Spartan football team makes WIAA playoffsSuperior plays Appleton North at 2 p.m. Saturday at D.C. Everest in Schofield.
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
The Superior High School football team was invited to the WIAA playoffs after its 28-8 win over the Chippewa Falls Cardinals Friday night at Ole Haugsrud Field.
With the win the Spartans were left with records of 4-4 overall and 3-4 in the Big Rivers Conference.
Because having a winning conference record is the first criteria for making the playoffs, the Spartan players and coaches thought they were leaving the field for the final time this season.
That all changed at 1:13 a.m. Saturday when the official playoff field was released and Superior was among the 224 teams to make the tournament.
The Spartans were given the No. 8 seed in Group A and will play No. 1 seed Appleton North (8-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday at D.C. Everest in Schofield. The Lightning are currently ranked No.3 in the state.
“This is great,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “These kids have worked hard all season and deserve it. We know we’re going to have a long trip ahead of us, but we’re ready to go anywhere and line up against anybody.”
The other Group A games include: No. 5 Green Bay Preble at No. 4 Stevens Point; No. 6 D.C. Everest at No 3 Bay Port and No. 7 Eau Claire Memorial at No. 2 Hudson. Those three games are at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s definitely been an emotion rollercoaster, but when we go to the playoffs it’s a new season and anything can happen,” SHS senior Ben Erickson said. “Friday night we had a lot of momentum and thought we grew as a team. We were aggressive, excited and hungry to be out there. That helped a lot of these guys know that we can play with anyone. We just need to play together, play smart and execute.”
The Spartans will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 when they lost to D.C. Everest 24-21 thanks to seven lost fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Superior ended a 16-year playoff absence when it made the playoffs in 2007. That season also ended with a loss to D.C. Everest, 50-20.
The Spartans stayed alive Friday night by getting touchdown runs from Anthony Valentine, Willie Wells, Jake Libal and Spencer Urban.
“I’m very proud of the guys,” DeMeyer said. “We talked about what we had to do to win and the team went out and did them. The biggest thing was that we took care of the football.”
The Cardinals (1-7, 1-6) avoided being shut out on Dalton West’s 23-yard touchdown run and Tony Blair’s two-point conversion pass to Chase Antolak with 1:34 remaining.
Superior’s Jaylon Brown led all players with 121 yards rushing on 20 carries. Urban completed 7-of-19 passes for 118 yards. His main target was Kyle Turkowski, who caught five passes for 86 yards. The two also connected on a two-point conversion after Urban’s 27-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
On defense, Erickson kept pace among the states leading tacklers with 16 tackles, seven solo and nine assists.
For Chippewa Falls, quarterback Tony Blair completed 4-of-16 passes for 16 yards and Kyle Webb rushed for 51 yards on seven carries.
Valentine gave Superior a 7-0 lead with a 4-yard touchdown untouched around the left end with 8:09 left in the first quarter.
“I had great blocking, my blockers did it all,” Valentine said. “I just ran behind them, it was a clear path.”
The Spartans took a 14-0 lead when Wells, a defensive lineman, plowed into the end zone from 2 yards out with 9:09 left in the first half. McKenzie Schwarz’s extra-point kick put the finishing touches on a 14-play, 82-yard drive.
“The last time I touched the football I was hauled off on a stretcher when I was a sophomore,” Wells said. “I was a running back then and have been on defense ever since.”
Wells suffered a neck stinger and was taken from the field on a stretcher.
“I was just a precautionary thing, but I never did run the ball again until Friday.”
The play, called “Freight Train,” was put in last week especially for Wells.
“Coach D (DeMeyer) knew I wanted to touch the ball since I was a running back and when he put the biggest guys, Andrew Roske and Clayton Chruscielski, in to block for me, I knew I was going to get it. We practiced it all week and I told coach it was my shot at glory.”
The score went to 20-0 when Libal took a pitch from Urban and ran around the right end for a 1-yard touchdown. Willie Stream set up the score when he recovered a fumble at the Cardinals’ 22-yard line.
Superior’s final score came with 7:25 left in the third quarter when Urban faked a handoff and ran untouched for 27 yards around the left end. Urban also threw a pass to Turkowski for the two-point conversion.
