Raiders roll in happy homecoming
MEDFORD 43, ANTIGO 0
Aiden Gardner took Medford’s first offensive snap and sprinted to a 70-yard touchdown, setting the tone for another thoroughly dominant half by the starting unit in a 43-0 homecoming blowout over Antigo at Raider Field.
Gardner had two touchdown runs of 70 yards or more in a monster first half, where he carried just six times but piled up 222 yards and three scores. As a team, the Raiders had 315 first-half rushing yards and a 396-34 advantage in total yards while scoring all of their points in the game’s first 24 minutes.
“That was just crazy,” Gardner said of his big night. “That was really fun. I can’t even believe what happened. I came into this game thinking it would’ve been like last time. You get a few yards and a touchdown. But that was just awesome. It started right off the first play. That got me so hyped. That was so fun.”
“It’s always good to break two 70yard runs, but if you take those out of the mix and we still had a pretty good night,” head coach Ted Wilson said. “Emett (Grunwald) averaged over 8 yards a carry. I think everybody did a fairly good job. The linemen blocked really well. It was a good half for us.”
In their two halves of action in Medford’s 2-0 start, the starters outscored Hayward and Antigo by a combined 87-0.
Gardner’s first score Friday came after the defense forced a quick threeand- out by Antigo’s offense. A 32-yard punt by Antigo’s Conner Kolz put Medford on its 30-yard line. Gardner took the opening snap of the drive and ran to his right behind Nate Retterath. A huge hole opened up for Gardner to go untouched as he cut back toward the middle of the field. He only had to make one man miss about 25 yards downfield to score the 70-yard touchdown. He also ran in the two-point try for a quick 8-0 lead.
“Right when Nate got to the line, it was just wide open,” Gardner said. “If you saw my eyes, they were probably like beach balls. It was so awesome. Having a first run like that in a varsity game, that was so crazy. Hands down, (the offensive linemen) did everything. They did awesome. Words can’t describe how awesome they are.”
After a short Antigo punt, the Raiders took over on their own 42 and covered 58 yards in seven plays. Grunwald picked up 3 yards on fourth and one from Antigo’s 49. On third and four, Gardner found a hole to his left and got clearing blocks from Retterath and Peyton Kuhn on a 40-yard scoring run down the sideline. Logan Baumgartner’s two-point pass to Kuhn made it 16-0 just 6:14 into the game.
The Raiders needed five plays to complete a 57-yard scoring drive on their next possession. The touchdown came on a nice throw from Baumgartner to Kuhn on the left sideline. As Kuhn accelerated along the sideline, receiver Carson Kleist made an outstanding block at the 10, springing Kuhn for the 35-yard score. Grunwald’s two-point run extended the lead to 24-0 with 1:33 still left in the opening quarter.
“It completely made that play,” Wilson said of Kleist’s block. “If doesn’t make that block, Peyton probably gets tackled, or at least the guy has a chance to tackle him. That’s a great block. We’ve talked about that, just making those blocks that are going to spring those good plays into big plays.”
Tukker Schreiner’s first-down sack ruined Antigo’s next possession. A 42yard punt pinned Medford on its 21, but the Raiders got two big runs from Grunwald and pass completions from both Retterath and Baumgartner to get into scoring position. Baumgartner’s 4-yard pass to Carson Church put the ball in the end zone to stretch the lead to 30-0.
“That’s something we want to continue to grow upon and get better at,” Wilson said of Medford’s five-of-seven passing in the half for 83 yards. “Nate and Logan so far have done a very good job. Of course our number-one thing when the ball goes into the air is making sure we’re taking care of the ball and not turning it over. That hasn’t happened yet, so knock on wood that continues to go that way.”
Grunwald’s 25-yard punt return after an intentional grounding penalty put Antigo in a deep field-position hole, gave Medford the ball at the Robins’ 8-yard line. Kuhn bulled his way in for the score on the first play and he kicked the extra point for a 37-0 lead.
The Raiders capped the scoring with a 99-yard drive that took just three plays. After Kolz’s punt was downed at about the 1-foot line, Grunwald gave the offense some room with a 3-yard run, Retterath hit Kleist with an 18-yard pass and Gardner and his blockers did the rest, busting out for a 78-yard touchdown with 3:26 left in the half.
“Right when I got through the line I just knew it,” Gardner said. “This is going to be just like the first one.”
“As a whole, the entire team on both those (of the big runs) really executed very well to get him up to the second level and then he made a couple kids miss on the second level,” Wilson said. “That’s how you get big runs. When you’re talking about their defensive linemen and linebackers, everybody pretty much executed their blocks to perfection on both of those plays. Then Aiden made a kid miss and he was off to the races.”
With mostly reserves on the field throughout the running-clock second half, Medford held off Antigo’s lone scoring threat at the end of the third quarter. Nate Doriot broke up a fourth-down pass into the end zone on the last play of the quarter to end that threat at the 9-yard line.
Medford finished with 435 total yards, including 352 on the ground. Grunwald had 79 yard in nine carries. Kuhn had 14 yards in four carries to add to his 35-yard touchdown reception. Church caught two passes for 18 yards and a score.
Baumgartner completed three of four passes 53 yards, while Retterath was two for three for 30 yards.
With Dalton Krug back from injury and filling a spot on the offensive line, Blaine Seidl was able to return to the backfield, while Joe Gierl, Brody Doberstein, Abe Miller and Bryce Sperl as well as tight end Colton Surek paved the way for the offense to pile up its yards.
Antigo finished with 122 rushing and 129 total yards.
“For the most part, I thought the kids did a really good job of keying what they’re supposed to key and filling where they’re supposed to fill and did a nice job to shut down Antigo’s running game,” Wilson said.
Next up for Medford is a trip to Mosinee on Friday. The Indians are projected to be one of the primary challengers in Medford’s Great Northern Conference title defense. Without starting quarterback Michal Dul, the 1-1 Indians fell 28-21 at Rhinelander Friday. The Indians, though, still have the conference’s top receiving duo in Drayton Lehman and Cyle Kowalski and will present Medford’s defense with one of its top challenges of the season.
“They have the kind of offensive explosiveness that they’re never really out of the game until it’s over,” Wilson said.