BRC Preview: Hudson, Menomonie teams to beat in Big Rivers Conference
By: By Don Leighton, For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
After defeating the Rhinelander Hodags 20-7 last Friday in the inaugural game of the season, the Superior High School football team is on the road again, facing Eau Claire Memorial at Carson Park.
ECM lost to La Crosse Central 9-7 last week at La Crosse. Kickoff at Carson Park is 7 p.m., and the game can be seen on ifan.tv.
Tonight’s games mark the beginning of conference play in the Big Rivers Conference.
Bob DeMeyer, in his seventh season as head coach of the Spartans, agreed to a sit-down interview to talk about this year’s team. He is involved on a year-round basis with his program, spending hundreds of hours to prepare for each season.
The fact he made time in his busy schedule to answer a few questions is very much appreciated.
DL: What is the biggest challenge facing the team this year?
BD: Inexperience on the defensive side of the ball and on the offensive line.
DL : What are the biggest challenges facing the coaching staff?
BD: Building on team chemistry, helping the players believe in themselves and their teammates and getting that “expect to win” attitude back. Overcoming that “here we go again” mentality. It’s no secret we’ve had our struggles the past few seasons. However, I feel last year’s team got us back on track. This year our kids have to realize that we will face adverse situations and we need to push through and not hang our heads.
DL: How do you think the Spartans will do in the Big Rivers Conference?
BD: We believe we’ll be competitive in each conference game. If we can stay healthy and get more consistent up front, we can play with anyone.
DL: What are your strengths and weaknesses as a team?
BD: We really have some very strong leaders. They understand the demands of a student-athlete, the commitment it takes and how to compete. They’ve done a nice job in the offseason teaching younger players how to prepare to be a high school athlete. Although we would have loved to have had more kids here this past summer, we had great numbers in our Bigger Faster Stronger program, and those that pushed themselves improved tremendously.
As far as weaknesses are concerned, we have a lack of depth and inexperience. We’re installing a new defense, one that fits our personnel better. We’re very excited about how the kids are catching on and the potential we have on defense. However, we know that with a new defense, there will be some growing pains and things all of us will learn along the way. On the offensive side, we’re entering our third year with this offense, and it’s very apparent that our players and coaches have a very good understanding of it.
DL: What are your thoughts on two-way players?
BD: We really try to avoid playing kids on both sides of the ball. However, because we’re still not where we want to be in terms of numbers, we’re still forced to have some two-way players. We thought we were going to have a few more top notch athletes come out this season. Unfortunately, we didn’t get them out. Our numbers in grades 10-12 are good, about 84-87. We just don’t want to put kids in a varsity game if they’re not ready, physically and mentally. Anthony Valentine, Ben Erickson, Spencer Urban and Trent Olson are players that have paid the price in the offseason preparing to play at a high level. They are experienced leaders we know we can count on.
DL : What is your impression of the BRC this year?
BD : Hudson has the size of a small college team and numbers at every level. They will be in the battle for the top spot in the BRC. They’ve run triple option football for years and have tremendous team speed this year to go along with their size.
Menomonie will have another very solid team. They lost a heartbreaker in the state semifinal game last season. They’ve lost a lot of players from that team, but they reload and have been very successful at the lower levels. They have tremendous tradition. They love football in Menomonie and support their team; the community, the school district, the student body — everyone. They have run the same scheme for many years and do things very well. They are also extremely disciplined, very well coached and very confident in their abilities.
Chippewa Falls is another program that has been very solid for many years. They have the numbers at each level, and their athletes know how to prepare themselves in the offseason. Many of their kids are multi-sport athletes; wrestlers, basketball players, hockey players, baseball players, track athletes, etc. Their programs really seem to support each other and work well together.
River Falls has steadily improved its program over the last few years. They have learned the scheme of the new coaching staff and always have a few special athletes each year.
Eau Claire North is very athletic this year, as they always are. They are getting better at their spread offense and can score very quickly. I believe they will be much improved this season.
Rice Lake has played option football and the 5-2 defense for a million years. They have continuity in their coaching staff, they run the same schemes in their feeder programs and by the time they are at the varsity level, they do it to perfection. They will always be in the mix because they are so disciplined and fundamentally sound.
Eau Claire Memorial may not have the size of last year’s team, but they have the athleticism. Their feeder programs are great. Losing to Menomonie in the final regular season game last year, in four overtimes, probably factored in to losing in level one of the playoffs to D.C. Everest. On film they look like they’ll be one of the better teams in the BRC again after sharing the title with Menomonie.
DL: Great luck to all. Thanks, Coach DeMeyer.