BRC Preview: Conference is as tough as ever
Play begins for real tonight in the Big Rivers Conference.
After two weeks of non-conference action, Superior High School, Rice Lake, Hudson and Eau Claire Memorial are undefeated at 2-0.
River Falls, Menomonie and Chippewa Falls are 1-1 after suffering week one losses, and Eau Claire North is 0-2.
“Menomonie, Rice Lake and Chippewa Falls have all reloaded,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “They have great coaching staffs and programs that can match up with any in the state.
“Both ECN and ECM have new head coaches; however, they are experienced and they returned the majority of their assistants, so we expect them to stay the course.
“Once again, we believe the BRC is one of the top conferences in Wisconsin. Every Friday will be a battle. More often than not it will come down to who makes the fewest mental mistakes and who owns the football.”
The Old Abes opened the season with a pair of wins over teams from La Crosse, 7-6 over Logan and 31-14 over Central.
ECM’s balanced attack is led by quarterback Keegan Calchera, who has completed 16-of-28 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Calchera is also second in rushing with 108 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Jack Brown led the Old Abes with 232 yards rushing and one touchdown on 43 carries, and six different players have caught passes.
In the win over La Crosse Logan, the Old Abes trailed 6-0 until Calchera threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Brown midway through the third quarter.
Against La Crosse Central, Calchera was 8-of-12 passing for 180 yards and a touchdown, and Brown rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown.
“Memorial has another very good football team,” DeMeyer said. “They are very multiple on offense, using a variety of formations and personnel, spreading the ball around. Defensively, they are always extremely well coached and sound with their scheme.
“They made a deep playoff run last year and they look to have a team that can do that again.”
After a 5-4 regular season, ECM defeated Bay Port (29-0) and Appleton North (24-21) in the playoffs before losing to Kimberly (45-33).
After going just 2-6 and missing the playoffs last season, the Raiders opened 2016 with impressive wins over Greenfield (41-27) and Arrowhead (33-30).
Greenfield went 7-2 last season before losing to Union Grove 27-6 in the opening round of the playoffs, while Arrowhead went on to finish second in the state for the second straight year.
Arrowhead has been in 13 state championship games, winning six of them, including 2012 and 2013.
“Hudson is doing exactly what many predicted,” DeMeyer said. “They are a state powerhouse program that hit a little bump in the road last year. They’re certainly back this season with a team that will be in the mix for a BRC title and a playoff run.”
Against Arrowhead, quarterback Max Stubbendick was 4-of-8 passing for 83 yards. Jagger Marvin rushed for 152 yards and a score, and Aaron Squires had 79 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries.
Superior hosts Hudson next Friday.
Chippewa Falls opened the season with a disappointing 15-14 loss to the Holmen Vikings.
The Cardinals appeared on their way to a season-opening win when Matt Pomietlo scored on a 16-yard run early in the fourth quarter to give them a 14-7 lead.
But Seth Wilson’s 1-yard touchdown run, followed by a two-point conversion with a little more than 2 minutes remaining, gave Holmen the win.
Not only did Chippewa Falls lose a heartbreaker, they also lost a number of players to injuries.
“In all of the years of coaching I’ve never had that many injuries in a game, and they were key players, and that affected every aspect of the game — offense, defense and special teams,” Chippewa Falls coach Chuck Raykovich said to the Chippewa Herald.
Chippewa Falls rebounded nicely with a 47-21 win over Medford.
The Cardinals rushed for 429 yards and seven touchdowns, led by Matt Pomietlo’s 165 yards with Matthew Bruder adding 106 yards and four touchdowns and Codie Meinen chipping in with 95 yards and a score.
“Chippewa had a bad week one game where they lost several players to injuries which would be devastating to most teams in terms of depth,” DeMeyer said. “Fortunately for them, they are deep enough to overcome and still compete, as they did in week two. I wouldn’t ever count them out.”
Superior plays at Chippewa Falls on Sept. 16.
Rice Lake’s high-powered offensive scored 92 points in its wins over Medford (40-26) and New Richmond (52-40).
In the win over Medford, Alec Larson ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown as the Warriors opened up a 21-6 halftime lead.
Dylan Roberts’ 58-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter put the game away for the Warriors with a 40-14 lead before the Raiders scored two late TDs against Warrior back-ups.
Against New Richmond, Steve Scheurer was 4-of-6 passing for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
Adding to the offensive tally was Brandon Sutton with 111 yards and a touchdown.
Speedster Kenny Bednarek has caught three passes from Scheurer for 154 yards, including touchdowns of 71 and 41 yards.
The Spartans host the Warriors on Oct. 7.
The Mustangs rebounded from a season-opening 45-40 loss to Greendale with a 42-22 win over Somerset.
Senior quarterback Jace LaBuda is 23-of-41 passing for 494 yards and three touchdowns, including 12-of-28 passing for 298 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
Sam Danovsky has seven receptions for 152 yards and two TDs. Jake Goodman had eight catches for 155 yards, and Rhett Sheehan has caught five passes for 119 yards.
The Mustangs have rushed for 400 yards this season, led by Mitch Weber’s 170 yards and four TDs. Justin Evans rushed for 111 in the opener.
Superior and Menomonie play Sept. 23 at UW-Stout.
The Wildcats (1-1) opened with a 42-14 loss to New Richmond, then defeated Merrill 21-14.
Logan Graetz and Joey Davis share time behind center. Graetz is 31-of-45 passing for 314 yards and three TDs, while Davis is 10-of-16 for 140 yards and one TD.
Mason Graetz has been their main target, hauling in 18 catches for 193 yards and one TD. Matthew Wachtler has also caught 11 passes for 144 yards and two scores.
“River Falls is also very well coached and has the athletes to compete and win on any given Friday night,” DeMeyer said.
River Falls is Superior’s homecoming opponent on Sept. 30.
The Huskies are 0-2 under first-year coach Dave Decker, losing to La Crosse Central 19-12 and La Crosse Logan 32-7.
Jake Bickle is North’s quarterback, connecting on 20-of-40 passes for 294 yards, one TD and one interception.
The Huskies have struggled on offense, with 185 yards rushing and 294 passing.
Tyler Zainhofsky (62 yards), Nicke Hestekin (50) and Tyler Greenlund (45) are the top rushers.
Superior wraps up the regular season at ECN on Oct. 14.
Big Rivers Conference
1991—Eau Claire North
1992—Chippewa Falls and Menomonie
1995—Eau Claire Memorial, Menomonie, River Falls
1998— Eau Claire Memorial, Menomonie
2000—Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, Rice Lake
2011—Eau Claire Memorial, Menomonie
2015—Chippewa Falls, Rice Lake