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2016 RHS Football Review
By Hodagsports.com Staff - Posted on 11/20/2016
Photo By HodagSports.com Staff
The Rhinelander High School football team was looking to have a breakout season and final secure a Great Northern Conference win, after going back-to-back years without a conference win. But despite starting the 2016 strong against non-conference opponents, the Hodags were unable to keep that going.

For the third consecutive year Rhinelander would go winless in the GNC standings. Although the Hodags were without a conference win, they showed great promise and had several close games throughout the season.

The tables finally looked as if they were going to change, when RHS rushed out to a 2-0 standing after notching two non-conference victories. It also marked Rhinelander’s first 2-0 start since the 2000’s and the Hodags were the only undefeated GNC team after two weeks of action.

In their opening game at Mike Webster Stadium, Rhinelander finished with an impressive 27-8 victory over Prescott. And then RHS would follow that up the following weak with a 31-13 win over Wittenberg-Birnamwood.

But that strong start would quick diminish once the Hodags kicked off their GNC openener. Rhinelander was unable to slow Mosinee on the road and dropped 27-7.

In the fourth week of football, Rhinelander went up against Merrill, who was the preseason favorite in the GNC. Although the Hodags knew they would have a challenge they never backed down from the Bluejays.

The Hodags marched down the field and appeared to have the game tying touchdown, but was taken away due to an illegal motion call on third down. And Rhinelander was stopped short on fourth down and fell 15-9.

In another close GNC game against rival Lakeland, the Hodags would come up just shy again. This time RHS feel 21-14 after junior quarterback Logan Freund threw four interceptions and recorded two fumbles on the night. The final nail in the coffin came with 42 seconds left in the contest when Freund was picked off from Tyler Carroll of the Thunderbirds for the fourth time.

The Hodags then got a break from Great Northern Conference action, but turned out to be one of the worst nights of the year for RHS. Rhinelander fell 64-0 to Amherst, the defending Division 5 state champions.

The Falcons would show no mercy and scored all 64 of their points in the first half and would play the second half with second and third string players. And as if the loss wasn’t enough, the Hodags lost several key players to injuries.

Freund along with linemen Tyler Blomdahl and Matthew Reinthaler all did not finish the game because of injuries. A big concern from losing starting quarterback was who to fill that role after backup Brock Lieder was scratched early in the year due to a leg injury. Cole Spaulding would finish as quarterback, but the damage was already done.

Then as if Rhinelander wasn't beat up enough, in the homecoming game in week seven, the Hodags lost leading receiver Owen White. RHS planned on using White as quarterback before he sustained a knee injury during warmups. Spaulding yet again had to fill the void, but Rhinelander would fall again, this time in a 35-7 loss to Medford.

And the Hodags would extend their conference losing streak to 19 games after falling in their final two match-ups of the year.

RHS returned Freund, Blomdahl, and Reinthaler for the annual Bell Game. But the Hodags would fall on the road 25-6 to Antigo, marking a decade without returning the Bell to Rhinelander.

Looking at Rhinelander's offensive numbers, their rank went unchanged but their defense showed promise and improved from sixth to fifth this season in total defense (333.0yards/game).

The Hodags were sixth in total offense (228.5 yards/game) and were last in scoring offense averaging 11.5 points per game. One of the biggest offensive struggles for Rhinelander was their running game. The Hodags only averaged 87.2 yards on ground per game, with Freund accounting for over 70% of them, with a total of 377 net yards in five GNC games.

Rhinelander will have several voids to fill for the 2017 season, as they lose three first team all-conference players to graduation; Blomdahl, Reinthaler, and kicker Gunnar Millot. RHS will also have to replace their top tackler Jonah Zarda, who finished with 100 stops as safety.

They will also lose tight end Logan Wild to graduation. Wild received honorable mention. But the Hodgas will return Freund and White, who also earned honorable mention in the GNC.

Blomdahl, senior nose tackle and first team all-GNC unanimous selection, was also named to the all-region football team. He was one of only five defensive linemen to make the WFCA’s Northwest region. Blomdhal finished with 55 tackles for Rhinelander in the season.

