Spartans' playoff run stopped by LightningThe Appleton North Lightning showed why they are ranked No. 3 among Division 1 footballs team in Wisconsin by thwarting the Superior High School Spartans at every turn in Level 1 football playoff action at D.C. Everest’s Stiehm Stadium Saturday afternoon.
By: By Don Leighton, For The Telegram, Superior Telegram
SCHOFIELD — The Appleton North Lightning showed why they are ranked No. 3 among Division 1 footballs team in Wisconsin by thwarting the Superior High School Spartans at every turn in Level 1 football playoff action at D.C. Everest’s Stiehm Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Spartans defense, which has played well all season, was up to the task during the first half. A high snap during punt formation from its end zone resulted in a safety giving North a 2-0 lead with 48.2 left seconds in the first quarter.
The Lightning added two touchdowns in the second quarter giving them a 14-0 lead at halftime. Troy Van De Voort hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tanner Schuh at the 11:02 mark and leading rusher Sawyer Schultz hit pay dirt from 2 yards with 20.2 seconds left in the half. Both extra point attempts were blocked by the Spartans.
During that first half, the Lightning defensive unit was the star of the game allowing Superior only five yards rushing on 29 attempts. Passing yardage was about as lean as only 65 yards were recorded giving the Spartans 70 yards of total offense prior to the intermission.
Only allowing the high-powered offense of Appleton 14 points, and still waiting to find their offensive stride, the Spartans and their fans had high hopes for the second half turnaround.
That reversal of fortune did not happen. The Lightning allowed only 18 or their 79 total points allowed during the season in the second half and unfortunately that trend continued during the final two quarters of Saturday’s game.
After Appleton took the second half kickoff, stalled offensively and was forced to punt, the Spartans began to move the ball, but a fumble gave the ball back to the Lightning with 7:53 to go in the third.
Two minutes and two seconds later, Schultz ran in from 8 yards. The successful conversion made the score 21-0.
With 8:53 to go, a Schuh touchdown pass to running back Dan Rothbauer covering 58 yards increased the lead to 28-0 with the successful PAT. Three minutes later, junior running back, Keegan Kruel, scored on a 1-yard run making the score 34-0. Kicker Alex Macke tacked on the final point of the game making the final score 35-0.
“As a whole this is a very special group and we have some very good leaders,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “They work hard and have kept things together, especially when we lost a couple of games in a row.
“The senior leaders pulled the team together last week and we went out and won the game. This week they led a very good week of practice, one of our best of the season.”
For the Spartans, Jaylon Brown rushed for 26 yards; quarterback Spencer Urban was 9-of-24 for 65 yards connecting with Kyle Turkowski four times for 37 yards.
Appleton North was led by Schultz with 125 yards on 21 carries. Schuh completed 14-of-25 passes for 175 yards and Van De Voort caught seven balls for 83 yards.
Superior’s Ben Erickson added 10 more tackles to his resume, six of them unassisted. He totaled 133 tackles with 93 of them being unassisted and is a semifinalist for the John Anderson Award, which is awarded annually to the state’s top senior linebacker.
Erickson entered Saturday’s game fifth in the state in total tackles, first in unassisted.
“He’s the best linebacker in the state,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “He’s a leader in every phase of the game. He’s physical, fast, very bright, understands our scheme, and he prepares himself so he knows what the other team’s going to do out of different formations. He’s an outstanding linebacker, football player.”
While the Spartans end the season with a record of 4-5, Appleton North enters Level 2 playoff action against Stevens Point (9-0), which defeated Green Bay Preble, 45-38 in four overtimes on Friday night.
Despite the lopsided loss, senior lineman Willie Wells was excited to make the playoffs.
“It was a big, this is the greatest feeling I’ve ever had,” Wells said. “Being a Spartan was the most important thing in my life the past four years and the only thing I’ve thought about since I’ve been playing football in the SFL with coach (Brett) Vesel when I was in the fourth grade.”
SHS senior Anthony Valentine echoed Wells’ sentiments.
“It’s a heartbreaker,” Valentine said. “I love my team and I love being on this field. I know it’s going to be the last time, but we played hard every time we were on the field and I know I was going to leave it on the field no matter what.”
SPARTAN SPIN: The final stats for the game were indicative of the final score. Appleton led in first downs, 18-7, total net yards, 328-70, rushing yardage, 153-5, and passing yardage, 175-65. … Superior also lost two fumbles and had two passes intercepted, while Appleton suffered one interception. … One of the coaches for Point is Bill Blake, uncle of SHS graduates Brian (2006), and Chris and Britnee (2009). Brian was an all-state receiver during the 2004 season and Chris was all-state as a defensive back in 2008. Chris currently starts at defensive back for the UMD Bulldogs. During Saturday’s 30-0 homecoming victory over Bemidji State, he had an interception.
Superior 0 0 0 0 — 0
Appleton North 2 12 7 14 — 35
AN—Kenny Cardew safety, :48.2.
AN—Troy Van De Voort 14 pass from Tanner Schuh (kick blocked), 11:02.
AN—Sawyer Schultz 3 run (kick blocked), :20.2.
AN—Schultz 8 run (Alex Macke kick), 5:51.
AN—Dan Rothbauer 58 pass from Schuh (Macke kick), 8:53.
AN—Keegan Kruel 1 run (Macke kick), 5:19.
Passing 10-of-27 14-of-27
Passing Yards 66 163
Rushes-Yards 25-19 32-164
Penalties 11-100 8-79
Fumbles/Lost 3/2 2/0
Passing—S, Spencer Urban 10-27-66. AN, Schuh 14-26-163. Rothbauer 0-1-0.
Rushing—S, Jaylon Brown 10-30; Urban 8-13; Ben Erickson 2-3; Raheem Vann 1-2; Jake Libal 1-(-1); Anthony Valentine 3-(-28). AN, Sawyer Schultz 21-137; Rothbauer 6-26.
Receiving—S, Kyle Turkowski, 4-35; Vann, 3-9; Brown 1-10; Addison Schwarz 1-8; Libal 1-4. AN, Van De Voort 7-78; Rothbauer 2-64; Frank Van Handel 2-12; Sawyer Schultz 2-1; Cole Erickson 1-8;
Defense - Superior
Tot. Solo Asst.
Ben Erickson 10 8 2
Andrew Roske 10 3 7
Anthony Valentine 9 6 3
Willie Wells 9 6 3
Nate Sanders 6 6 0
Chase Michaud 6 4 2
Clayton Chruscielski 4 3 1
Spencer Urban 2 1 1
Sam Freeman 3 2 1
Kyle Turkowski 3 3 0
Jake Libal 1 1 0
Will Stream 1 1 0
Sam Urban 1 1 0
Nik Mattson 1 1 1
Alex Dzidonski 1 1 0
Ross Kennelly 1 1 0
Will Jordan 8 6 2
Conner Rolain 6 4 2
Tyler Fris 5 5 0
Mark Gajewski 4 2 2
Torren Peebles 4 3 1