Antigo football sets goal of taking back the conference titleSubmitted: 08/19/2019

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ANTIGO - Antigo football's Facebook cover photo shows the team holding up their five goals for the 2019 season.

"We had them talk it over and make sure as a team they figured out what they want to accomplish," head coach Tom Schofield said.

The first of those goals is simple: take back the Great Northern Conference.

"I guess we always want to prove ourselves and last year wasn't a good run," senior fullback Noah Musolff said.

Antigo's particularly focused on Rhinelander, and winning the annual Bell Game for the 13th straight time is priority number two.

"Just knowing that we've had the bell for so long, I mean, it gives us a little more reason to keep it here because it would be a shame to lose the streak," senior quarterback Nevin Cornelius said.

Goal number three involves defending their home of Schofield Stadium.

"It's the biggest atmosphere you could have," Schofield said. "Playing for not only their parents, but their student body, their community, they're really playing for everyone in that stadium."

To win those home games, the Robins will need a lot of big plays, which is why goal number four is to lead the conference in yards.

"Our plan is to just do all of our assignments and just get positive yards every play," Cornelius said.

More than anything else, the Robins have their eyes set on the playoffs.

"I'm pretty confident," Musolff said. "We've got a pretty talented team. They know what to expect."

The Robins start their season with two tough games: first on the road at Amherst and then home against reigning state runner-up Stratford.

Story By: Andrew Goldstein

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WAUSAU - Nail a trick and a skater is safe for a round.

If a skater misses a trick, they're one step closer to elimination

"It's pretty rough," skater Anthony Olsen said. "Everyone is really good in this city here."

That's life at the skateboarding event in the Badger State Games.

"Some of these tricks, some of these people can never master," Central Board Shop owner Jon Kurth said. "Some of them have been skating for most of their lives."

Although the games sound important, they look and feel like a casual ride at the skate park.

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KENNAN - You don't need snow to sled.

In fact, dryland dog sledding races happen all around Wisconsin.

There's even a national dryland sled team, which includes a human dog duo from Price County.

Niina Baum has been dog sled racing for 19 years.  Her passion for the sport landed her a spot on Team USA for the Dryland World Championship race in Sweden this October.

"I've been planning this for about six years now with that goal in mind and then I got Molly three years ago so then we really started to put that goal into action and now it's happened," Baum said.

Niina and her racy Greyhound/Pointer cross Molly have been training for the championship all summer in her home town of Keenan, Wisconsin.

"I have been running myself a lot, getting myself in really good shape and getting myself as light as possible so she doesn't have much weight to pull," Baum said. "With her we have been doing lots of exercises and running, she even runs on the treadmill."

Niina said the second she got Molly she knew she found the perfect race partner and a best friend.

"We work great together. When we are running the communication is easy, she knows what to do. When I start to lean one way she knows we are going to turn that way," Baum said.

The duo will compete in the one-dog scooter class where Molly will pull Niina on a scooter with large tires where the human kicks constantly usually reaching 20 miles per hour.

"I really want to see how my dog and I can do on the international level. We know we are good over here in the U.S. but there is a lot of really tough competition in Europe," Baum said.

Team USA will be facing 22 other countries at the world championship. Niina said she can't wait to embrace the challenging opportunity.

"I want to do the best I can over there but I still want to have fun and show this just isn't competition, we love doing it," Baum said.

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The Howard Young Foundation uses the dragon boat festival to raise money for a new tick-borne illness center.

Minocqua's dragon boat races serve as one of the biggest fundraisers for Howard Young.

The 21 teams who signed up this year raised more than $10,000 in registration fees alone.

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TOMAHAWK - Friday night football will officially be underway a week from today.

Many teams have spent the off-season in the weight room and sharpening their play books.

But a few had to transition into new leadership, including Tomahawk.

"Feeling good, optimistic, looking new, new coach and new ideas," said senior quarterback Cody Jablonski.

The Hatchet football team welcomed a new head coach in the off-season.But Sam Hernandez wasn't interested in re-branding the program. 

"I view this as building on the traditions that coach Larson and his staff, a lot of which are still with us and building on that and just adding my own flare to it," Hernandez said. 

