By Mitchell A. Skurzewski
For Wausau Pilot & Review
MOSINEE – The Mosinee High School football team has had plenty of high-powered offenses over the last decade-plus.
But in the past, teams have never quite had the right mix and toughness to – and haven’t reached Level 3 of the WIAA Football playoffs since 2007. This year, Mosinee has a very different feel.
Mosinee has multiple playmakers on offense and defensively this year’s team has a senior-laden defensive line – Wyatt Cherek, Walker Beyerl, Charlie Spink – who has brought a gritty toughness to compliment the high-powered offense. Nolan Harris also leads the team in tackles with 76.
“Every year the first question you are asked is how is your team going to be this year,” Mosinee head coach Craig Martens said. “I thought we had a chance to be pretty good. This group really got after it in winter transitioning to spring and could tell this group really wanted to do something big.”
Mosinee begins its Division 3 playoff run as the No. 1 seed and faces Hayward/Lac Courte Oreilles in a Level 1 matchup on Friday at 7 p.m.
Mosinee’s offense is a balanced group with playmakers galore. Coach Martens says it is tough to gameplan for the team because “we don’t just go to one or two guys. We have five guys we are looking to get the ball to a handful of times or more.”
Quarterback Trevor Garski has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns with his top targets Keagan Jirschele (762 yards) and Davin Stoffel (571 yards) combining for 1,300 yards receiving.
“We spread the ball out, which makes it hard to defend us,” Martens said.
Mosinee went out and played a strong non-conference schedule, including a game against Stratford in Week 1 and Racine St.Catherine’s in Week 2. Mosinee suffered it’s lone loss against Stratford 14-7, but took down Racine St. Catherine’s 30-12.
The Great Northern Conference has a couple of run-heavy, smashmouth running teams in Rhinelander and Medford. Over the years, Medford has given Mosinee some bruising losses and in 2020 the Hodags beat Mosinee twice, including once in postseason play.
This year, Mosinee defeated Rhinelander 14-7 and Medford 48-21 in back-to-back weeks earlier this month to clinch a conference championship. Mosinee hasn’t won a playoff game – in the normal scenario, not counting last year’s COVID postseason play – since 2014.
“We returned seven players on defense and I think the difference this year is senior leadership and having those three seniors up front,” Martens said. “They are really playing well and controlling the line of scrimmage. As a group we are athletic but our defensive line are hard-nosed guys and play with toughness.”
That fortitude has translated to a mental toughness in the team too, Martens said.
“In years past we had some situations where we would have maybe gotten flustered,” he said. “But this year, Saint Catherine’s returned the opening kick for a touchdown, Rhinelander intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7. But this year, it didn’t fluster our guys and our body language was always still good and it actually motivated us and it is an area we have really grown.”
The added mental and defensive grit, paired with its usual high-powered offense has Mosinee thinking big this fall.