Spartans clinch playoff berth
The Superior High School football team clinched a WIAA playoff berth with a 54-9 win over the Eau Claire North Huskies Friday night at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.
With the win the Spartans improve to 6-2 overall and 5-2 in the Big Rivers Conference. The loss drops ECN to 2-6, 0-6.
Rice Lake (8-0, 6-0) took over sole possession of first place in the BRC with a 27-21 win over Eau Claire Memorial (4-4, 3-3). Chippewa Falls (7-1, 5-1) fell to second place with a 26-19 overtime loss to Menomonie (6-2, 4-2). Chippewa Falls plays at Rice Lake Friday night.
The Spartans wrap up their regular season against Eau Claire Memorial at 7 p.m. Friday at Carson Park in Eau Claire.
Despite not having a chance to win a second straight BRC title, the Spartans are still in the running for a home playoff game, and a win Friday will help their chances.
“Memorial is a great team,” SHS senior Ross Kennelly said. “They’ve competed very well against some of the best teams in our conference, and we’re going to treat it like another playoff game. We’re shooting to get a home playoff game in front of our great fans, and we have to win Friday to have a chance.”
The Spartans led 28-0 after the first quarter Friday night with three of their four touchdowns coming after turnovers.
Superior kicker Sam Kline recovered a fumble on the game’s opening kickoff, and seven plays and 54 yards later Kennelly ran untouched over the right side from 1 yard out. Kline’s extra point gave the Spartans a 7-0 lead 4:02 into the game.
“Sam just kicked a line drive, it went off their guy and we got on it,” DeMeyer said. “It wasn’t a planned thing at all.”
Blake Graskey then recovered a fumble on ECN’s first play from scrimmage and five plays and 1:31 later Kennelly broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage on his way to an 18-yard touchdown. Kline’s kick made it 14-0.
Beau Girard’s interception, and 54-yard return, set up his own 20-yard touchdown run at 3:29.
After Superior’s defense forced a punt, Girard’s 6-yard touchdown gave Superior a 28-0 lead with 11.5 seconds left in the opening quarter.
“We were able to get off to a fast start, something we really wanted to do,” Kennelly said. “Everything was clicking, everyone was playing well, it was a tremendous team effort and an exciting way to end senior night.”
The second quarter began where the first quarter left off as Max Plunkett’s interception was soon followed by Kennelly’s 7-yard touchdown run. Kline booted his fifth extra-point of the game giving Superior a 35-0 lead with 7:46 left in the first half.
North followed with its best drive of the game, and three completed passes helped move the ball to Superior’s 7-yard line.
But after a gain of 1 and an incomplete pass, Harrison Doane sacked ECN quarterback Lukas Lanners for a 9-yard loss. The Huskies remained scoreless when a 32-yard field-goal attempt went wide left.
It went to 42-0 with 18.1 seconds left in the half when ECN snapped the ball over the punter’s head and Gunnar Gronski recovered the ball in the end zone.
“Our main focus all week was paying attention to the little things, maintain our focus, limit our mistakes and execute,” DeMeyer said. “The kids came out and did that tonight — I’m very proud of them.”
With the game in running time and Superior playing with mostly reserves, ECN avoided being shutout when Cal Sauro tackled SHS quarterback Luke Drougas in the end zone for a safety.
Superior had to kick the ball away to ECN and the Huskies eventually got within 42-9 on Lukas Lanner’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Superior sophomore Omar King scored the game’s two final touchdowns.
King, who was making his varsity debut, scored on a 70-yard screen pass from Drougas as time expired in the third quarter, then ran for a 51-yard touchdown with 3:44 remaining.
“It feels great to help out in the win,” King said. “This will only make me work harder. I can’t wait until next season.”
King went to Duluth Denfeld last year and is originally from Texas.
“Omar’s a special kid,” DeMeyer said. “He’s new to our program and he’s still learning, but we know we have a special athlete and he’s becoming a pretty awesome football player. He fits in well, a team player, high character player and a great young man.
“The young kids executed well on the screen play and it was a nice finish by Omar. That was a very impressive play.”
