BRC PREVIEW: BRC loaded again from top to bottomSpartans hopes to be in mix for BRC title along with Hudson and Menomonie
By: By Don Leighton, For The Telegram, Superior Telegram
It’s hard to believe that after tonight’s game with Eau Claire Memorial, the 2013 regular season will be one-third over.
In the first two weeks of non-conference action, Superior, Rice Lake and Menomonie are 2-0, Eau Claire Memorial, Hudson and River Falls are 1-1, and Eau Claire North and Chippewa Falls have lost both of their contests.
How will each team perform this season?
Injuries will always have a major impact on how a season plays out.
What underclassmen will step forward to provide a major boost?
Tonight begins Big Rivers Conference play for all conference teams, highlighted locally by the Spartans entertaining the Old Abes at 7 p.m. at Ole Haugsrud Field
The weather looks great, the hot dogs will be on the grill, and the Spartans are 2-0 with two decisive victories over Rhinelander and Ashland.
Hudson graduated 41 seniors from last year’s team, including 21 starters, but return first-team defensive lineman Jared Johnson.
“Last year’s conference champs, the Hudson Raiders, look to continue an outstanding program,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “Their program has reached the point where they reload every year. Their enrollment is continuing to rise, they have continuity in their coaching staff, including at the lower levels, and they get the multi-sport athletes out. They will be a top program in the state consistently now.”
Menomonie returns all-conference players in tight end Luke Stanley, running back Dan Jacques, defensive lineman Tim Oakland, and defensive back Marcus Smith. Jacques is third in the conference with 92 rushing yards.
“Menomonie is well-known for their tradition, coaching and numbers,” DeMeyer said. “They love football in Menomonie and the kids put their time in. For many years, Menomonie has been one of the top programs in the state, going deep into the playoffs consistently and winning four state titles. They will be tough again this year with a solid quarterback, tight end and running back, and they are always formidable up front on both sides of the ball.”
The Warriors key players returning are Austin Roberts, a first-team member at linebacker and a second-team selection tight end. Also returning are defensive lineman Jake Zoellick and punter Shawn McGee.
“Rice Lake traditionally has continuity with their coaching staff and the schemes they run and are solid fundamentally,” DeMeyer said. “Every year they may be the most fundamentally sound team we face. They are disciplined and they do things right.
“They return much of the offensive line and a great quarterback. Defensively they have a Division I linebacker (Roberts), and are returning starters in their secondary, defensive line and the other inside linebacker. This may be the toughest team Rice Lake has had in quite a while.”
Eau Claire Memorial
Offensive lineman Micky Sega returns along with running back Aaron Faacks, who leads the BRC in rushing with 171 yards.
“Memorial is always physical and athletic,” DeMeyer said. “This year they have an outstanding quarterback (Ben Everhart), slot receiver (Tyson Humes) and running back Faacks). Defensively they return several players, two very good secondary players, one of the better linebackers in our league and a two way lineman who has started for three years. They are a very good football team again this season.”
The Wild Cats, it is rumored, is running a new scheme offensively that fits their personnel.
“They have athletes at their skill positions and are always good up front,” DeMeyer said. “They lost some of the best athletes in our conference last year, kids that are playing college football this year and will be tough to replace. However, they do very well with their entire program developing kids. They’ll be very competitive, as usual.”
The Cardinals are coached by Chuck Raykovich, who played football at UW-Superior.
He lettered all four years at UWS graduating in 1974. One of his top returning players is linebacker Amos Mayberry.
“Chippewa Falls has many returning starters and their supporting cast of young kids is very solid,” DeMeyer said.
“This group has had a lot of success at the JV and freshman levels and will continue to get better with experience. They are capable of beating anyone in our conference.”
Eau Claire North
Wide receiver Brad Kamenick is back from a Huskie team that finished near the cellar last year.
“North struggled last year but cannot be overlooked this year,” DeMeyer said. “They have a new coach (Josh Fizel) who had a lot of success at Spooner. He’s a high character guy who will get the best out of his players. They always have athletic kids and I’m sure they will again this season. As they gain experience and confidence, I believe they will be a formidable opponent for years to come.”
Junior quarterback Nick Mehlum is leading the BRC in passing with 399 yards and Addison Schwartz is second in the conference with 111 receiving yards.
“Our strength is in our leadership, experience up front in both lines and our chemistry,” DeMeyer said. “This is a very coachable group that works hard, plays together and understands the importance of being a team and not individuals. The majority of our kids have worked hard to prepare themselves; many play other sports, so they know how to practice and how to compete.
“We also have a very unselfish team. They know there is only one football and not everyone gets to run with it, throw it or catch it. It’s been very cool to see, early on, the kids doing things to help their team. From teaching a younger player how to do something, playing on the scout team, cleaning up the locker room to playing a position they may not have wanted to play. They get it-they see the big picture and take pride in their role, whatever it may be. We focus on getting a little better every day, giving our best effort to make our team better.”
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