Mehlum back at QB for Superior Spartans
The Superior High School football team enjoyed a dream season last year.
The Spartans opened with six straight victories and in the process outscored their opponents 209-72. They also clinched a playoff berth with three games remaining.
After suffering losses to Hudson and Menomonie, Superior then finished strong with a 42-35 win over Chippewa Falls in their season finale.
The dream season turned into a nightmare in the playoffs as Superior not only lost to the Hortonville Polar Bears 47-0, but during the game lost quarterback Nick Mehlum to a knee injury.
“I was trying to get away from a tackle, planted (my leg) and the knee just gave out,” Mehlum said. “I really didn’t think it was going to be an ACL injury and when the doctor diagnosed it as one, it was kind of a shock. The doctor just said straight up “it was a complete tear.”
Mehlum finished the season completing 122-of-193 passes for 1,906 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also led the team on the ground with 385 yards rushing on 80 carries. Those numbers led to him being named to the Big Rivers Conference Player of the Year, first-team all BRC, all-state and all-region.
The injury led to Mehlum missing the entire basketball season.
“Missing basketball was tough, especially since we had all of our friends playing varsity for the first time,” Mehlum said. “Missing the opportunity to play with them was tough.”
While Mehlum was disappointed in watching the entire hoop season from the bench, he was busy rehabbing his knee with dream of getting back in the football field for his senior season.
“I actually went to therapy on the third day after surgery,” Mehlum said. “Now days they want to keep you active, keep the muscles moving and get them stronger. Around the three-month mark was when I noticed I could run in a straight line and get up to full speed. After that it fine tuning and getting the cuts down. It took about six months to get to full speed.”
Mehlum got cleared by the doctors in mid-April with a knee that was said to be stronger than before the injury.
“They took the Patella tendon from the front of the knee and reattach it somehow (to the back),” Mehlum. “They say the Patella is stronger and they say my new knee is probably stronger than my old one.”
While Mehlum has been working hard all summer in preparation for the upcoming football season his biggest question mark was how he would react to being hit.
“I feel 100 percent,” Mehlum said. “I can run, I haven’t taken that first hit yet, but I know I can take it. I don’t even notice it (knee).”
At the Spartans’ annual scrimmage Friday at Rice Lake, Mehlum threw three touchdown passes against Somerset. He was also impressive against Northwestern a TD pass to senior Nate Sanders and then completed his first two passes against Rice Lake.
“Nick looked very sharp (at Friday’s scrimmage),” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “He’s right on track with where he expected to be and where we expected him to be. That’s a result of the time he put in the offseason — training in the weight room, open gyms and 7-on-7 tournaments.
“He’s very, very sharp right now as a result of his efforts and he’s bigger, faster and stronger than he’s ever been.”
Unfortunately on Mehlum’s second completion against Rice Lake, Sanders caught a slant pass but when getting tackled by two Rice Lake players, one of the players landed on the back of his leg and he suffered a dislocated ankle and broken fibula. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and the scrimmage was canceled.
“It was really a fluke play, something that could have happened in a lot of different venues,” DeMeyer said. “Nate was just tackled and one of the players landed on the back of his leg.
“He’s really going to be missed. He and Nick had really developed a lot of chemistry. They’ve been good friends for a long time, attended a lot of open gyms and spent a lot of time in the backyard. They just love to work, play and compete together.”
The Spartans open the season at 7 p.m. Friday at Hopkins, Minn.