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Spartans host Old Abes in BRC opener

Superior High School’s Sam Kline (87) kicks an extra point during the Spartans’ win over Holmen Friday night in Rice Lake. Holding for Kline is quarterback Gunner Johnson (10). (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelgram.com)

The Superior High School football team begins play in the Big Rivers Conference by hosting the Eau Claire Memorial Old Abes at 7 p.m. today at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.

Both teams enter tonight’s fray with 2-0 records. The Spartans own wins over Merrill, 38-14, and Holmen, 35-30, while the Old Abes defeated La Crosse Logan 7-6 and La Crosse Central 31-14.

In Superior’s win over Holmen, the Spartans opened up a 35-12 lead, but the Vikings made things interesting with 18 fourth-quarter points.

Two of the touchdowns came after Holmen recovered onside kicks.

“When we scored to go up 35-12 we were starting to talk about getting backups ready to go in — that changed in a hurry,” DeMeyer said. “Their onside kick is very unique in the manner they place the ball on the tee, how he kicks it and the way it spins as a result.

“As much as we prepare our ‘hands’ team, we hadn’t seen a kick like that before. Unfortunately we got three, really four looks at it with the procedure penalty they had on one.”

The Spartans haven’t had any problem moving the ball so far this season, averaging more than 400 yards in their two games, including 397 yards in Friday’s win over Holmen.

Quarterback Gunner Johnson has completed 7-of-18 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown.

Gunnar Gronski leads the Spartans on the ground with 235 yards and five touchdowns on 25 carries. Johnson also has 188 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Corey Sanders had 136 yards and one score.

Zach Tharge is the top pass catcher with three receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.

On special teams, Sam Kline is 10-for-10 on extra-point attempts and is 1-for-1 on field goals.

Defensively for Superior, Blake Graskey has 22 tackles, followed by Max Plunkett, 17; and Gronski and Josiah McDonald, 16 each.

Holmen also had a big game offensively with 514 yards rushing, including 275 and three touchdowns by Seth Wilson.

“Wilson is as good as anyone we’ve faced at running back in the last 10 years,” DeMeyer said. “He’s the total package; very explosive, physical and elusive. He also had a very good supporting cast.

“We all learned some valuable lessons in the Holmen game. I credit Holmen for not quitting, and I also commend our players for not getting rattled and doing what we had to do to finish and come away with a win. It was sort of like a heavyweight boxing match. We had them on the ropes and they kept coming back slugging their way out.”

The Old Abes defeated Superior 27-14 last season, and Superior won 52-36 in 2014.

“I’m very proud of our players for continuing to bring a workmanlike attitude each day and for the improved physicality,” DeMeyer said. “We also had a huge improvement with our energy level from our kids on the field and our young kids on the sideline. 

“All of us need to remember that this is a game and it should be fun. Sometimes we lose sight of that and get caught up in the daily grind and pressure to win. Our philosophy is to keep a balance of fun and work with great attitudes, effort and focus to accomplish our goals.”

Preceding tonight’s game will be the annual SHS DECA Tailgate Party. The event runs from 5 to 6 p.m. with all proceeds being presented to “Hunger Takes no Holiday,” and the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Big Rivers Conference

Superior (2-0).................................................... 0-0

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

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

Hudson (2-0).................................................. 0-0

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

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

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

Eau Claire North (0-2)....................................... 0-0

Friday, Sept. 2

All Games 7 p.m.

Rice Lake at Chippewa Falls

Hudson at Eau Claire North

Menomonie at River Falls

Eau Claire Memorial at Superior

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