Erickson: SHS’s tackling machineState’s leading tackler leads SHS into showdown with undefeated Hudson
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
The Superior High School football team will take a two-game winning streak into tonight’s homecoming contest against the Hudson Raiders.
When the game begins at 7 p.m. at Ole Haugsrud Field, the Spartans will be relying on a running game that saw the emergence of senior Jaylon Brown in last week’s 44-3 win over Eau Claire North.
Brown rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns in his first start of the season as Superior improved to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the Big Rivers Conference.
Even more importantly, Superior will need another big game from its defense, which is led by senior Ben Erickson.
Erickson, a linebacker in Superior’s 3-5 defense (three linemen, five linebackers), currently leads the state with 58 solo tackles. Add on 16 assisted tackles and he is fourth in the state with 75 total tackles.
New Lisbon’s Matthias Haschke leads the state with 90 tackles, but only 19 of those are solo tackles.
Erickson also has nine tackles for losses, 5 ½ sacks and one interception.
“He has, in my opinion, been the best player on the field in every one of our games,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “He’s in on a lot of tackles every game. Not just grabbing tackles, he’s putting pads on kids just the way you should. He’s a very physical football player.
“He’s the best linebacker in our conference and there are some studs in the Big Rivers Conference. The kids from Menomonie and Rice Lake are the real deals, but I’d take Ben over any of them. He’s the same quality person, too. He’s a great student, a great kid, just a great all-around human being.”
Erickson’s big games this season have included 20 tackles against Rice Lake, 18 against River Falls and 17 against Rhinelander.
“The D-tackles (Andrew Roske, Willie Wells and Sam Freeman) are what helps me get tackles and makes the whole defense work,” Erickson said. “They have the motor, and they work hard and they get downhill. Any tackles by our linebackers are because of them, and I thank them every play.
“When they get downhill quick and apply pressure in the backfield, our linebackers and D-back don’t have to be perfect every play. All of our defensive success is because of the play of our defensive line.”
Brown, who is also a linebacker with Erickson, has also been impressed with the Spartans’ defense.
“The defense did a great job last week,” Brown said. “We held them to just three points, that was a goal for us. We were just clicking. We had a few penalties, but we’ll get past that.”
DeMeyer also credited the special teams, which included a 34-yard field goal by McKenzie Schwarz.
“Our special teams did a great job,” DeMeyer said. “The field position battle was on our side Friday tonight and that was because of our kickoff and punting units.”
The Spartans will need to be clicking on all cylinders tonight against the Raiders, who enter the game undefeated at 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the BRC.
“Hudson’s big, they’re physical and they execute well,” DeMeyer said. “They run a triple option much like Rice Lake and they throw out of the shotgun like us.
“They’re a very well coached team, they have athletes, they have numbers and they’ve done a nice job of building their program. It will be a real test for us.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Tonight’s game will be carried live online at ifan.tv and on the radio at WEBC/ESPN 560 a.m. … Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate leads Superior in rushing with 298 yards on 48 carries; Jack Kline has 19 receptions for 179 yards and Erickson and Kyle Turkowski both have 12 catches for 164 yards. … Quarterback Spencer Urban is 55-for-123 for 639 yards and six touchdowns. He also leads the team with four touchdown runs for 24 points. … Anthony Valentine is second with 43 tackles, including 23 solo.
Tackles TFL Sck Int
Rhinelander 11-6-17 1 0.5 0
Eau Claire Mem. 7-2-9 3 1 0
River Falls 15-3-18 0 2 0
Rice Lake 16-4-20 3 1 0
Eau Claire No. 9-1-10 2 0 1
Totals 58-16-74 9 5.5 1