Superior gets defensive win in over Chippewa Falls

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The defensive unit of the Superior High School football team shined as bright as the full moon over Dorias Field Friday night in Chippewa Falls.

The Spartans held a powerful Cardinal offensive unit to just 204 yards and scored a defensive touchdown in a 17-7 victory that improved Superior’s record to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Rivers  Conference.

The Cardinals (3-2, 2-1) were coming off a 42-14 win over Eau Claire Memorial that saw them gain 308 yards in offense, all rushing.

Against Superior’s dominating defense, Chippewa Falls rushed for just 158 yards. The Cardinals’ 12 offensive possessions included three plays and a punt five times, getting stopped on fourth down three times and losing two fumbles.

One of the fumbles was scooped up by Spartan defensive back Max Plunkett and returned 54 yards for a touchdown, giving Superior a 14-0 lead three plays into the third quarter.

“Our kids played great defense against an offense that has been rolling all season and one that is always extremely difficult to stop,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “The double wing they run is unique and a huge challenge to simulate in practice. The scout team was amazing each practice giving our defense the best possible look at the plays they run.

“Our defensive coaches had a remarkable scheme, reemphasized solid fundamentals all week, and our players rose to the occasion.  The success we had was a direct result of a great week of focus and preparation.

Corey Sanders led Superior with 11 tackles. Zach Tharge added nine tackles and forced a fumble; Plunkett had eight tackles along with his fumble recovery; and Blake Graskey had eight tackles and forced a fumble, along with Luke Drougas.

The Spartans, who were coming off a 35-14 loss to Hudson, were also up against a pretty good defense that held them to 185 yards, including 100 rushing.

Fifty-five of those rushing yards came on Superior’s second drive of the game that ended with Tharge running untouched around the left end on a fourth-down play from the 1-yard line. Sam Kline’s extra-point kick came with 2:23 left in the first quarter.

Superior’s first goal-line stand stopped Chippewa Falls on the 4 on the first drive of the second quarter. The second stop came at the 30 with 12.5 seconds left in the first half.

Superior also had three of its drives limited to just three plays in the first half, and another drive ended when a Spartan caught a pass for a first down but had the ball ripped out of his arms as he battled for extra yards.

Just minutes after Plunkett’s touchdown gave Superior the 14-0 lead 1:45 into the second quarter, Drougas’ fumble recovery came at the Spartans’ 5-yard line.

“There were so many plays all night that our kids made — certainly one that stands out is the fumble recovery for a touchdown,” DeMeyer said. “Securing the tackle, stripping the ball, and Max, one of our fastest players, scooping and scoring was a game-changing play.”

Four plays into Superior’s next drive, Jordan Steinmenz intercepted a pass and returned it 31 yards to the 9.

That set up Matt Brudedr’s 2-yard touchdown run, which made the score 14-7 with 3:23 left in the third quarter.

With 7:58 remaining, Kline missed wide right on a 27-yard field goal attempt.

Kline made up for the miss when his punt pinned the Cardinals at their own 1-yard line with 2:37 remaining. He then eventually sealed the victory with a 26-yard field goal with 44.8 seconds left.

Spartan quarterback Gunner Johnson was 4-of-6 passing for 85 yards and an interception. The senior also rushed for 28 yards on 11 carries.

Gunnar Gronski led Superior on the ground with 37 yards on 14 carries. Tharge added 21 yards on five carries and he caught a pass for 47 yards. Kline also caught two passes for 20 yards and Tre Knight caught an 18-yard pass.

The Spartans find themselves in a four-way-tie for second place in the BRC with Hudson, Chippewa Falls and Rice Lake. All four teams are 2-1 in league play, trailing Menomonie, which is 3-0.

Superior plays at Menomonie at 7 p.m. Friday. Both teams are 4-1 overall.

The Mustangs are coming off a 34-14 win over Hudson.

“We are very proud of how the kids rebounded from a tough loss, accepted the coaches challenging them and got back on track,” DeMeyer said. “I’m very proud of our younger players and others who may not have even stepped on the field. The energy they had was a huge boost, and every player on our team played a role in winning the game.”

Bruder led the Cardinals on the ground with 58 yards on 14 carries, with Codie Meinen adding 42 on 18. Max Gibson caught four passes for 35 yards and Evan Spaeth added three catches for 30 yards.

SPARTAN SPIN: Bryce Okland recovered a fumble and Rico Deleon had a sack for Chippewa Falls. Simon Martineau led the Cardinals with eight tackles. … Chippewa Falls now leads the all-time series with Superior 17-15.


Superior......................... 7     0      7     3   —    17

Chippewa Falls................. 0     0      7     0   —     7

First Quarter

SHS—Zach Tharge 1-yard run (Sam Kline kick), 2:23.

Third Quarter

SHS—Max Plunkett 54-yard fumble return (Kline kick), 10:15.

CF—Matt Bruder 2-yard run (kick good), 3:23.

Fourth Quarter

SHS—Kline 26-yard field goal, 0:44.8.

TEAM STATISTICS

                                    SHS              CF

Plays............................. 46               53

First downs...................... 7                11

Total yards..................... 185              204

Passing yards.................. 85               54

Rushing yards............... 40-100          44-150

Third down.................... 4-14             3-13

Fourth down................... 1-2              2-2

Penalties........................ 8-56             2-13

Fumbles/lost................... 1-1              2-2

Time............................ 25:45           22:15

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—SHS, Gunnar Gronski, 14-37; Gunner Johnson, 11-26; Zach Tharge, 5-21; Corey Sanders, 4-14; CJ Fortune, 1-3; Tre Knight, 5-(-5). CF, Matt Bruder, 14-58; Codie Meinen, 15-42; Matt Pomietlo, 7-19; Nolan Hutzler, 4-16; Eric Swenson, 1-9; Jordan Steinmetz, 1-2; Jared Woodhaul, 1-(-1).

PASSING—SHS, Johnson, 4-6-1-85. CF, Nolan Hutzler, 9-17-0-59.

RECEIVING—SHS, Sam Kline, 2-20; Tharge, 1-47; Knight, 1-18. CF, Max Gibson, 4-35; Evan Spaeth, 3-30; Bruder, 1-3; Eric Swenson, 1-(-4).

 

DEFENSE

Superior

                                       Total       Solo      Ast

Corey Sanders.................... 11           7         4

Zach Tharge........................ 9           9         x

Chase Elder........................ 9           7         2

Blake Graskey..................... 8           8         x

Joe Carter........................... 7           4         3

Max Plunkett....................... 6           5         1

Gunnar Gronski.................... 6           5         1

Chase Summerfield............... 5           3         2

Luke Drougas....................... 4           2         2

Nick Ferrando...................... 1           1         x

Christian Pettit..................... 1           1         x

Josiah McDonald.................. 1           1         x

Total................................. 68          53       15

Chippewa Falls

Simon Martineau, 8; Cale Hennusch, 6; Joe Blum, 4; Jared Woodhaul, 4; Caleb Lau, 4.