Packers eliminated from playoffs with loss to BearsSubmitted: 12/16/2018
CHICAGO - CHICAGO (AP) " Aaron Rodgers missed a couple of open receivers. He got picked off. He came up empty when the Green Bay Packers needed a big play.

Nothing like his usual work against the Chicago Bears.

Rodgers looked shaky in Green Bay's 24-17 loss to Chicago on Sunday, throwing an interception for the first time since September and failing to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in more than a year.

Coupled with Minnesota's 41-17 victory against Miami, the Packers (5-8-1) were eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight year. The outcome also clinched the NFC North title for the Bears (10-4), who blew a 20-0 lead in a Week 1 loss to Rodgers and company in Green Bay.

"Obviously, there will be some changes in the offseason," said Rodgers, who turned 35 on Dec. 2. "We'll finish this year out the right way and then we'll look to the future, which I think is still really bright in Green Bay."

Rodgers has towered over one of the NFL's most heated rivalries for years, directing Green Bay to 17 wins in his previous 21 starts against Chicago " including a victory over the Bears in the NFC championship game in the 2010 season at Soldier Field. He had 1,043 yards passing, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in his past four games against Chicago.

But the two-time NFL MVP was never able to get into a rhythm in his first loss at Chicago's longtime home since September 2010. He finished 25 for 42 for 274 yards and an uncharacteristically low passer rating of 68.9.

"It's a little bit of everything," interim coach Joe Philbin said. "Sometimes it's been the protection, sometimes it's been the routes, sometimes it's been the throws. I don't know that it's just Aaron missing throws. Certainly, there's some throws I'm sure he wish he had back today. I think that's kind of common for a quarterback."

Playing behind a banged-up offensive line, Rodgers was on the run for much of the day and was sacked five times. He misfired on a potential touchdown pass to Equanimeous St. Brown midway through the second quarter, and threw long on a deep pass intended for Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the fourth.

Asked about the passing game this year, Rodgers said he has missed some throws, but "some of the ones you probably think are missed throws maybe we are just not on the same page."

Rodgers also said his groin tightened up on him near the end of the first half and it bothered him "a little bit" the rest of the day. But he plans to start Green Bay's last two games, even with the Packers out of playoff contention.

"I'd like to be out there, lead us the last two weeks," he said.

Even with Rodgers struggling, the Packers headed into the fourth quarter with a chance to win. But Mitchell Trubisky tossed a tiebreaking 13-yard touchdown pass to Trey Burton and Cody Parkey kicked a 24-yard field goal to give the Bears a 24-14 lead with 6:43 left.

Green Bay then drove down the field to the Chicago 9. On third down, Rodgers tried for tight end Jimmy Graham over the middle, but the ball got tipped into the air and Eddie Jackson picked it off in the end zone.

It was Rodgers' first interception since Sept. 30 against Buffalo, ending an NFL-record streak of 402 pass attempts without an interception.

"I feel pretty good about the way I've taken care of the football this season," Rodgers said. "We just haven't made enough big plays over the year. That's why the completion percentage is what it is, the yards-per-attempt is what it is, the touchdowns are where they're at. That stuff is disappointing."

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River Hockey Arena hosted the first NCAA hockey game in its 86-year history Saturday evening.

It was a chance to make history for most of the players on the ice and a chance to come home for one of them.

"It's such a special thing for me," Northland Pines alum Adam Kresl said.

Kresl came back to Eagle River with his UW-Stout teammates to play Finlandia in the first-ever NCAA hockey game at Eagle River Hockey Arena.

"I think it's just so special because of the community," Kresl said. "There's so much support and so much help and everyone just loves to play hockey and loves the game and loves everything it's about."

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Friday Night Blitz: 12-14-18Submitted: 12/14/2018

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Mosinee 57 Medford 53
Tomahawk 45 Lakeland 84
Northland Pines 69 Rhinelander 48
Three Lakes 40 Crandon 55
Laona/Wabeno 72 Goodman/Pembine 40
Antigo 65 Wausau East 85

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RHINELANDER - Two days before the administration and activities director fired coach Chris Ferge the school sent a survey to the varsity players.

