Raiders ground Mosinee’s air attack in one-sided win
MEDFORD 48, MOSINEE 8
Defending a pass-first team like Mosinee obviously requires a strong effort from the secondary, but doing it well also requires great work from the guys up front and that’s what the Medford Raiders got Friday in a 48-8 win.
The defense gave up 213 passing yards, a handful of big plays and the first-team allowed its first touchdown of 2020. But the bottom line is Mosinee scored just eight points, which wasn’t nearly enough to challenge the 3-0 Raiders, whose defense actually outscored the potent Indians’ offense.
“They’re extremely explosive and dangerous and those two wide receivers (Drayton Lehman and Cyle Kowalski) they have are really good,” Medford head coach Ted Wilson said. “They’re probably all-state caliber kids. To be able to slow them down and allow them into the end zone only once is a great defensive effort. We had two pick-sixes. The kids played pretty well.”
One of the key reasons Medford kept Mosinee out of the end zone with the exception of a late second-quarter drive was the play of the defensive line. The Raiders went away from their traditional 5-2 look up front and used a 4-3 to better deal with Mosinee’s short passing game. Linemen Nate Retterath, Emett Grunwald, Joe Gierl, Brody Doberstein and Tukker Schreiner led the charge in holding Mosinee to 19 yards on 28 rushing attempts, including 13 tackles for losses. Their work also freed up linebackers and safeties for some successful blitzes as well.
“The front four really did a great job against their offensive line,” Wilson said. “Keeping a middle linebacker allowed us to play with five in the box in the second half and allowed us to go out and bump those two kids that are so dangerous. It helped tremendously that those five could shut down their running game.”
Retterath registered Medford’s first sack of Mosinee quarterback Trevor Garski, starting his second straight game in place of the Indians’ week-one starter Michal Dul. That led to a punt and Medford’s first possession of the game, which was a quick five-play, 67yard drive that included a big 15-yard third-down pass from Nate Retterath to Colton Surek, a 17-yard run by Aiden Gardner and then a 31-yard touchdown run down the left side for Gardner. Logan Baumgartner’s two-point conversion pass to Emett Grunwald made it 8-0 just 3:10 into the game.
Medford stopped a lengthy Mosinee drive on downs at its 13-yard line, but had to punt after one first down. Baumgartner’s punt pinned Mosinee at its 13 and, on first down, Garski attempted a pass over the middle to Davin Stoffel, but linebacker Blaine Seidl got in the way, tipping the ball to himself and running it back 24 yards for a touchdown. Gardner’s two-point run pushed Medford’s lead to 16-0 with 1:59 left in the opening quarter.
“He dropped right into his hook zone, which was a little different this week,” Wilson said. “He was supposed to drop more into the middle of the field because we were playing a 4-3 instead of our traditional 5-2. He ran himself right into one, popped it up to himself caught it and did a good job to get into the end zone because he had to break a couple of tackles to get in there.”
Seidl, unfortunately, left the game with a leg injury late in the third quarter.
“We’re kinda getting injuries all piled up on us in one year,” Wilson said. “That’s four seniors that have gotten hurt now.”
Gardner broke loose for his third touchdown run of 70 yards or more in a two-week span at the 6:12 mark of the second quarter. He bounced off a defensive tackle at the line of scrimmage, eluded another tackler early and then got in the clear, cutting back and avoiding one last tackle near midfield on his 71-yard jaunt. Grunwald’s two-point run made it 24-0.
Seidl’s ensuing kickoff found a sweet spot near the right sidelines and was recovered by Nate Doriot at Mosinee’s 35, giving Medford an extra possession. The Raiders took advantage as a long run by Grunwald got the Raiders inside the five and Peyton Kuhn scored on a 4-yard plunge. Gardner’s run on the conversion bumped the lead to 32-0 with 5:19 left in the half.
Mosinee answered with its lone scoring drive, capped by an 18-yard catch and run by Lehman for the touchdown with 1:02 left.
Medford threatened to score again, but ran out of time after getting inside Mosinee’s 15. The Raiders’ offensive unit, playing in a second half for the first time this season, then went quiet until the defense bottled up a Kowalski run on a fake punt early in the fourth quarter. One play later, a play action fake sucked up Mosinee’s entire defense to the line of scrimmage and Baumgartner found Carson Kleist as wide open as a receiver could possibly be for a 19-yard score.
“That was a case of them being down 32-8 at that point in time,” Wilson said. “We’d been running and running and running and running, so it was a good time to go play action.”
Doriot picked off an errant Garski pass just over three minutes later and ran untouched 54 yards down the right sideline for the night’s final touchdown with 5:37 to go.
Medford finished with 306 total yards of offense, including 220 on the ground and 86 through the air. Gardner finished with 137 yards on 12 carries, while Grunwald had 59 yards on 13 attempts. Baumgartner was four of 10 in passing for 71 yards, while Retterath was one for three. Five different receivers caught one pass each.
“The first half we played fairly well,” Wilson said of the offense. “In the third quarter, we didn’t play very well at all on offense. We’ve got quite a bit to clean up there, trying to sustain blocks. We did not throw the ball particularly well or catch the ball very well. We had two for sure dropped balls that hit us in the hands that would’ve been big first downs. One overthrow that was a touchdown. There were three balls that we probably should have completed for big yardage and another couple balls that were underthrown. That hurt us.”
Garski posted solid numbers for Mosinee, completing 24 of 35 passes for 213 yards, but the two interceptions were costly. Lehman had 11 catches for 113 yards, while Kowalski had seven catches for 93 yards.
With the win, Medford retained possession of the Cheese Grater traveling trophy.
Medford and Rhinelander are the only 3-0 teams in the Great Northern Conference. The Raiders will host 1-2 Merrill Friday at 7 p.m. The Blue Jays got off to a good start with a 20-14 win over Ashland but have struggled the last two weeks without quarterback and leading rusher Caleb DeJong, losing 34-6 at Lakeland and 42-8 to Rhinelander.
Medford owns a five-game winning streak over the Blue Jays that started in the 2015 WIAA playoffs.