on Thursday and won all 11 events on the evening.
RHS won all three relays on the night and had five swimmers earn individual wins as well. Freshmen Makenna Winnicki and Lisa Kennedy as well as junior Grace Heck, and each recorded a pair of individual wins to help lead the Hodags.
In the opening 200 medley relay, Rhinelander went 1-2 and was led by the team of Maddie Quinn, Jenna Hawley, Grace Heck, and Rachel Uhlarik (2 minutes, 7.07 seconds). Runner-up were teammates Emily McFarland, Marissa Martin, Marisa McGuire, and Ella Schiek (2:13.07).
Rhinelander also closed the night going 1-2 in the 400-freestyle relay as well. The Hodag team of Taylor Macak, Hawley, Carly Seidl, and Heck earned first with a time of 4:11.36. RHS team of Kennedy, McFarland, Schiek, and Winnicki were a close runner-up clocking in at 4:14.48.
In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the Hodags' were only 0.07 from another 1-2 finish. But Colby/Abby's A team just barely beat Rhinelander's B relay to the wall for second place. The winning time of 1:51.81 came from the Hodag team of Martin, Kennedy, McGuire, and Winnicki. Seidl, Uhlarik, Quinn, and Macak recorded third place at 1:54.96.
Kennedy won the 200 and 500-yard freestyle events on the night. She edged Colby/Abby’s Heather Lynn and clocked in with the winning time of 2:16.67. And in the 500, Kennedy beat out teammate Quinn by 0.76 seconds with the time of 6:08.73.
In the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley, Winnicki finished first with her biggest competition proving to be her own teammates. In the 100-fly she finished at 1:07.31, and Macak earned second at 1:12.69. While in the IM, Winnicki had the winning time of 2:23.15 to beat out McGuire (2:35.34).
Heck won the 50-yard freestyle as well as the 100-yard backstroke for RHS. She clocked in the 50-free at 27.46 seconds and teammate Macak was runner-up at 28.18. And in the 100-back Heck once again beat out her own teammate, this time Schiek and won at 1:10.38.
Rhinelander's two remaining individual wins went to McGuire and Martin. In the 100-freestyle McGuire edged teammate Seidl (1:02.12) and cracked the minute mark with a winning time of 59.73. And in the 100-breast Martin beat Hawley to the wall by 0.89 seconds with a winning time of 1:17.33.
The Hodags finished 5-1 in the GNC dual portion of their schedule, and was only behind Tomahawk who went undefeated at 6-0. Although only the GNC meet will determine the final conference standings. The GNC meet was originally scheduled to be held at Ladysmith/Bruce/Flambeau but now will be held at UW-Stevens Point Aquatics Center on Friday, October 27th.
RHS will have one final tune-up before the conference showdown when they travel to Wausau to take part in a non-conference triangular. The Hodags will face Chippewa Falls and Wausau East Thursday at Horace Mann Middle School.
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