We put in an open records request to see the results.

33 of 42 players took the survey, their names being kept anonymous.

Twenty of them answered questions like, "what's the worst part of the program, " with negative comments like:

"Coaches not being supportive and calling them worthless."
"The bullying, the unfairness, and being mistreated."
"The coaches suck and I hated every day."

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Local Sports Report: 12/11/18Submitted: 12/11/2018

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CRANDON - Crandon girls basketball stifled Rhinelander, winning 61-40 and extending their winning streak to five games.

Northland Pines boys basketball used hot 3-point shooting to knock off Chequamegon, 68-36.

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TOMAHAWK - With his head up and hands active, Wyatt Wenninger gets ready to pin his opponent, just like he's done for more than a decade.

"I think my dad just signed me up one day, brought me up here and we started learning," Wenninger said.
Bob Garrou, Wenninger's coach, watched his development firsthand.

"Wyatt's an extremely good athlete, he's good at everything he does," Garrou said. "He just always struggled with confidence and I believe he's finally got control of his confidence. I think great things are in his future."

Wenninger made the state tournament last year in the 152-pound division, but is wrestling a class up in the 160-pound division this season.

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Friday Night Blitz 12.7.18Submitted: 12/07/2018

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Tomahawk 56 Antigo 77
Rhinelander 59 Lakeland 74
Wausau East 63 Medford 49
Northland Pines 73 Mosinee 78
White Lake 22 Phelps 85

Crandon 67 Three Lakes 41
Rhinelander 59 Lakeland 45

The Hodags broke the Lady Thunderbirds 29 game GNC winning streak.

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RHINELANDER - The Heisman Trophy is the award that makes a player an instant legend; sought after by gridiron giants from Oregon to Florida.

"The Heisman Trophy is still America's greatest individual award," College Football Hall of Fame curator Kent Stephens said.

And while the country celebrates legendary football coach John Heisman in New York every year, what's left of the man himself stays buried in Rhinelander, where he's been for more than 80 years.

"If we're mowing or weed-whacking in here, someone's bound to stop us and ask where the grave is," said Forest Home Cemetery sexton Jeremy Biolo.

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Thursday Night Sports Report Submitted: 12/06/2018

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Local Sports Report: 12/4/18Submitted: 12/04/2018

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EAGLE RIVER - Marshfield boys basketball defeated Rhinelander at home, 72-39, behind 24 points from Brant Bohman.

Northland Pines hockey beat Tomahawk, 15-1. 

Three Lakes girls basketball topped Tomahawk, 52-41, at home.

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GNC gymnastics back on the matsSubmitted: 12/01/2018

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MEDFORD - Many Northwoods athletes started their weekend tumbling, flipping and balancing.

Five teams competed in Medford's first ever Hot Cocoa Invitational Saturday.

Rhinelander, Mosinee, Medford, Chequamegon and Escanaba hit the mats.

The Raiders took the gold with 119 points, even without their top two gymnasts.

Medford's Brooklyn Bilz and Makala Ulrich took first and second in the all-around.

Head coach Steve Cain says he's proud of the individual performances but hopes the girls have the bigger picture in mind.

"I want them to see team spirit. I want them to have team comradery," Cain said. "It's an individual sport but if you do not have individuals come together as a team, it's hard for each of them to really excel. That's my goal for them, is to do their best as a team."

Rhinelander placed second with 114 points.

Senior Raven Sturtevant led the way placing third in the all-around.

She says the Hodags are working towards an even better postseason-run than last year.

"We are already starting about how we ended last year so we are just building on things," Sturtevant said. "I think we are going to be in a good running for conference and even see if more of us can make it to state this year."

Rhinelander hosts its invitational next Saturday.All but two of the GNC teams will compete.

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