The Hodags will return three of their all-GNC selections for next season including Freund, White, and Colton Krueger.

Although they didn't make the all-conference team, Rhinelander has several important players returning next year including Spaulding, Jared Fabich (lineman), Alex Monk (linebacker), Alec Kurtz (tight end), and defensive backs/receivers Tyler Olson and Reubon Guzik.
2016 RHS Boys' Soccer Review
By Hodagsports.com Staff - Posted on 11/18/2016
Photo By HodagSports.com Staff
The Rhinelander High School boys' soccer team would record yet another winning season in 2016 marked by their third consecutive Great Northern Conference title under head Coach Dan Millot. 

The Hodags would finish their fall season with an 8-0-2 record in the GNC and went 11-7-2 overall. Rhinelander would easily score the most in the conference and averaged 4.3/goals per match. And on the defensive end the Hodags' also at least goals scored against them in the GNC with allowing 10 goals, averaging to only one a game.

Leading the way was no other than senior GNC offensive player of the year Gunnar Millot, who also earned first team all-conference. Osy Ekwueme of Medord was also co-offensive GNC player of the year and led with 19 conference goals and 45 total points.

Millot finished the conference with 11 goals, but really showed his offensive abilities was his 17 assists he charted. His assists by far led the conference, with the next best finishing with 7 assists. Millot would finish his high school career with 39 total conference points.

Along with Millot, sophomore Jonus Sabani also had an impact for the Hodags' and earned first team all-conference unanimous selection. Sabani finished with 14 goals which was second highest in the GNC and 31 total points.

Senior Reeve Craig would finish 2016 with nine conference goals and four assists and would make the GNC charts with 22 total points. Sophomore Von Oepen wouldn't be far behind Craig and finish with 15 points including six goals and three assists. Both Craig and Von Oepen earned second team all-conference as well. 

Sophomore keeper Josh Randolph and junior Joseph Schmitz would each earned honorable mention in the GNC. Randolph would finish with the third best conference save percentage at 80.8%, only allowing an average of one goal per match. Schmitz would finish with three points in the conference including one goal and one assist.

Rhinelander would start their season at the end of August with the Hodag Invite held at the Hanson Lake Soccer Complex. In the two-day tournament, RHS would go 1-2 against non-conference opponents. The Hodags fell to Kingsford and Iron Mountain and their lone win was against Tomah. 

Rhinelander would kick off the conference on the road against Lakeland, where the Thunderbirds on got on board first. But the Hodags' got back-to-back goals from senior Craig to pull ahead in the first half. Millot would add a second half insurance goal to give RHS a 3-1 win.

The only bump in their GNC schedule would come against Mosinee, where each conference match the Hodags' would come out with 1-1 draws. In each match Rhinelander would have quality looks at the net, but would only connect on one each game, which provided to not be enough for the victory but only the tie. The Indians would finish third in the GNC with a 4-2-4 record, and would hold the most draws in conference action.

From that point, the Hodag's most difficult opponents proved to be non-conference teams. In early September, RHS battled in the Delavan-Darien Quad and went 1-1. The Hodags fell 2-1 to Racine Case and defeated Milwaukee Lutheran 5-2. 

Just two weeks later, Rhinelander would battle in another non-conference invite, this time a little closer to home at D.C. Everest. Yet again the Hodags would come out 1-1. RHS would fall to Wausau West 4-1 before defeating Fond du Lac 4-0. 

Rhinelander would face Marshfield in a non-conference match at the end of September and would fall 5-1. And not even a month later, the Hodags were faced with facing the Tigers in the WIAA Division 2 Regional Semifinals. In a similar story, Rhinelander fell, this time 7-1 at Griese Park.

Despite their playoff run coming to an end earlier than in the previous years, the Hodags still have plenty to hold their heads high about. RHS finished 11-7-2 overall and nearly perfect at 8-0-2 in the GNC and secured their third straight title under Coach Millot. The Hodags will lose seven seniors to graduation, but their hard work and dedication will be remembered.

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