The two got to know each other when Kennelly, along with other freshmen members of the North Dakota State football team, gave Wilson a tour of the Fargo, N.D., campus during a recent recruiting visit.
While Wilson is considering a scholarship offer from the Bison, or preferred walk-on offer from the Wisconsin Badgers, he certainly didn’t need help from Kennelly, or anybody else, in finding his way around the field Friday night.
Wilson was a one-man wrecking crew for the Vikings, rushing for 211 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries. He also caught a pass for 23 yards, returned a kick-off 90 yards for another score and intercepted a pass to help seal the Vikings’ 58-37 victory over the Spartans.
“We knew he was a special player, but they have a lot of good players,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “You could tell he told his team ‘jump on my back and I’m going to carry you.’ He did just that.”
Wilson and the Vikings were unstoppable; scoring the first eight times they had the ball.
The first time Superior’s defense forced Holmen to punt came early in the fourth quarter, but by that time the Vikings had built a 51-29 lead.
The Spartans got within 51-37 on Gunner Johnson’s 1-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion with 2:49 remaining, and then recovered an on-side kick at midfield.
But on the very next play, Holmen’s Drake Walensky returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown with 2:35 remaining.
No. 7 Holmen (7-3) will now play at Pulaski at 7 p.m. Friday. No. 6 Pulaski advanced with a 35-28 upset victory over No. 3 Hortonville.
Superior, the No. 2 seed, ends its season with a 6-4 record.
“We got outplayed, outcoached and unfortunately it was one of those nights where we didn’t have an answer,” DeMeyer said. “Give our kids credit, there was not one time when we quit, and we went down swinging.
“We have a lot of pride and are proud of our season. There weren’t a lot of people that thought we were going to make it this far, and there was a lot of talk that it was going to be a down year, or a rebuilding year. But we didn’t accept that, came out and fought for a conference championship and to get into the playoffs. Those are our goals every year.”
Superior won the coin flip, elected to take the ball and opened the game with an eight-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Gunnar Gronski running up the middle untouched from 24 yards out. Sam Kline’s PAT made the score 7-0 just 3:15 into the game.
Superior’s lead lasted 12 seconds as Wilson scored from 65 yards out on Holmen’s first play from scrimmage. Wilson’s score, which included fighting off a tackle at the 15-yard line, was followed by Jonah Johnson’s PAT.
“We got the fast start we wanted with probably our best drive of the year,” DeMeyer said. “Execution, energy, intensity and physicality on the drive — everything was there.
“But then they got the big play on the first play from scrimmage and that hurt.”
After stopping Superior on a fourth-down play at the 23, Holmen took a 14-7 lead on Wilson’s 2-yard TD with 51 seconds left in the first quarter.
Superior responded with Zach Tharge’s 7-yard touchdown around the left end. Kline’s PAT tied the game 14-14 with 7:54 left in the third quarter.
Holmen took the lead for good when Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards. Holmen failed on the extra point giving the Vikings a 20-14 lead.
“We didn’t expect them to kick to me at all, so when I got the ball I was a little shocked,” Wilson said. “Our kick return has blocked great all year; we spend hours working on the return; so I have to give a shout out to the coaches and guys blocking.”
Superior’s failure to pick up a first down on its next two drives led to two straight Holmen touchdowns and a 34-14 lead.
Drew Becker scored from 37 yard out at 5:28, and Wilson dove over the top from 1 yard out with 1:30 left in the half.
“Those two drives were definitely a turning point,” DeMeyer said. “We may have hit the panic button a little bit. Instead of running the ball, we thought we saw some things we could take advantage of and hit the home run. It’s worked for us in the past, but it didn’t work tonight.”
The Spartans got one of those TDs back when Kline beat two defenders in the end zone and hauled in a 21-yard TD pass from G. Johnson with 30 seconds on the clock.
Holmen wasn’t done yet either as J. Johnson’s 26-yard field goal as time expired in the half made the score 37-21.
The Vikings scored the first two times they had the ball in the third quarter — Wilson from 35 yards out and Isaac Handland’s 3-yard run.
The Spartans had 432 yards on offense. G. Johnson was 15-of-30 for 263 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Plunkett ended up with seven catches for 87 yards and Gronski led the way on the ground with 65 yards on 14 carries.
Blake Graskey led Superior on defense with a game-high nine tackles. Josiah McDonald had six tackles to go along with a fumble recovery, which was forced by Luke Drougas.
Holmen, which finished with 472 yards, also got 131 yards from Becker on 10 carries.
“At the start of year coach gave us all the confidence in the world,” G. Johnson said. “We worked hard and did everything we could to get into the position. It hurts right now, but we’ll look back and think that we did a really good job.
“As players we want to thank the coaches for a great season.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Elijah Johnson led Holmen with seven tackles. He also had a sack, along with Brett Mahlum. Andrew Fisher had Holmen’s third interception. … The Spartans defeated Holmen 35-30 in Week 2 in Rice Lake. In that game, Wilson, the son of former Oklahoma star and Cincinnati Bengals running back Stanley Wilson, rushed for 275 yards and three TDs. … Wilson now has 1,813 yards rushing and 29 TDs.
Holmen............... 14 23 14 7 — 58
Superior............... 7 14 8 8 — 37
S–Gunnar Gronski 24-yard run (Sam Kline kick), 8:45.
H–Seth Wilson 65-yard run (Jonah Johnson kick), 8:33.
H–Wilson 2-yard run (Johnson kick), 0:51.
S–Zach Tharge 7-yard run (Kline kick), 7:54.
H–Wilson 90-yard kick-off return (pass failed), 7:39.
H–Drew Becker 37-yard run (Johnson kick), 5:28.
H–Wilson 1-yard run (Johnson kick), 1:30.
S–Sam Kline 21-yard pass from Gunner Johnson (Kline kick), 0:30.
H–Johnson 26-yard field goal, 0:00.
H–Wilson 34-yard run (Johnson kick), 7:37.
H–Isaac Handland 3-yard run (Johnson kick), 2:47.
S–Max Plunkett 33-yard pass from Johnson (Tharge run), 0:31.
S—Johnson 1-yard run (Johnson run), 2:49.
H—Drake Walensky 55-yard interception return (Johnson kick), 2:35.
Total Yards..................... 472 432
Passing Yards................. 27 263
Rushing........................ 48-445 35-169
First Downs..................... 17 15
Third Down..................... 3-6 5-12
Fourth-Down................... 1-1 2-2
Penalties........................ 5-43 8-64
Fum./Lost....................... 1-1 0-0
Time............................ 21:23 26:21
RUSHING—H, Seth Wilson, 14-211; Drew Becker, 10-131; Seth Holden, 12-57; Isaac Handland, 12-46. SHS, Gunnar Gronski, 14-65; Corey Sanders, 3-46; Zach Tharge, 6-39; Gunner Johnson, 12-19.
PASSING—H, Handland 2-3-0-27. SHS, G. Johnson, 15-30-3-263.
RECEIVING—H, Wilson, 1-23; Becker, 1-4. SHS, Max Plunkett, 7-87; Sam Kline, 4-71; Sanders, 3-85; Tharge, 1-20.
Superior—Blake Graskey, 9; Plunkett, 6; Chase Summerfield, 6; Josiah McDonald, 6; Luke Drougas, 5; Tradel Nickelson, 4; Jack Sannes, 4; Tharge, 4; Gronski, 4; Sanders, 2; Chase Elder, 1.
Holmen—Elijah Johnson, 7; Drake Walensky, 6; Craig Newsome Jr., 5; Holden, 4.