PREVIEW: Spartans hoping for easier path to playoffsSHS football team wants to avoid a repeat of last season’s early-morning waiting session
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
In 2012 the Superior High School football team didn’t find out until 1:30 a.m. on the Saturday following their season-ending victory over Chippewa Falls that they had qualified for the WIAA playoffs.
SHS head coach Bob DeMeyer hopes to make it a lot easier on the Spartan faithful this season and have his team leave no doubts when it comes to making the playoffs.
“It was certainly an exciting way to find out,” DeMeyer said. “We knew we had a shot, but it was nice and it was a fun week of practice. The kids deserved it. It would have been nice to automatically qualify, but it was a great ending to an awesome season.”
Superior’s season ended a week later with a 35-0 loss to Appleton North in Schofield.
“Even though we lost, it was fun and exciting, a nice way to close out the careers of a bunch of great seniors,” DeMeyer said.
It should have been an easier route to the playoffs, but Superior lost close games to Eau Claire Memorial and River Falls.
“We let those two get away from us,” DeMeyer said. “We felt we could have beaten ECM, and the River Falls game was a tough one to lose with a questionable pass interference call at the end (of the game).
“Had we won one of those games, we wouldn’t have had to play the waiting game.”
DeMeyer currently has 78 kids out this year, including 28 seniors, but he says there’s room for more, especially freshmen and sophomores.
“That’s about where we’ve been at for sophomores to seniors, but we’d like to get our numbers up among ninth- and 10th-graders,” DeMeyer said. “Part of the problem is that the younger kids don’t always get the word (about football starting). But there’s still time for kids to join the team, regardless of experience.”
DeMeyer is hoping junior quarterback Nick Mehlum (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) quickly gains the experience needed to guide the Spartans’ offense. Mehlum is replacing three-year starter Spencer Urban.
“He’s waited his turn, worked hard and has done everything he can to develop skills and progress,”
DeMeyer said. “He’s very coachable, very poised, he’s got tremendous work ethic, all the physical skills to play the position and he’s a very bright kid that understands the game, especially our scheme.”
Backing up Mehlum are junior Austin Arnovich (5-11, 190), and sophomores Beau Reder (6-1, 185) and Caleb Wasserman (5-10, 160).
Senior Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate (5-9, 185) returns as the starting tailback, and seniors Matt Little (5-9, 160) and Wesley Larson (5-9, 160); juniors Deshon Pleau (5-5, 155), Grant Hanson (5-7, 150), Nate Sanders (5-11, 170), Arnovich and Jake Libal (5-11, 175); and sophomore Ross Kennelly (5-10, 175) are among those battling for the remaining starting running back spot.
The Spartans have five players fighting for wide receiver positions: seniors Addison Swartz (6-0, 164), Carter Anderson (5-11, 165), Adam Amys (6-4, 185) and Tyler Anderson (6-2, 175) and junior McKenzie Swartz (6-0, 155), the younger brother of Addison.
“Addison has put in a ton of time to improve. Tyler is another one who worked hard, and Carter, after a year away from the game, came back and has provided a boost for us with his speed and athleticism,” DeMeyer said.
Any success the Spartans enjoy on offense will rely on how the offensive line performs.
“Almost our entire offensive line is back, so they’re a very experienced group,” DeMeyer said. “They’re a very tight group that has worked out together in the offseason and they all get along well.”
Protecting Mehlum and opening holes for the running backs will be seniors Mike Hinaus (5-11, 201), Matt Sanda (6-0, 225), Joey McDonald (6-0, 230), Erick Anderson (6-2, 195) and junior Sam Urban (6-2, 280).
The Spartans will once again employ a 3-5 defense with three defensive linemen, five linebackers and three defensive backs.
This is where the Spartans face the biggest void from last year’s squad with the departure of Ben Erickson, Anthony Valentine, Lukas Gall and Clayton Chruscielski.
“We lost two of the best linebackers we’ve had play here in Erickson and Valentine,” DeMeyer said. “Both were three-year starters, outstanding leaders and kids that knew how to work and be physical. It’s going to be tough to fill those shoes.”
In line to fill the gap are seniors Taavi Mattson (5-6, 155), Andrew Eisenmann (5-11, 185); juniors Jesse Polson (6-0, 180) and Anthony Bronson (6-1, 165); and sophomores Garrett Hobson (6-2, 190) and Kennelly.