Kennelly finished with 104 yards rushing and three touchdowns on seven carries. He also caught a 10-yard pass and led the Spartans with eight tackles.
Girard finished with 60 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and King had 121 yards of total offense, including 52 rushing and 69 receiving.
Superior forced five turnovers —Gronski and Brandon Foerst recovered fumbles and Girard, Plunkett and Brett Austin intercepted passes.
SHS running back Mitch Anderson had three first-half touchdowns called back because of penalties.
“We won the game, that’s the most important thing,” Anderson said.
DeMeyer had nothing but praise for the senior.
“He does a lot of things for this team that sometimes go unnoticed, as do a lot of our kids,” DeMeyer said. “We have a very unselfish team and that was very evident tonight.”
Eau Claire North................ 0 0 9 0 — 9
Superior......................... 28 14 6 6 — 54
SHS — Ross Kennelly 1-yard run (Sam Kline kick), 7:58.
SHS — Kennelly 18-yard run (Kline kick), 6:27.
SHS — Beau Girard 20-yard run (Kline kick), 3:29.
SHS — Girard 6-yard run (Kline kick), 0:11.5.
SHS — Kennelly 6-yard run (Kline kick), 7:46.
SHS — Gunnar Gronski fumble recovery in end zone (Kline kick), 0:18.1.
ECN — Cal Sauro safety, tackled QB in end zone, 10:41.
ECN — Lukas Lanners 1–yard run (Tanner Moua kick), 4:41.
SHS — Omar King 69-yard pass from Gunner Johnson (kick failed), 0:00.
SHS — King 51-yard run (kick failed), 3:44.
Total Net Yards..................... 162 396
Comp-Att-Int...................... 6-17-3 4-10-0
Passing yards....................... 113 119
Rushing.............................. 32-49 35-277
First Downs............................ 8 9
Kickoff Returns.................... 2-116 1-1
Sacks................................... 0 1
Fumbles-Lost........................ 2-2 2-1
Penalties-Yards..................... 3-30 6-28
Time of Possession:.............. 23:56 20:54
RUSHING—ECN, Brock Schwieters 17-32; Carson Lemanski 6-23; Tevin Kolve 3-12; Michael Haller 1-7; Lukas Lanners 1-1; Tanner Moua 2-(-26). Superior, Ross Kennelly 7-104; Beau Girard 6-60; Omar King, 2-52; Gunner Johnson 6-34; Mitch Anderson 4-28; Tradel Nickerson 2-4; Spencer Udeen 1-1; Gunnar Gronski 1-1; Joe Carter 1-0; Seth Sutherland 2-0; Brett Austin 1-(-3); Luke Drougas 2-(-4).
PASSING—ECN, Lanners 5-9-0-105; Nick Thompson 1-4-1-8; Braeden Neyens 0-4-2-0. Superior, Johnson 3-8-0-50; Drougas 1-2-0-69.
RECEIVING — ECN, Jeffrey Pippenger 1-41; Ben Hanson 1-31; Neyens 1-13; Steve Luther 1-12; Jaelin Williams 1-8; Brock Schwieters 1-8. Superior, King 1-69; Sam Kline 1-24; Brett Lozon 1-16; Kennelly 1-10.
ECN (37) — Sebastian Schick, 9; Tyler Pilzner, 4.
Superior — Kennelly, 8; C.J. Fortune Jr., 4; Brandon Forest, 4; Devin Samarzia, 3; Jon Cronin, 3; Josiah McDonald, 3; Harrison Doane, 3; Cameron Borgh, 3; Mitch Anderson, 2; Max Plunkett, 2; Travis Sharpe, 2; Corey Sanders, 2; Dom D’Auria, 2; Tradel Nickerson, 1; Matt Buerger, 1; Drougas, 1; Garrett Hobson, 1; Trent Sikorski, 1; Zach Tharge, 1; Jordan Hicks, 1; Hunter Summers, 1; Gunnar Gronski, 1; Brandan McClure, 1; Blake Graskey, 1; Anthony Gallian, 1; Nick Long, 1; Nick Ferrando, 1.