Hernandez is a strong believer in hard smash mouth football, which is a common run attack in the competitive Marawood conference. Senior quarterback Cody Jablonski says he's confident in those schemes.

"Our running backs, myself our receivers and our line, we are really picking up on it. There's a lot more motion moving back and forth and a lot more thinking," Jablonski said. 

Numbers aren't as high as Hernandez wants them to be but has put all his faith in his six seniors to help 
lead the team.

"You can tell that they are hungry they want to build on success. Last year they were right outside the edge of the playoffs and I think there's that hunger in their eyes," Hernandez said.

Hernandez is challenging his players to prove it, first.

"It's almost like proving myself and what I can do on the field and off the field and not proving it to everyone else by myself," said senior running back Cody Scholz. 

"Give it all, give everything, 100% and make sure all the guys are giving 110%. I will give them all I got and see if they give it all back to me," Jablonski said.

The players hope proving what matters most will turn into a playoff appearance.

"Nothing is given and if we can buy into that day in and day out we are going to have a good football season," Hernandez said.

This will be the last season Tomahawk will play in the Marawood conference. The Hatchets will make their way to Greenwood for their first game next Friday. 

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MERRILL - The Merrill Bluejays have new formations and a new permanent coach, but will play the same old style of football this season.

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"We're going to just come right out and beat people," senior Alex Bloch said.

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"You know what you're doing most of the time," Bloch said. "We've been running the same plays for the last three years together."

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ELCHO - The Elcho/White Lake Wolverines will take the field with fewer players this season.

That's all by choice.

The Wolverines made the switch to eight-man football this offseason.

They did so along with most of their former conference rivals in the MONLPC.

Elcho only had one win last year, over Marion/Tigerton.

Instead of getting discouraged, the Wolverines say this year is going to be different.

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RHINELANDER - The proposed athletic dome at Rhinelander High School will obviously help the district's sports teams.

But the school board has its sights set on something bigger.

The district unveiled new renderings of the dome and the sports complex.

They went with the larger version of the two designs they were considering.

That larger version is roughly 20,000 additional square feet.

All the extra space provides room not just for sporting events, but for it to become a true community centerpiece.

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MINOCQUA - For the first time in almost a decade, the Thunderbird senior class will have spent all four years under the same head coach.

"They know my expectations, they know me, they are bought into the program," said Lakeland football head coach Dan Barutha.

Barutha is one of the few offensive minds in the Northwoods to run the spread offense. And this year is no different.

"We have guys with speed and space so that's why we are going to run the spread," Barutha said. We want to push the ball vertical any chance we get. The goal of our offense is anytime we touch the ball we want to score."

Senior quarterback Michael Ouimette could be one of the most dangerous weapons for the T-birds.

"He understands the offense inside and out, he's really vocal and taking ownership of things. He's making great reads, not afraid to step up in the whole, dropping his shoulder, being aggressive in the run game and 
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Ouimette will be surrounded by thirteen other seniors who are ready to do what teams in the past couldn't.

"We are super excited. We all have goals set that we want to make. We all want to do well based on previous years, we haven't done as well as we've wanted to and we want to make that step," Ouimette said.

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"It's going to be hard to replace Ray and Jake because they were both very good athletes and great receivers but we also have great receivers out here now. People just have to step up and make roles," Ouimette said.

"We are going reload in terms of those guys and those understand the expectations as a Lakeland receiver you are the best guy on the field," Barutha said. "There is a culture of receiver that we have developed around here and those guys are committed to it.

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"We want to be conference champs. We want to make a playoff run but we also want to be better players, better examples on the field and do our best very game," Ouimette said.

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They've got 10 seniors and a lot of newcomers from other sports.

Crandon did not have the season they were hoping for last year.

The Cards finished 1-8, with their sole victory coming against White Lake/Elcho.

That season provided plenty of reason for new kids to sign up.

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They're involved in YMCA of the Northwoods' flag football program.

It started back up again last year and got to join the fun at Green and White Day for the first time since the reboot.

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Seniors from the high school team helped out with the scrimmage.

Flag football game days will be on Saturday mornings for the next six weekends.

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