Spartans host Duluth East
Superior High School football coach Bob DeMeyer wishes he could have four plays back from Friday's season opener at Medford.
Give him back those plays and there's no doubt in his mind that his Spartans would be 1-0 heading into tonight's home opener against Duluth East. Instead, the Spartans are taking a 0-1 record into the Greyhound contest after a 26-15 loss to the Raiders.
Tonight's game begins at 6.
"We feel we let one get away," DeMeyer said. "That was a game that we could have, and should have, won. After looking at it on film, and finding all the little mistakes we made, we really feel we outplayed Medford."
The Spartans outgained the Raiders 263-244 in total yards, had one more first down (13-12), had a 62-35 advantage in plays and had possession of the ball for 31 minutes, 47 seconds compared to 19:13 for Medford.
That's where the four blown plays come in:
1. Medford's first score was a 26-yard TD pass on fourth down.
2. Medford's Adam Harder returned a kickoff 64 yards for a TD.
3. Andrew Carlson returned an interception 60 yards for a TD.
4. Cole Garczynski had a 47-yard touchdown run with 3:19 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"We knew the long pass was coming, that was a play we practiced on all week long," DeMeyer said. "We just got caught out of position.
"Then on the long run at the end, we counted six mistakes on that play alone. That kid is a very good runner and we were holding him to 60 yards and no scores. Then he busted a long one on us.
"All of those mistakes are fixable. So are our five turnovers. To be in a game against a good team like that and turn the ball over five times, shows just how well we played."
DeMeyer's biggest question going into the opener was how hard his team was going to play.
"The kids answered the big question the coaching staff had as far as what kind of intensity they were going to bring," DeMeyer said. "Do we have the kind of team that wants to hit and be physical? We found out we did. That's the biggest positive -- they came to play and played with controlled emotion and intensity."
Sophomore quarterback Joe Reichert completed 7-of-17 passes for 81 yards, but he threw four interceptions in his varsity debut.
"He did well," DeMeyer said. "He made some rookie mistakes playing his first time on Friday night, but the mistakes he made were very understanding. At times he was over excited, trying to make something happen and he may have gotten flustered at times. But he's a pretty level kid and learns from his mistakes and I don't see him making those kind of mistakes as often as he did. He's going to get better every game."
The Spartans came out of the Medford game healthy, but the team has been hit by the bug this week.
"We have a number of kids with colds and one key back-up player hasn't been at practice all week," DeMeyer said. "If we can get over that, we're pretty much at full strength."
While Superior has already played a game, tonight's game will be East's first.
"I don't look at having a game under our belts as a huge advantage," DeMeyer said. "It's certainly going to help, we've gotten some reps in and are starting to get what we're trying to do. But their coach (Joe Hietala) has been there for five years, so they're basically running the same system and should be ready."
The Spartans were able to get a peek at East at their scrimmage recently at Hermantown.
"They're a solid team," DeMeyer said. "They're big up front on both sides (of the line) and they have some kids that can run."
The Greyhounds' offensive philosophy is to spread it out and try to throw the ball out of the shotgun. They're key players on offense are running back Keegan Flaherty and quarterback Matt Kilpo. Both are juniors.
"They want to get him the ball as much as they can," DeMeyer said. "He'll carry the ball and they can throw to him, also."
On defense for Superior last Friday, Max Phillips had seven tackles, Matt Johnson six, Mike VanMassenhove, Chris Blake and Sean Graskey four each. VanMassenhove also had an interception "We had a lot of people getting to the ball and were physical," DeMeyer said. "We need to work on better tackling, but we liked what we saw as far as intensity and how physical we were."
On offense the Spartans have been working on having their running backs hit the holes faster.
"We have to get them to stop hesitating, start realizing that there's not going to be a big hole every time," DeMeyer said. "We're working on running hard and having confidence that there's going to be a seam there. Then they have to hit it and don't hesitate.
Cole Lundgren rushed for 57 yards, followed by Reichert 49, Blake 31, Addison Griffin 23, Graskey 22 and Johnson 3.
"None of these kids have ever carried the ball before so they have to learn to be more physical, turn it on and run over and around people," DeMeyer said. "They all need to use their athleticism, speed and toughness. They're all capable of it."
SPARTAN SPIN: The game can be heard locally on KUWS 91.3. It can also be seen on the Internet at www.ifan.tv.com.