UPDATED: Spartans open season with win over HodagsThe Superior High School football team opened the prep football season with a 20-7 win over the Rhinelander Hodags Friday night at Rhinelander.
RHINELANDER — The Superior High School football team opened the prep football season with a 20-7 win over the Rhinelander Hodags Friday night at Rhinelander.
Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate led the Spartans in rushing with 165 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown run, on 25 carries.
The Spartans also gained 143 yards through the air as senior quarterback Spencer Urban completed 11-of-21 passes, including a 6-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Valentine. Urban also rushed for a 1-yard touchdown.
Urban’s main targets were Kyle Turkowski, who caught four catches for 33 yards, and Ben Erickson, who gained 60 yards on three catches.
The Hodags, who were outgained in total yards 345-261, got 91 yards rushing on 18 carries from Connor Johnson. Quarterback John Konz was 8-of-21 passing for 85 yards, with Luke Durkee and Zach Rinehart catching two passes apiece.
Erickson also led the Spartans on defense with 14 tackles, including 11 solo. Valentine was next with eight tackles, including five solo.
“Aside from early season mistakes, the costly turnovers, I thought we played well,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “I liked the effort our kids gave the entire game, on offense, defense and special teams. There were some outstanding individual efforts and really a nice total team effort.
“Erickson had one of the best games of any defensive player we’ve had; Andrew Roske played very well at defensive end, as did Willie Wells; and Wakefield-Zubiate had an outstanding game running the ball, because of his experience as a returning starter and the offensive line in front of him.”
DeMeyer said Wakefield-Zubiate’s running success was a credit to the play of the offensive line.
“That unit has been a question mark all offseason and they’re really coming along well,” DeMeyer said. “They’re all underclassmen with Erick Anderson being the only returning starter. Joey McDonald, Will Stream, Mike Hinaus and Sam Urban all were very steady.”
After Superior’s first series of the game ended with a Vince Berry interception, the Spartans got the ball back and took a 7-0 lead on Wakefield-Zubiate’s 36-yard touchdown run.
On Superior’s fifth play on its second drive, Wakefield-Zubiate took the handoff from Urban, broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and ran the rest of the way untouched for the score. McKenzie Schwarz kicked the extra point.
After Superior failed to capitalize on Jaylon Brown’s fumble recovery, the Hodags tied the game up on Johnson’s 3-yard touchdown run and Austyn Zarda’s kick with 4:38 left in the first quarter.
The Spartans and Hodags then played a game of give away for the remainder of the first quarter as Wakefield-Zubiate fumbled at the Hodag 7-yard line and on the next play Superior’s Nik Mattson recovered a Rhinelander fumble at the 34.
Superior took a 14-7 lead on its first drive of the second quarter when Urban scored from 1 yard out and Schwarz booted the extra point.
Rhinelander took the next kickoff and drove inside Superior’s 10-yard line, but an illegal procedure penalty was followed by the Spartans stopping the Hodags on fourth down at the 9-yard line with less than three minutes remaining in the first half.
After going 3-and-out on its next possession, Superior’s defense came through again and forced Rhinelander to turn the ball over on downs at the 23-yard line with less than a minute remaining before the intermission.
The third quarter featured long drives by both teams, but neither team was able to score points.
Superior increased its lead to 20-7 with Urban’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Valentine with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. The extra-point attempt was blocked.
After Rhinelander drove the ball deep inside Superior territory, Clayton Chruscielski sreturned an interception to midfield.
Superior moved inside Rhinelander territory, but the Hodags recovered a Spartan fumble with 2:15 remaining.
Superior got the ball back 50 seconds later when Andrew Roske recovered a fumble.
The Spartans finally ran out the final 1:25 of the game with three straight runs.
“Obviously we want to be on the plus side of turnovers because it’s a winning formula,” DeMeyer said. “We stress takeaways on defense and ball security on offense. Prior to Friday night, we had only turned the ball over one time all preseason. We have to take care of the football, period. One fumble probably took a touchdown off the board and the other stopped our drive when we could have put the game away.”
The Spartans begin play in the Big Rivers Conference against Eau Claire Memorial at 7 p.m. on Friday at Carson Park in Eau Claire. The Old Abes lost their season opener 9-7 to La Crosse Central.
