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Antigo keeps grinding, and winning, with its ground game Submitted: 08/22/2017
Antigo - Antigo and football tradition go hand in hand. The Red Robins are a yearly contender to win the Great Northern Conference and make noise in the playoffs. They also stick to one particular style of play.

"It's pretty much our philosophy is always run first, pass second," said senior Adam Schmidt.
Running the football is as much a part of the Red Robins as their winged helmets, and it has been for a long time. So when Tom Schofield became head coach a few years ago, he knew he wanted an extra emphasis on the style of years past.

"I wanted to get back to more tradition of my grandpa's style football of run first," said Schofield.

Just like the teams led by his grandfather Gordy, Schofield's modern-day Red Robins play a style they enjoy--especially the offensive linemen who get to run block.

"Taking guys on while you're running, it's awesome. It's a lot better than just standing there," said senior Michael Zabrowski.

Another reason to enjoy the aggressive running style is simple: it works. Antigo is coming off back-to-back seasons with five conference wins despite finishing last in passing both years.

"When you pass the ball, my dad always says three things can go wrong," said Schofield. "You can get sacked, have an incomplete pass, or can have an interception."

Last year was perhaps Antigo's greatest example of a determination to run the ball. Despite a 5-1 GNC record, the Red Robins completed just five passes in six conference games.

"We did try throwing the ball last year," Schofield said. "We just mishit a few times."

Despite so much success on the ground and little through the air, the Red Robins players are quick to ask Schofield about trying a pass play.

"I give them their shots in practice the most, and if they complete it, I say, 'All right. We'll give it a try," said Schofield.

While Antigo won't suddenly start running a spread offense, the coaches do hope to be more unpredictable. They know their players won't complain about that.

"I'm always up for a good pass play," said Zabrowski. "I'm never going to sit one out. [When it works], it looks awesome too, it just does."

Antigo defeated Berlin 20-14 last Friday to open the season. The Red Robins are back on the field this Friday at home against Stratford.

Written By: Mark Spillane

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