Undefeated Spartans play at Hudson tonightStanding in the way are Hudson and Menomonie, currently tied with Superior for first place in the BRC and the Spartans’ next two opponents.
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
Fresh off qualifying for the WIAA playoffs, the Superior High School football team has now set its sights on its first ever Big Rivers Conference championship.
Standing in the way are Hudson and Menomonie, currently tied with Superior for first place in the BRC and the Spartans’ next two opponents.
Superior (6-0, 4-0) and Hudson face each other at 7 p.m. today at Newton Field in Hudson.
“We’re very happy that we accomplished one of our team goals, in qualifying for the playoffs,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “Now we’re treating each game now as a playoff game, and each remaining game is extremely critical. We’re playing for a conference title and potential home playoff games, so we know we must have an urgency about what we’re doing each day in practice.”
The Raiders, who are averaging 428 yards in four conference game, enter tonight’s game with records of 5-1 and 4-0. The only blemish is a 43-23 season-opening loss at Minnetonka.
In Hudson’s 47-20 win over Eau Claire Memorial last week, Landry Otten threw for 229 yards and four touchdown passes, and Braden Marvin and Jake Giordana scored two touchdowns each as the Raiders also qualified for the WIAA playoffs.
Marvin caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Otten on the Raiders’ first possession of the game and scored on a 5-yard run later in the quarter to give Hudson a 14-7 lead.
The Raiders broke the game open with three touchdowns in the second quarter, beginning with a 1-yard plunge by Max Gierke. Giordana caught a pair of touchdown passes — from 26 and 17 yards — in the final 1:06 of the half to make it a 34-7 game.
Dayton Diemel scored on an 11-yard run in the third quarter and Hunter Frey caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Otten in the fourth quarter to make the final 47-20.
Otten, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound senior, also threw three touchdown passes in Hudson’s 42-20 victory over the Eau Claire North and a 50-yard scoring pass to Marvin in a 27-13 come-from-behind win over Chippewa Falls.
The Spartans are coming off their second straight come-from-behind victory, a 35-31 win at Eau Claire North.
The Spartans qualified for the playoffs with the win and, for the first time, improved to 4-0 in the BRC. A week earlier, Superior defeated Rice Lake 27-20 on Nick Mehlum’s 4-yard touchdown run with 53 seconds remaining.
“We’ve learned a lot about the true character of our team, to come from behind the last two weeks really shows what we can do,” DeMeyer said. “Rice Lake and North are both very good teams. We knew North has very good athletes, they’re well-coached and they’ve been learning new schemes, gaining confidence each week. If you give a team like that any breaks, they usually gain more momentum, and that’s what they did. I credit that team for being so well-prepared and I credit our boys for fighting through adversity.”
Last week’s win didn’t go down to the wire like against Rice Lake, but it was just as exciting.
With the Spartans leading 28-24 early in the fourth quarter, they forced North to punt. But Superior fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Huskies at the 1-yard line. A play later, ECN was leading 31-28.
The deficit didn’t last long as Jake Libal returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown.
“I’m not sure if Jake’s return is a school record or not, but I do know it was a big time play by a great athlete who knew the urgency of where his team was in the game,” DeMeyer said. “I also know that there were 10 other Spartans on the field laying it on the line on that play to get him to the end zone. We saw it live and it was confirmed when we watched film. Those 10 kids worked their tails off to make it happen, and Jake would be the first to tell you that.”
Mehlum has now connected on 80-of-123 passes for 1,274 yards, 15 touchdown and three interceptions. He is also the team’s leading rusher with 275 yards and a touchdown on 53 carries. Senior Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate was the top ground gainer for the Spartans with 288 yards on 51 carries and four touchdowns before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the Rice Lake game.
Mehlum’s main targets have been Libal, who has 18 receptions for 405 yards and three touchdowns, and Addison Schwarz, 18 catches for 266 yards and four touchdowns.
Carter Anderson also has 10 catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns, and Tyler Anderson has 95 yards on 10 catches.
On defense, sophomore Ross Kennelly leads the way with 47 tackles. Jesse Polson is next with 41 tackles and Willie Stream has 38 tackles, including eight sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
“Our goal is to take it one practice and one game at a time and work to get better each week,” DeMeyer said. “It’s not just coach-speak, our kids really do not talk about stats, winning or losing. They focus on giving their best effort every chance they get, being unselfish and fighting like heck to make their team better.
“Our record is a result of that way of thinking and preparing, period.”
SPARTAN SPIN: John Uchytil was Hudson’s starting quarterback to begin the season but was injured in the Raiders’ win over Chippewa Falls. He was in uniform last week and his status this week in unknown. … Uchytil is the son of former Hudson coach Jerry Uchytil, who played football at UW-Superior and was inducted into the Superior High School Athletic Hall of Fame earlier this year. .. Before his injury, Uchytil completed 15-of-27 passes for 350 yards with three touchdowns. … SHS junior kicker McKenzie Schwarz is 2-of-3 on field goal attempts and 29-of-29 on extra-point kicks.