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SHS football coaches trying to keep team focused on the game

Superior High School will celebrate the grand opening of the National Bank of Commerce  Sports Complex tonight with a ribbon cutting, tours and fireworks.

But oh yeah, there’s also a football game to be played between the Superior Spartans and Merrill Blue Jays at 7 p.m.

“All indications say we’re going to have a big crowd. People are curious to see what kind of football team we have and are buzzing about the new stadium,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “The whole atmosphere surrounding the game will be very awesome, but we’ve talked about staying focused and we’ve been doing what we could to prepare them for everything surrounding the game.

“Ultimately we have to be focused on the game itself and improve immensely from last week. There were so many things last week that cost us, but we got a lot accomplished in practice as far as that goes, and little mistakes can be fixed.”

The Spartans opened the season with a 37-14 loss at Hopkins.

“Not only were we very amped up to be playing again, we were up against a great team in a great atmosphere,” DeMeyer said. “We made some typical early-season first-game type mistakes. There were some communication breakdowns, fundamental issues at times, just things that we’ve already addressed in practice. We’re very confident that we’ll be a much improved football team this week.”

DeMeyer was impressed with how physical the team played but said one of things they need to do is improve in their pass protection. The Spartans allowed five sacks.

“I loved the heart and effort our kids showed from start to finish,” DeMeyer said. “We were very physical on defense. After the Rice Lake scrimmage there were questions about how physical we were, but after our first game I like where we’re at.

“At times our pass protection was great and at other times there were breakdowns. One misstep here or there and it ends up being a big thing. Again, those are easily fixed; we just need to be focused and disciplined.”

Merrill opened its season with a 31-7 win over Onalaska. The Blue Jays rushed for 345 yards and passed for 70 more.

Mason Reinhart rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns, Wyatt Strombom added 96 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Drew Hoff added 94 yards and a touchdown.

Hoff was also 6-of-10 passing for 70 yards with Jake Anderson catching four passes for 42 yards and Chas Mootz finishing with two catches for 29 yards.

“They’re an option-type team that is physical and fundamentally sound,” DeMeyer said. “Their quarterback is a very good runner who appears to make good reads, their fullback is a good physical runner and they have a big-time wide receiver. They’re very capable of hurting us through the air, too.”

Merrill’s defense held Onalaska to 143 yards rushing and only 49 passing.

“On defense they have very good size up front, good linebackers and are very disciplined,” DeMeyer said. “They’re a very sound, solid football team and again, it’s just being disciplined and reading our keys.”

Like Superior, Merrill advanced to the WIAA Division 2 playoffs last season.

 “They nearly upset Ashwaubenon; they were in a position where they almost did,” DeMeyer said. “They’re big. It’s going to be one heck of a football game.”

Superior last played Merrill during the 2011 season.

The Blue Jays jumped out to a 22-0 first-quarter lead before the Spartans rallied for a 26-25 victory.

“We were down by a couple of scores at half and our kids came back and played hard and we won the second half. It was a great win for our program at the time.”

Colton Lorenz scored on runs of 7 and 43 yards and caught a 68-yard touchdown pass from Spencer Urban, who also rushed for a 3-yard score.

SPARTAN SPIN: SHS wide receiver Jake Libal left last week’s game twice with cramps. He is 100 percent and will be back in action tonight.