Competing for the two outside linebacker positions are senior Aaron Christner (5-10, 165); juniors Libal and Ean Fredericks (6-1, 165); and Reder.
The defensive line, like the offensive line, has plenty of experience returning with seniors Andrew Roske (5-11, 230), Sam Freeman (5-9, 220), William Stream (6-2, 220) and Hinaus; and sophomore Keegan Stanley (6-4, 270).
“This group has been doing very well, including Stream, who has done a nice job at the defensive end spot after playing on the offensive line last year,” DeMeyer said.
The Spartans are also experience in the defensive backfield with senior Morgan Johnson (6-2, 165) returning to play either cornerback or safety, and Sanders at safety after playing outside linebacker last year.
Other defensive backs are seniors Alex Dzikonski (5-11, 160) and Nick VanErt 5-6, 155), and Arnovich.
McKenzie Schwarz will do the kicking once again, and Mehlum and Reder will do the punting.
The Spartans open their season by hosting Rhinelander at 6 p.m. today at Ole Haugsrud Field.
Superior defeated the Hodags 20-7 in last year’s opener at Rhinelander. Wakefield-Zubiate and Spencer Urban had touchdown runs, and Urban threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Valentine for the Spartans’ points.
The Spartans’ second game is Aug. 30 at Ashland, a team Superior hasn’t played in a couple of years.
“We both had an opening so it worked out for us to play each other,” DeMeyer said. “We’d like to play Duluth East again, but we couldn’t work it out this year. Years ago it was a nice rivalry and we’ve had some competitive games. It would be nice to get that going again.”
Despite losing 41 seniors, including 21 starters, Hudson will attempt to defend its Big Rivers Conference championship.
“Hudson’s program is at a point where they have high numbers every year,” DeMeyer said. “We know they’re going to reload, but that’s good, it makes our conference better.
“Menomonie’s in the same boat as Hudson, and after that I think there’s a lot of parity in our conference, it’s pretty open. All of the schools are very well coached and there’s not an easy night on the schedule.”
Eau Claire North has a new coach in Josh Fizel, who previously coached at Spooner.
DeMeyer is also expecting Chippewa Falls to rebound from a one-win season.
“They’ll be back up this year,” DeMeyer said. “They have good numbers and their low-level teams have been good the past couple of years.”
As always one of Superior’s top goals is to make the playoffs.
“Our goal every year is to make the playoffs, but we’re just going to take it one game at a time, one practice, one game, and just work at getting better at what we do. If we do that, the rest will take care of itself,” DeMeyer said. “We’re pretty optimist with where we’re at and with the group of kids we have. The kids have prepared well, we have a number of multi-sport athletes and the kids are excited. They play well together, they’re very coachable, and just an outstanding chemistry among this group.
“That makes it fun and more exciting and it’ll help with our success.”
Varsity: Aaron Anderson, Aaron Frezzey, Sean Graskey, Chad Johnson, Rick Kennelly, Keegan O’Neill, Rich Reder, Rob Scott, Larry Thomas.
JV: Trevor Sorenson (head coach), Andel Brown, Steve Hendry, Shaun Mattson, Geoff Torzewski.
Freshmen: Mike Weinandt (head coach), George Eisenmann, Chris Fuhrman, Nick Olson, Jesse Samarziya, Cole Schorr.
