BRC Preview: Spartans off to best start since ’07
By: By Don Leighton, For The Telegram, Superior Telegram
Off to its best start since 2007, the Superior High School football team hosts the Eau Claire North Huskies at 7 p.m. today at Ole Haugsrud Field.
Looking for their third win to start the season, tonight’s game is the first Big Rivers Conference contest of the year. To qualify for the playoffs, the Spartans need to win at least four games against tough conference opponents. Superior lost its last playoff appearance in 2008 at D.C. Everest.
Last year, the Huskies defeated the Spartans 54-22 at Carson Park. This year, both Superior victories were come-from-behind battles against Merrill and Duluth East, 26-25 and 28-21, respectively. The Merrill game was particularly exciting as the Spartans trailed 22-0 after one quarter.
The town is buzzing, and a victory tonight would boost the confidence of the Spartans and make a statement to the BRC.
Good weather is also guaranteed so let’s show up in force to support these hard working student-athletes. Bring a jacket just in case.
Following is a peek at teams in the BRC:
The Spartans struggled last year and finished the season 0-9. Injuries plagued the Spartans and many players had to play both ways as coach Bob DeMeyer never had the luxury of having the same starting line-up in consecutive games. This season the Spartans have already proven two important parts of a winning equation: they can come from behind to win and they can win close games.
The offense is led by Aaron Wakefield with 218 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The sophomore rushed for 145 yards last week against Duluth East. Colten Lorenz has been the leading receiver with three catches for 146 yards for a gaudy 48.7 yards per catch and two touchdowns. Junior Spencer Urban has been outstanding at quarterback, running and passing the ball. Because of his size (6-foot-2), wide receiver Kyle Turkowski is a tough match-up for opposing defenders.
What can you say about the defense? Superior has given up only three points in the second half this season. Defensive end Anthony Valentine has been all over the field disrupting the offensive efforts of Merrill and East. Helping Valentine dominate on defense are Spencer Nutter, Jordan McDonald, Nolan Holcomb, Trent Olson and Ben Erickson. The offensive line has done a great job and is anchored by center Justin O’Connell.
Last year’s conference champion at 6-1 (10-2 overall), Menomonie is loaded again this season. With two wins to start the season, Menomonie has scored 97 points while allowing only 26.
A perennial playoff participant, the Indians are more offensively diverse than in past years. While Drew Otto, James Heimler and quarterback Neico Stokke have scored a combined nine touchdowns on the ground, Stokke has completed 31-of-35 passes for an 88.6 percent completion rate for four TDs and no interceptions. The always tough defense is led by lineman Andy Kryshak.
The Warriors finished second in the BRC at 5-2 (8-3) and will challenge for the title this season. Returning to lead the offense is all-BRC first-team quarterback Kody Novinska. He has only passed the ball five times in the first two games, but has rushed for 86 yards and four touchdowns. The defense is led by senior and all-BRC first-team defensive lineman Spencer Carr and defensive back Nick Parenteau. Rice Lake (1-1) is scary and effective on both sides of the ball.
The Cardinals are coached by Chuck Raykovich, an UW-Superior grad and outstanding football player. He played his home games at Ole Haugsrud, the home of the Spartans. His Cardinals finished conference play at 5-2 in 2010 and are always in the mix for the conference title. This year will be no exception.
Returning are all-conference lineman Braeden Jensen and tight end Luke Erickson on offense and lineman Dom Goyette (6-4, 285 pounds) and linebacker Grant Schindler.
So far this season the Cardinals (2-0) have scored 89 points and allowed 35, while being led by the running back tandem of Zandy Stowell and Kory Shervey with more than 300 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Quarterback Tyson Kalien has completed 17-of-25 passes (68 percent) for three touchdowns.
The Eau Claire Memorial Old Abes finished fourth last season with a 4-3 record (6-4 overall) and have defeated La Crosse Central and La Crosse Logan by a combined 80-7. Last year’s victory total exceeded their win total of the prior three years, (6-4).
The program is on the rebound from some lean years and graduated some outstanding players in receiver Clint Larsen, running back Rick Caldwell and lineman Dylan Faulker on offense. Defensively lost were linebacker Avery Sega and lineman Chuck Aryes. Returning is second-team BRC Matt Knapp. Kelly O’Leary leads the ground game with three TDs and 146 yards while Joe Rush is outstanding at wide receiver with nine catches for 169 yards and three touchdowns. Knapp plays both ways and is the quarterback, completing 25-of-38 for five TDs.
The Raiders (1-1) lost to No. 2 ranked Kenosha Bradford 33-13 after opening the season by shutting out always tough Wisconsin Rapids, 19-0.
Ranked No. 15 in the latest Wisconsin Sports Network poll, Hudson returns all-conference picks Matt Strachota and Josh Schueller on defense.
Last season at 3-4, 4-5, there was no playoff appearance, and Hudson is hungry for a return to postseason play. Their lofty early ranking indicates that may happen.
Quarterback Luke Miller has two touchdown passes while completing 7-of-13 for 129 yards.
The ground game is shared by Dan Loughney, Frank Snyder and Tyler Melecha, all with double digit carries.
Hudson visits Superior on Sept. 9.
The Wildcats are 2-0 while outscoring their opponents 71-28.
After finishing last season out of the playoffs at 3-4 (4-5), the Wildcats must reload after losing some outstanding players through graduation. Gone are all-BRC selections Kelly Larson, Nick Zimmerman, Jack Herum, Jamie Kozak and Tim Weller. In their two victories, they have been led by Sam Lenzen, 113 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and quarterback Ryan Kusilek with 8-of-10 passing and three TDs.
After finishing last season at 2-5 (2-7), the Eau Claire North Huskies are confident that better days are ahead. North defeated La Crosse Central 19-16 at Carson Park and then lost at La Crosse Logan, 50-13.
Gone are all-conference selections Ausitn Rieder, Gregory Button, Mitch Degrasse and Tyler Herman (Wisconsin’s baseball player of the year) from last year’s squad. Running back Andrew Fischer leads the ground attack with 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Quarterback Adam Faanes has completed 18-of-35 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns. The Huskies are the opponent of the Spartans tonight at Ole Haugsrud Field.
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