By Craig Marx, Editor
The 2017 campaign of the Antigo Red Robin football program saw the boys in maroon and white, along with the coaching staff, take incredible strides to not only being the premiere team in the Great Northern Conference but also being a state-recognized powerhouse once again. Though the amazing season came to an end on November 3 in the third round of the WIAA Playoffs, the Robins left their mark on the football year with multiple accolades and accomplishments.
The productive and proficient offense of Antigo only sputtered twice all season in losses to Stratford (Week 2) and Rice Lake (Level 3 of the playoffs), a 2017 year that saw the Robins finish 10-2 overall and claim a sole GNC title after a 6-0 conference run. The stingy Robins defense added to Antigo’s offensive success as the team was tops in conference statistics in points scored – 194 – and points allowed at 44. Shoring up opponents was a staple of the season as the next closest GNC opponent, Medford, allowed 93 points on the year.
The conference recognized the great play of the Robins with numerous awards, including head coach Tom Schofield being named the GNC Coach of the Year and CJ Levis as the Defensive Player of the Year. Levis, a junior this past season, ended his praise-worthy year with 122 total tackles.
In terms of both first and second team honors for the conference, Antigo claimed ten different positions, four of which were unanimous decisions.
Included on the first team offense ballot for Antigo were: Marcus Schroepfer (OL), Mike Zabrowski (OL), and Jericho Kelly (RB); the second team all-conference offense also featured Hunter Bolson (TE) and Dominic Smith (RB) as selections. Defensively, the Robins fielded four first team players: John Schlieve (DL), Korbin Krueger (DE/OLB), CJ Levis (LB) and Matt Winter (DB); Deakin Czerneski was also selected as a second team all-GNC defensive back.
Seven Robins also received honorable mentions from all-conference voters, including: Austin Arlen (OL), Garrett Held (OL), Matt Winter (QB), Derick Simonis (DL), Chris Arrowood (DL), Tom Kendall (DE/OLB) and Casey Lucas (DE/OLB).
Antigo dominated the GNC in terms of rushing yards putting up 1,685 yards on the ground in the tradition of the Robins’ storied run game. Kelly broke the millennial mark with 1,080 yards and 12 touchdowns to his credit, while Dominic Smith added 714 yards and another seven TDs. Adam Schmidt rushed for 597 yards, adding five TDs to Antigo ground game. The Robins did not need to hide their strategy – Antigo rushed 539 times on the year, 85% of its play calls, while attempting 78 passes all year.
Bolson, playing tight end, led the team with 200 receiving yards on eight receptions with three touchdowns.
The Robins claimed the GNC title outright after a string of shared championships the past couple years. Standout regular season wins included a 48-7 victory over Rhinelander to retain the Gene Sheppard Bell Trophy, a 49-8 win over Wausau East on the road, and a hard-fought 7-0 win over Medford to celebrate both homecoming and the return of many great Antigo football alumni.
Entering the WIAA Playoffs with cylinders firing, Antigo made quick work of Medford in the first round with a 48-8 win over the Raiders. The Robins took care of West Salem in the Level 2 round of the playoffs, pulling off a 21-0 win that carried them to a third consecutive home playoff against Rice Lake. Despite the loss to Warriors, Antigo has everything to be proud of in its accomplishments this season.