Superior High School
2013 SHS Football Roster
2 Ross Kennelly 10 RL/LB
3 Nick Luoma 10 RL/LB
4 Addison Schwarz 12 HB/DB
5 Taavi Mattson 12 RB/LB
6 Carter Anderson 12 WR/DB
7 Blake Sharpe 11 WR/DB
8 Andrew Christianson 10 RB/DB
9 Nick Mehlum 11 QB/DB
10 Mitch Anderson 10 RB/DB
11 Jon Cronin 10 RB/DB
13 McKenzie Schwarz 11 WR/DB
14 Austin Arnovich 11 QB/DB
15 James Vendela 11 WR/DB
17 Caleb Wasserman 10 QB/LB
18 Brenden French 10 RB/DB
19 Brandon Adams 11 WR/DB
20 Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate 12 RB/DB
21 Tyler Bettschen 12 WR/DB
22 Beau Reder 10 QB/LB
23 Garrett Hobson 10 WR/LB
24 Deshon Pleau 11 HB/DB
25 Jake Libal 11 HB/LB
26 Grant Hanson 11 HB/DB
27 Dan Lewandowski 10 RB/DB
28 Nate Sanders 11 HB/DB
29 Donovan Luoma 10 RB/LB
30 Trent Sikorski 10 WR/DB
31 Harrison Doane 10 RB/LB
32 Kasey Keup 12 HB/DB
34 William Stream 12 WR/DL
35 Morgan Johnson 12 WR/DB
36 Billy Regner 12 RB/LB
37 Aaron Christner 12 WR/DB
38 Josh Tomczak 10 WR/DB
39 Matt Little 12 HB/LB
40 Anthony Ells 11 WR/DB
42 Wesley Larson 12 HB/LB
43 Jesse Polson 11 WR/LB
44 Andrew Roske 12 OL/DL
45 Ean Fredericks 11 WR/LB
46 Matt Hinaus 11 QB/LB
47 Sam Freeman 12 RB/DL
49 Michael McKenzie 10 RB/LB
50 Brandon Foerst 10 OL/DL
51 Tristan Cheselski 11 OL/Dl
52 Andrew Eisemann 12 OL/LB
53 Brett Murray 12 OL/LB
54 Joey Miller 10 OL/DL
55 Mike Hinaus 12 OL/DL
56 Erick Anderson 12 OL/DL
58 Matt Sanda 12 OL/DL
60 Max Oosten 11 OL/DL
61 Travis Drinkwine 12 OL/Dl
63 Kevin Sullivan 11 OL/DL
64 Alex Morro 10 OL/DL
66 Cole Matson 11 OL/DL
67 Alec Ulmer 10 OL/DL
68 Collin Krysiak 11 OL/DL
69 Jay Wojciechowski 11 OL/DL
70 Dalton Derosia 10 OL/DL
71 Jeremiah Johnson 11 OL/DL
72 Sam Urban 11 OL/DL
73 Allen Minter 12 OL/DL
74 Adam Edwards 10 OL/DL
75 Joey McDonald 12 OL/DL
77 Keegan Stanley 10 OL/DL
78 Andrew Erickson 11 OL/DL
80 Anthony Bronson 11 WR/LB
81 Nick Long 10 WR/DB
84 Tyler Anderson 12 WR/DB
86 Nick VanErt 12 WR/DB
87 Alex Dzikonski 12 WR/DB
88 Brandon Neubauer 11 WR/LB
89 Adam Amys 12 WR/DB
91 Adonis Engel 12 OL/DL
92 Phil Runser 12 OL/DL
93 Tony Mohr 11 OL/DL
95 Jeff Troyer 12 OL/DL
98 Lucas Kosobuski 11 OL/DL
Varsity: Nikki Honness, Riley McGrath, Payton Michaud, Sami Roske
JV: Hailey Olson, Sara Thompson, Autumn Nelson, Kaelyn Cain.
Jarrett Gronski and Spencer Gudowski.
Varsity: Coach Amy McCusker, Aleigha Anderson, Questan Barker, Bailey Biwer, Jada Bourassa, Misty Carre, Abigail Delich, Samatha Doller, Rachel King, Brittany Kucinski, Sara Magdzas, Taylor Zambory, Tyler Brue, Alex Ericksen.
JV: Coach Katie Latscher, Tiffany Elm, Ally Gilbertson, Stefanie Goad, Lizzie Lehto, Audra LePage, Jessica Louderbach, Rachel Lundeen, Kylee Maccoux, Karlie Mattson, Makayla Orrey.
Photographer: Kati Reich.
Audio-Visual Tech: Al Reich.
Superior High School
2013 Varsity Football Schedule
Head Coach: Bob DeMeyer
Fri., Aug. 16 Rice Lake Scrimmage, noon
Fri., Aug. 23 vs. Rhinelander, 6 p.m.
Fri., Aug. 30 at Ashland, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 6 vs. Eau Claire Memorial, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 13 at River Falls, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 20 vs. Rice Lake-Homecoming, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 27 at Eau Claire North, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 4 at Hudson, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 11 vs. Menomonie, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 18 at Chippewa Falls, 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 26 WIAA Level I
Sat., Nov. 2 WIAA Level II
Sat., Nov. 9 WIAA Level III
Sat., Nov. 16 WIAA Level IV
Fri., Nov. 22 WIAA State Finals at Madison