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 boys' soccer team rallied back late against Medford on Thursday night to earn the win and finish with a perfect 10-0 record in the Great Northern Conference. The Hodags scored back-to-back goals in the final 18 minutes of the match to make their way back and earn the 2-1 win at Mike Webster Stadium on senior night.
Despite Rhinelander controlling possession for a majority of the match and having several quality looks on frame, the Raiders got on board first. It was not until the 58th minute that Medford would score on a free kick.
After a Hodag foul just outside the 18-yard box, the Raiders' Sam Hallgren lined up as if he were taking the kick, but purposely missed with teammate Armin Kliewe behind him who took the shot. The play worked, as the ball stayed low and went passed Rhinelander's wall and just passed keeper Josh Randolph inside the right post and Medford would take a 1-0 lead.
As clock continued to dwindle down, the Hodags turned up the offensive pressure and had several more looks on goal. It wasn't until the 72nd when Freddy Wisner took a corner kick for RHS. The well-placed ball went just outside the goal area. Richie Triplett finished the play to even the score out 1-1 and gave the Hodags the spark they needed to finish the contest.
Rhinelander continued the offensive pressure, but after missing a few shots that sailed over the cross bar and wide, the Hodags capitalized on the game-winning goal in the 88th minute. Wisner drilled a shot approximately 45-yard back with just over two minutes in the match. The shot went over keeper Brady Hupf's hands and snuck under the crossbar to give RHS the win and they were able to finish the GNC undefeated at 10-0.
The very physical match resulted in a total of 30 fouls called and three yellow cards were also issued on the night. The Raiders used a compact defense throughout the night and doubled or tripled teamed the Hodags' top scoring threat Jonus Sabani. But the Hodags were up for the challenge and Wisner and Ritchie recorded vital goals to relief that pressure.
Overall Rhinelander outshot Medford 26-9 and held a 12-3 advantage on shots on goal. Randolph earned the win and added two saves. RHS advanced to 14-3-2 overall.
Looking at the WIAA Division 3 Regionals, the Hodags earned the No. 1 seed and received a first round bye in the tournament. Rhinelander will face the winner of the Medford (No. 8 seed) and Shawano (No. 9 seed) on Thursday at the RHS soccer fields at 4:00PM.
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