Superior was able to thwart any chance of a Chippewa Falls rally down the stretch by forcing a pair of fumbles.
Wells knocked the ball loose and Lukas Gall recovered a fumble with 4:45 left in the third quarter and Ross Kennelly forced a fumble which was grabbed by Alex Dzikonski with less than five minutes remaining.
“I didn’t know I knocked it loose at first, but then saw three guys fighting for it and Lukas came out with it,” Wells said.
SPARTAN SPIN: Friday was senior night. Honored prior to the game were: Trent Olson, Brown, Raheem Vann, Josh Brand, Urban, Erickson, Chruscielski, Gall, Tony Schroeder, Valentine, Spencer Severson, Wells, Jack Kline, Nik Mattson, Turkowski, Brandon Gustafson and Dylan Garrow. … Saturday’s game will be carried live online at ifan.tv. … Hudson (8-0, 7-0) clinched the BRC championship with a 34-7 over Menomonie (7-1, 6-1).
For the first time since the WIAA playoffs began in the late 1970s, four teams with losing conference records will be playing in the postseason. Those teams are Superior, Lake Mills, Pacelli and Edgerton.
The following statement was listed online at www.wissports.net:
“In looking at which teams under .500 to make the playoffs, the first tiebreaker is overall record. Lake Mills makes it based on their 5-3 overall mark. A total of 17 teams tied with 4-4 overall records, with just three spots available. The next tiebreaker is combined conference-only winning percentage of defeated conference opponents. Basically it rewards teams that got a win over one of the better teams in the conference. Edgerton had a combined winning percentage of .5238 and is in. Pacelli and Superior were next at .2380 and fill the last two spots.”
With that said, the Spartans’ win over Rice Lake (5-3, 4-3) played a key role in them making the playoffs. Superior defeated Rice Lake 17-14 and Rice Lake defeated River Falls (4-3, 3-4) 46-35.
Chippewa Falls 0 0 0 8 — 8
Superior 7 13 8 0 — 28
SHS—Anthony Valentine 4-yard run (McKenzie Schwarz kick), 8:09.
SHS—Willie Wells 2-yard run (Schwarz kick), 9:09.
SHS—Jake Libal 2-yard run (kick blocked), 3:24.
SHS—Spencer Urban 27-yard run (Urban pass to Kyle Turkowski), 7:25.
CF—Dalton West 23-yard run (Tony Blair pass to Chase Antolak), 1:34.
Passing 4-17-16 7-20-118
Rushing 41-190 49-238
Penalties 3-12 7-65
First Downs 11 14
Fumbles/lost 3-3 0-0
Interceptions 0 1
Passing—CF, Tony Blair 4-16-16. SHS—Spencer Urban 7-19-118.
Rushing—CF, Kyle Webb 7-51; Dalton West 9-42; Jacob Rubenzer 11-41; Nathan Sylte 8-26; Drew Steinmetz 4-12; Alex Ignarski 1-5. SHS—Jaylon Brown 20-121; Urban 8-46; Anthony Valentine 4-23; Ben Erickson 4-19; Jake Libal 5-12; Willie Wells 2-6; Ross Kennelly, 2-6; Raheem Vaan 3-5; Nick Mehlum, 1-0.
Receiving—CF, Nate Kalien 1-5; Kyle Webb 1-(-8); Dalton West 1-10. SHS—Kyle Turkowski 5-86; Vann 1-12; Erickson 1-20.
Tackles—CF, Nathan Sylte 12; Amos Mayberry 10; Jacob Rubenzer 7; Dakota Schofield 6; Doug Schneider 6; Alex Ignarski 5. SHS, Erickson 16 (7-9); Valentine 12 (7-5); Lukas Gall 8 (6-2); Morgan Johnson 7; Chase Micahud 5; Andrew Roske 5; Wells 5; Nik Mattson 4; Kyle Turkowski 3; Kennelly 2; Taavi Mattson 2; Clayton Chruscielski 2; Alex Dzikonski 2; Jaylon Brown 1; Nate Sanders 1; Libal 1; Kyler Krob 1; Jeff Troyer 1.