Injuries taking toll on SHS football team
For the first time this season, the Superior High School football team has been hit by the injury bug.
Heading into Friday night's game at Chippewa Falls, the Spartans are hurting a bit on defense, especially in the backfield.
"This is the first week we kind of got hit by injuries," SHS coach DeMeyer said. "We're especially thin at linebacker and defensive back, and may be missing a number of starters. But on the other hand, this will give some other kids a chance to play."
Questionable for Friday's game are Derek Danielson (ill), Jake Bachinski (fractured foot), Matt Johnson (shoulder), Addison Griffin (minor concussion) and Jesse Covill (knee).
"Derek's sick again and is questionable. We're hoping that he'll be able to practice, but we'll know later," DeMeyer said. "Both Jake and Matt are probably out, but Nate Hendry (shoulder) is back, but his playing time still may be limited."
One player that has been able to stay on the field is senior wide receiver and defensive back Mike VanMassenhove.
VanMassenhove is the only wide out remaining from last season's four-wide receiver spread. Two receivers from last year, Sean Graskey and Brian Pierpont, are running backs this season.
"From four to one, I actually like it," VanMassenhove said. "Last year I was having trouble blocking, but this year I'm a lot stronger, so I'm able to be the only receiver and block the guy out there. We run a lot of sweeps and options to my side, but I'm actually all right with it. If we do need a first down I know I'll be the first guy they look for."
That was exactly the case early in last Friday's game against Eau Claire Memorial. With the game still scoreless, sophomore quarterback Joe Reichert found a wide open VanMassenhove down the left side for a 58-yard touchdown.
"I faked like I was going to block, Joe makes a move like he's going to run and I just ran by the defender full speed and got behind him," VanMassenhove said. "I know I'm still going to get my looks, but not as much as last year."
DeMeyer has been preaching patience with VanMassenhove from the beginning of the season.
"I told Mike from the start, he's got to be patient and unselfish," DeMeyer said. "The big plays are going to come his way as soon as the team grasps our scheme and run things the way they're designed. That's going to open big plays for him.
"But he's also got to be a good blocker and he's got to sell the run on play-action passes. Most of his catches are going to be big-play catches, but we're not hitting on all eight cylinders yet."
VanMassenhove sees a bright future with the improvement of Reichert. "Joe's getting more comfortable and the line's blocking a lot better now," VanMassenhove said. "Things are only going to get better on offense."
"Joe's improving every week, especially with his reads and his confidence," DeMeyer said. "The last two weeks we've gotten beaten up on the scoreboard, and a lot of kids confidence could be rattled, but his attitude as gotten better and you can see him maturing."
As for Friday's game, DeMeyer's expecting another tough game from a Cardinal team that is 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Rivers Conference.
"Chippewa Falls is very much like Memorial," DeMeyer said. "They're bigger up front, they have a couple of quick wing backs and a solid full back. They don't do anything fancy, but pound the ball.
"They can also spread it out with a good thrower and an all-conference tight end receiver (Matthew Mitchell)."
That's where VanMassenhove comes in on defense.
"Mike is going to be on him most of the time," DeMeyer said. "That's a tough assignment, but he can match up with anybody. He's an outstanding athlete."
SPARTAN SPIN: VanMassenhove has two interceptions on defense. ... Friday's game is at 7 p.m. and can be heard locally on KUWS 91.3 FM or viewed on the Internet at www.ifan.tv.