MARINETTE—The Marinette football team will travel to New London tonight with one mission: come home with a win.
“We’ve got nothing to lose, and we are going to play with our hair on fire” coach Nate Anderson said. “I just want these kids to get that taste of victory.”
The Marines are 0-8 on the season and running out of time to find that elusive “W.” Three times Marinette has fallen by a touchdown or less, including their last two games, a 27-19 loss to Wrightstown and a heartbreaking 17-16 loss to Little Chute.
“We want to take out all of that anger and frustration from all of those close games on them,” Anderson said.
New London, out of the Bay Conference, is just 1-7 on the year and 0-5 against teams from the North Eastern Conference.
“On paper, I believe we should win this game,” Anderson said. “But, just like us, they are dangerous because the have nothing to lose either.”
The Bulldogs have been outscored by over 28 points per game while producing just over 11 points per game offensively. The lone bright spot on the schedule came two weeks ago with a 20-14 victory at Seymour.
While they have struggled to put points on the board, the Bulldogs are a veteran team that is certainly capable of moving the ball down the field.
“They haven’t found their identity offensively,” Anderson said. “They’ve tried lots of different things and different formations, so you just don’t know what you are going to get and that could make it tough.”
Much like Marinette’s last opponent, Little Chute, New London relies on an air attack. Senior quarterback Payton Ludick has thrown for 1,138 yards this season while hitting 54.6% of his passes. He threw for a season-high 248 yards and two scores last week against Fox Valley Lutheran giving him back-to-back outings of over 200-yards passing.
“Their quarterback can be tough,” Anderson said. “He likes to get outside the pocket and make things happen, but he has struggled with some turnovers.”
Ludick has thrown nine interceptions against only eight touchdowns this season.
His favorite target is 6’0” senior Jackson Fields who has 44 catches for 523 yards on the season. Last week he caught seven balls for 143 yards against the Foxes.
Keegan Reybrock has 23 receptions for 209 yards, while Owen Batten (17-164) and Owen Schlueter (7-139) are capable of putting up big numbers as well.
The Bulldog ground game hinges on 6’1” 210-pound Cole Penn, who has carried the ball 69 times for 235 yards while scoring four touchdowns.
New London is a senior laden squad. Ludick, Fields, Reybrock, Batten, Schlueter and Penn are all seniors, while the roster features 13 members of the class of 2022.
Last week the Marines came up on the short end of a 17-16 score against Little Chute. The Mustangs stymied the Marines’ normally potent running game, but senior quarterback Adam Lemery adjusted and used his arm to move the team down the field.
Lemery passed the ball for a season-high 144 yards against LC, moving him to 410 yards passing and 1,212 yards of total offense for the season. To be sure, the Marines would rather ground-and-pound and add a big number to Lemery’s 802 rushing yards on the season, but the team has built some confidence in its passing game as well.
Coach Anderson expects to see his special teams unit come through after some costly miscues last week. The Marines out-gained Little Chute by 40 yards and converted seven plays on third or fourth down compared to just two for the Mustangs, but LC came up with big plays on special teams that led directly to 10 of their 17 points.
“We’ve got to be solid on special teams,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be another close game, but we are hoping to grind them down and come out with a win.
Tonight’s game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff in New London, Wis.