“Memorial is a very good team,” DeMeyer said. “They lost a lot of seniors, however, their young kids are athletic, physical football players. They were beat by La Crosse Central because they turned the ball over four times. Central is too good this year to make those kind of mistakes.
“Memorial has another very good offense, running between the tackles and the speed to get to the perimeter. They have a good young quarterback and a weapon at receiver in the Davis kid. And defensively they are very fundamentally sound and aggressive getting to the ball. They have a few returning starters, two at linebacker and a corner that has moved to safety, Chas Nicolet. They are always well-prepared, as their defensive coordinator, Al Sega, is as good as anyone getting a team ready.”
DeMeyer also said the Spartans will need to focus this week on getting better fundamentally and eliminating penalties and turnovers.
“We have to block and tackle better and we have to take care of the football,” DeMeyer said. “If we do those things, I like our chances. If we do not, it could be a long night. I’m confident our kids will accept the challenge and continue improving.”
Superior Spartans at Rhinelander Hodags
Superior 7 7 0 6 — 20
Rhinelander 7 0 0 0 — 7
SHS—Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate, 36-yard run (McKenzie Schwartz kick), 8:09.
RHS—Connor Johnson, 3-yard run (Austyn Zarda kick), 4:38.
SHS—Spencer Urban, 1-yard run (Schwartz kick), 9:50.
SHS—Anthony Valentine 6-yard pass from Urban (kick blocked), 6:00.
First Downs 13 17
First Downs: R-P-Pen 10-3-0 9-7-1
Rushing Yards 176 202
Passing: Comp.–Att. 8/21 11/21
Passing Yards 85 143
Passing: TDs–Int 0/1 2/1
Total Plays 62 60
Total Offense 261 345
Fumbles-Lost 4/0 2/0
Penalties-Yards 5/30 7/50
Def. Sacks-Yards Lost 0/0 1/-22
Time of Possession 26:24 21:36
3rd Down Eff. 5-of-14 5-of-12
4th Down Eff. 0-of-3 1-of-2
Punts-Avg. 2/34.5 2/39.5
SHS—Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate, 25-165; Anthony Valentine, 2-16; Spencer Urban, 11-11; Ben Erickson, 1-10. RHS—Connor Johnson, 18-91; Dylon Wilmot, 3-42; Richard Klaver, 10-39; No. 1, 1-5; Luke Linsmeyer, 1-4; Zach Rinehart, 1-2; John Konz, 7-(-7).
Superior—Urban 11-21—143. RHL—Konz, 8-21—85.
SHS—Kyle Turkowski, 4-33; Ben Erickson, 3-60; Jack Kline, 2-32; Wakefield-Zubiate, 1-12; Anthony Valentine, 1-6. RSH—Luke Durkee, 2-35; Rinehart, 2-22; No. 12, 1-13; Levi Haskins, 1-8; No. 5, 1-6; Wilmot, 1-1.
SHS—Clayton Chruscielski. RHL—No. Vince Berry.
Tkl Solo Ast Sac TFL
Ben Erickson 14 11 6 .5 1
Anthony Valentine 8 5 6 0 0
Morgan Johnson 4.5 4 1 0 0
Jake Libal 4.5 3 3 0 0
Jaylon Brown 4 2 4 0 .5
Andrew Roske 3.5 3 1 0 0
Willie Wells 3.5 2 3 .5 1.5
Trent Olson 3.5 1 5 0 0
Nik Mattson 2.5 2 1 0 0
Spencer Urban 1 1 0 0 0
Sam Freeman 0.5 0 1 0 0
Lukas Gall 0.5 0 1 0 0
Chruscielski Clayton 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 50 34 32 1 3
Joe Oradei 5 4 2 0 0
Dylon Wilmot 5 3 4 0 1
Levi Haskins 4.5 3 3 0 1
Richard Klaver 4 2 4 0 0
Matt Quade 3.5 3 1 0 0
No. 52 3.5 2 3 0 0
No. 1 3 1 4 0 0
Luke Linsmeyer 2.5 2 1 0 0
Connor Johnson 2 2 0 0 1
Alec Baumgartner 2 2 0 0 0
No. 12 1.5 1 1 0 0
No. 22 1.5 1 1 0 0
Zach Rinehart 1 1 0 0 0
Tyler Michel 1 0 2 0 0
Totals 40 27 26 0 3