By Craig Marx, Editor
The Antigo Red Robins took a share of the Great Northern Conference this past Friday, defeating the Medford Raiders 27-25 to finish the regular season 6-3 overall and 5-1 in the GNC (a conference record that they share with both Merrill and Medford).
Quarterback Matt Winter used his legs to help the Robins win a hard-fought battle over the Raiders, putting up 121 yards and three touchdowns in a performance that would make even Lamar Jackson envious.
Winter took rushes of 61 and 39 yards to the house in the third quarter to help Antigo put the game away and guarantee a GNC title share for the second year in a row.
The Robins defense was tested as the Raiders put up 377 yards of total offense against Antigo, including a 188-yard, two TD passing effort from quarterback Ben Lindgren and 134 rushing yards for senior running back Conrad Bolz.
The win over Medford helped the now No. 4 seeded Antigo secure a home playoff game, scheduled against No. 5 Fox Valley Lutheran for this coming Friday, Oct. 21 at Schofield Stadium (7 p.m.). The Robins Division III sectional includes the likes of No. 8 Shawano at No. 1 Notre Dame (Green Bay), No. 7 Seymour at No. 2 Luxemburg-Casco, and No. 6 Waupaca at No. 3 West De Pere.
With a Robins’ win on Friday, Antigo would play the winner of the Seymour/Luxemburg-Casco tilt the following Friday.
Fox Valley Lutheran, located in Appleton, is a school roughly two-thirds the size of Antigo and enters the 2016 WIAA Playoffs 5-4 overall and 3-4 in the Eastern Valley Conference, a league that features Middle Wisconsin teams such as Waupaca, Winneconne, and Freedom.
The Foxes feature a fairly balanced offense, racking up 1,607 yards through the air on the season (7.7 yards per attempt, 179 yards per game) as opposed to 1,527 yards total on the ground.
For signal callers, FVL has the strong arm of sophomore starter Drew Reader, who put up 1,041 passing yards, 15 TDs, and six picks this year. Reader has a 96.4 quarterback rating on the year and has completed 48% of his passes.
The real power behind the Foxes’ offense lies in Zayne Rodencal, a junior running back that has rushed for an astounding 1,512 yards in 2016, averaging 8.1 yards per carry and 168 yards per game, putting away 15 TDs to boot.
For comparison’s sake, the 2015 Foxes made it to Level 2 of the postseason, defeating Sheboygan on the road 20-14 while losing the next week to Wrightstown 56-26. Antigo, after tying for the GNC title with Medford last season, lost in the Level 1 round to intra-conference rival Mosinee 21-0 to end the inaugural season for head coach Tom Schofield.