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Spartans host Raiders in key BRC contest

Superior High School’s Sam Kline, right, hauls in a 40-yard pass from quarterback Gunner Johnson with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of last week’s game against Eau Claire Memorial. Six plays later Kline kicked a game-winning 22-yard field goal as time expired to give Superior a 22-21 win. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Things don’t get any easier for the Superior High School football team, which hosts the Hudson Raiders at 7 p.m. today the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.

Both teams sport records of 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big Rivers Conference.

Hudson is ranked No. 4 in the state among Divison 1 schools, while Superior is No. 10 in Division 2.

The Spartans are coming off a 22-21 victory over Eau Claire Memorial with the winning points coming on a 22-yard field goal by Sam Kline as time expired.

Superior’s other wins are over Merrill and Holmen.

The Raiders are coming off a 38-0 victory over Eau Claire North. They have also defeated Greenfield, 41-27; and Arrowhead, 33-30. All three games were played on the road.

Arrowhead has played in the last four Division 2 state championship games, winning titles in 2012 and 2013.

The Raiders have used two quarterbacks this season. Keyser Hellerbrand is 4-of-7 passing for 76 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Max Stubbendick is 5-of-9 for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Jagger Marvin leads a well-balanced Hudson rushing attack with 250 yards and three touchdowns. He also has three receptions for 66 yards.

Aaron Squires has rushed for 236 yards and three touchdowns; Stubbendick has 179 yards and three scores; and Andrew Burgess has 98 yards and two scores.

“Hudson will be the toughest test we’ve had thus far,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “They are solid in every phase of their game. Offensively, they are as good as they’ve ever been, running their very explosive option scheme. They have big offensive linemen, two good quarterbacks, good fullbacks and their wings are extremely fast.  They are deceptive and they execute very, very well.”

Hudson’s defense is expected to be led by Isac Schindler and Malcom Kavaloski.

“Defensively, they are very fundamentally sound and they are physical,” DeMeyer said. “Their special teams are equally impressive. They really don’t have any glaring weaknesses, and that’s what we expected.

“They are one of the top programs in the state and this year they are loaded again,” DeMeyer said. “Coach Adam Kowles and his staff always have their team very well prepared.”

Kowles has a record of 74-42 in 12 seasons as Hudson’s head coach.

Kline’s game last week also included eight receptions for 154 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and a key 40-yard catch with 1:37 remaining in the game.

Five plays later Kline booted his game-winning field goal.

For his efforts, Kline was nominated for the WisSports.net Week 3 Player of the Week and was a finalist for the Kohl’s Kicking National Player of the Week.

Both winners were decided by fan voting, and results will be released today.

Senior quarterback Gunner Johnson also had a big game against ECM, completing 14-of-23 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 80 yards on 11 carries.

Gunnar Gronski rushed for 23 of his 39 yards on Superior’s game-winning drive; and Corey Sanders had 41 yards rushing and caught a 66-yard touchdown pass.

On the season Johnson is 21-of-41 passing for 457 yards and three touchdowns.

Kline has nine catches for 161 yards; Zach Tharge has three catches for 114 yards; Max Plunkett has 95 yards on five catches; and Sanders has three catches for 85 yards.

Gronski leads the Spartans on the ground with 296 yards and six touchdowns. He is followed by Johnson (256 yards), Sanders (113) and Zach Tharge (53).

Blake Graskey leads Superior on defense with 31 tackles, including two for losses. Gronski has 22 tackles and Plunkett and Chase Summerfield both have 20. Plunkett also has two interceptions and a forced fumble, while Summerfield has recovered two fumbles.

The Spartans will play for the second straight week without injured defensive players Josiah McDonald and Gabe Sexton.

“The good thing is that they will both be back and that will surely give us a boost when it happens,” DeMeyer said. “In the meantime, we’ve had others step up and fill in very nicely. This will give us more depth down the stretch.

“We have a team of selfless players and we talk every day about staying the course, competing, preparing, fighting for spots, doing whatever it takes to help your team. It makes it much more enjoyable for everyone when you have that kind of culture and that’s what we’re striving for. We certainly have had our setbacks and teachable moments, and ideally we’re learning and growing through those experiences.”

The Spartans have defeated Hudson two years in a row.

After snapping their 19-game BRC winning streak in 2014 with a 35-28 win in Superior, the Spartans handed the Raiders their first home conference loss in nearly five years last season with a 10-7 win.

SPARTAN SPIN: Hudson, a state semifinalist in 2012 and 2013, fell to 2-6 overall and 2-5 in the BRC last season.

Big Rivers Conference

Superior (3-0).................................................... 1-0

Hudson (3-0).................................................. 1-0

Rice Lake (2-1)................................................ 0-1

Eau Claire Memorial (2-1)................................... 0-1

Chippewa Falls (2-1)........................................ 1-0

Menomonie (2-1).............................................. 1-0

River Falls (1-2)............................................... 0-1

Eau Claire North (0-3)....................................... 0-1

Friday, Sept. 2

Chippewa Falls 49, Rice Lake 35

Hudson 38, Eau Claire North 0

Menomonie 50, River Falls 21

Superior 22, Eau Claire Memorial 21

Friday Sept. 9

(All Games 7 p.m.)

Chippewa Falls at Eau Claire Memorial

Eau Claire North at Menomonie

River Falls at Rice Lake

Hudson at Superior

Friday, Sept. 16

Superior at Chippewa Falls

Rice Lake at Eau Claire North

Menomonie at Hudson

Eau Claire Memorial at River Falls

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