Spartans wary of winless Old AbesThey’re just two games into the Big Rivers Conference football schedule and the Superior High School Spartans already find themselves with their backs against the wall. The reason? With only five games remaining, the Spartans must win three of those games for an automatic bid into the WIAA playoffs.
By: Ken Olson, The Daily Telegram
They’re just two games into the Big Rivers Conference football schedule and the Superior High School Spartans already find themselves with their backs against the wall.
The reason? With only five games remaining, the Spartans must win three of those games for an automatic bid into the WIAA playoffs.
Superior (2-2 overall and 1-1 in the BRC) hosts the Eau Claire Memorial Old Abes (0-4, 0-2) in its annual homecoming game at 7 p.m. today at Ole Haugsrud Field.
The Spartans also still have dates with Chippewa Falls (4-0, 2-0), River Falls (3-1, 1-1), Hudson (3-1, 1-1) and Eau Claire North (1-3, 1-1).
With that said, the remaining schedule isn’t going to be easy, including tonight’s opponent, despite ECM’s record.
“We go into every conference game with that attitude and with the loss last week at Menomonie, there’s even more of a sense of urgency,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “Memorial’s a good football team. Their record is not indicative to what kind of football team they have. They have a lot of good athletes, they have a solid defense and they don’t have anybody going both ways.”
In last week’s 25-21 loss to Eau Claire North, ECM outgained the Huskies 155-19 on the ground and blew a two-score fourth quarter lead.
“On offense, they have a running back by committee type of thing,” DeMeyer said. “They have three or four real good backs and they’re capable of scoring every time they touch the ball. Their offensive line is very solid and their starting quarterback (Andrew Kasmarek, leg injury) didn’t start last week, but they have a couple of sound backups.”
One backup QB is junior Zac Mestelle, the son of Bill Mestelle and grandson of former Spartan coach Tom Mestelle. Zac Mestelle passed for 60 yards in the loss to North.
For the first time in at least 15 years, the Spartans will face an Old Abes team that doesn’t include head coach Pat McGinnis, also a former SHS coach.
“He did a lot for that program while he was there,” DeMeyer said. “I know he taught a lot more than just football. He taught the kids life lessons, he’s a great man.
“The new coach (Paul Kling) was an assistant under McGinnis and they didn’t change much as far as scheme on offense or defense.”
“After the loss to North, it will be interesting to see how the kids respond,” Kling said. “Superior is a very good football team. We want to go up there and play physical and let the chips fall where they may.”
Despite last week’s 21-6 loss at Memononie, DeMeyer said his team is ready to get back into action
“The kids responded well,” DeMeyer said. “We talked after the game and put things into perspective. We did not, by any means, play our best game, or even a good game. We made a lot of mistakes.
“But our two losses have been to the two best programs in the state in the past 20 years, so were not hanging our heads by any means. We looked at some of the mistakes we made and know that they are things that we can resolve.”
The injury bug is still haunting the Spartans.
Junior Kellen McCoshen is expected back next week and sophomore Joel Lindberg will still be out at least two more weeks.
Seniors Russell Banks and Nate Miner and junior Mike LaValley were banged up at Menomonie but are expected back. Junior Zach Colvin is questionable and sophomore Dan Quade, who didn’t play last week, will be back at halfback and outside linebacker.
Senior kicker John LeDoux has also reached the required number of practices and is ready to play. LeDoux, who kicked for the Spartans as a sophomore, didn’t play last year and just decided last week to join the team.
Chris Blake, Superior’s regular kicker, welcomes the move.
“Chris was the first person I talked to about and letting John on the team and he said ‘absolutely, let him kick,’” DeMeyer said. “Chris has been doing an excellent job of kicking extra points for us.”
As an added distraction, tonight’s game wraps up the Spartans’ annual homecoming week.
“The kids are really focused,” DeMeyer said. “It’s fun and we want the kids to be involved with everything, but we also have to remember that the main objective is the game itself.
“For us to win we’re going to have to execute, play within our systems and trust that our teammates are going to do their jobs. When we have confidence in each other we’re able to move the ball.”
Joe Reichert and Blake are Superior’s weapons on offense.
Reichert has completed 17-of-32 passes for 361 yards with Blake catching 10 of those passes form 232 yards.
The Spartans have outscored their opponents 68-66, averaging 291 yards while allowing 296 in BRC games.
Blake, Ethan Taylor and Banks are Superior’s leading tacklers on defenses.
SPARTAN SPIN: Superior won last year’s game, 48-27, to break a string of 12 straight Memorial wins. The Abes lead the series since 1935, 29-25-2. ... ECM has been outscored by opponents, 99-59, and outgained 268-210 in average yards. ... ECM’s Ricky Caldwell rushed for 71 yards last week and has 124 yards and a TD in past two games. Bobby Nyland (156, 5.6) is the leading rusher for the year along with Sam Fisher, who gained 50 yards last week. ... Dan Tainter and Sam Sires are among the leading receivers for the Old Abes, who are trying to snap a nine-game losing streak dating back to 16-15 win over North last year.