Ole Haugsrud swan song?Tonight’s game with Menomonie may be Spartans’ final game at historic football field
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
Tonight’s football game between the Superior High School Spartans and Menomonie Mustangs was already considered to be one of the biggest games in recent memory for the city of Superior.
It just got a lot bigger.
Not only are the Spartans (6-1, 4-1) and Mustangs (7-0, 5-0) still in the hunt for the Big Rivers Conference championship, but now, thanks to news Monday night that SHS may be getting a new football stadium next season, tonight’s game may be the last time the Spartans play at Ole Haugsrud Field.
“It’s a very exciting time,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “There are so many people that love Ole Haugsrud and what it meant to play or watch games there. For that reason it’s kind of bittersweet, because of the history and tradition, the icon at the center of our town. Personally, I started as a ball boy in the 1970s and played there from Pony League through college.”
Despite all of the excitement, especially among the younger members of the Spartans who will get to play on the new field, DeMeyer believes it won’t be a distraction when the ball is kicked off at 7 p.m.
“Our kids know there’s certainly a huge urgency with this game,” DeMeyer said. “There’s a lot at stake. There’s a conference championship on the line and there’s playoff seeding implications. It’s just a big game and we want to knock off Menomonie.
“We know we have to play a near perfect game to do that. We have to eliminate the mental mistakes, execute, and if we do that, I like our chances.”
Menomonie enters tonight’s game allowing just six points, a long touchdown pass in last week’s 42-6 win over Eau Claire North.
“They have a great football program,” DeMeyer said. “They’re fast and physical, so we just have to execute, block, stay with our blocks, work hard and hang on to the football.
“We simply have to play our best and do what we’re capable of.”
There are a couple of ways the Spartans can still clinch a BRC title. If Superior wins its next two games, Hudson loses tonight at River Falls and Menomonie beats Hudson next week, the Spartans would share the title with the Mustangs.
A three-way tie would take place if Superior wins its final two games and Hudson defeats River Falls, but loses to Menomonie. Then all three teams would have 6-1 conference records and share the title.
If one of those things happen, Superior could possibly host a Level 1 playoff game.
“We just have to focus on what we can control right now,” DeMeyer said. “We just need to prepare to beat Menomonie, then worry about Chippewa Falls and the playoffs. That’s what we’ve been doing all season long.”
Senior offensive lineman Mike Hinaus agrees with his coach.
“We’d love to host a playoff game,” Hinaus said. “But we know that Menomonie is a very good team and we’re going to have to play well to beat them.
“Our guys are really fired up. It’s our last home game and maybe the last game at Ole ever, but we also know there’s still a lot at stake.”
Unofficially, Menomonie’s offense is led by quarterback Nat Stanley, who has completed 38-of-69 passes for 711 yards and 14 touchdowns. Luke Stanley leads the team with 15 catches for 418 yards and seven touchdowns. Colton Tarter also had four TD catches and Cole Warner had two. Derek Kahl and Dan Jacques lead the Mustangs on the ground with 410 and 376 yards rushing, respectively.
The Spartans are led by junior quarterback Nick Mehlum, who is 104-for-162 passing for 1,621 yards and 17 TDs. He also leads the team on the ground with 307 yards and five touchdowns.
Jake Libal had 24 catches for 482 yards, and Addison Schwarz has caught 28 passes for 423 yards. Those two, along with Carter Anderson, all have four touchdowns.
The Spartans started a day early in preparing for tonight’s game.
“Instead of taking a ‘Mental Monday,’ what we normally do, we were hitting the pads right away in practice,” Hinaus said. “We started getting ready right away, tweaking what we need to.
“It’ll be a good game; they have a very good team.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Since joining the BRC in 2002, Superior is 0-12 against Menomonie.
Haugsrud Field was built in 1954 on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus and was originally known as Memorial Field. On Oct. 23, 1976, UWS renamed and dedicated the field Ole Haugrsud Memorial Field.
Oluf “Ole” Haugsrud, a 1921 graduate of Superior Central High School, was a Superior businessman who owned the Duluth Eskimos, helped form the Minnesota Vikings in 1960. He was a stockholder and the first chairman of the board of directors and in 1966 was elected vice-president of the team.
Haugsrud is a member of the National Football Hall of Fame as well as the UWS and SHS halls of fame.