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Still plenty at stake for playoff-bound Spartans

The Superior High School football team clinched a berth in the upcoming playoffs last week, but its work is far from over. With hopes of a higher seed, and possibly a home game, the Spartans need a win over the Hudson Raiders, whom they host at 6...

The Superior High School football team clinched a berth in the upcoming playoffs last week, but its work is far from over.

With hopes of a higher seed, and possibly a home game, the Spartans need a win over the Hudson Raiders, whom they host at 6 p.m. today at Ole Haugsrud Field.

"We're still playing for the best seed possible and we're also playing to just get back on track and get some momentum going into the playoffs," SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. "We came out of last week with a win, but it wasn't our best game. We're looking at putting everything together going into the playoffs -- polished up and confident to go."

The Spartans had to block a last-second field goal in order to defeat the winless Eau Claire North Huskies, 18-16.

The win improved the Spartans to 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Rivers Conference. The loss dropped ECN to 0-8 and 0-6.

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"Looking back, we may not have had the best week of preparation," DeMeyer said. "Going into it I don't think we were overlooking them, but it's very possible we did just that.

"Again, like I said last Thursday, I think Eau Claire North is a good football team. They've been in every game this year. We had opportunities to put them away in the second half, but turnovers and a breakdown here or there hurt us."

Hudson enters tonight's game needing a victory to qualify for the playoffs. The Raiders are currently 4-4 and 3-3.

"They seem to be really putting things together for the playoff stretch," DeMeyer said. "They also seem to be a hungry team right now, so we have to make sure we're ready, physically and mentally, to play them."

Hudson's losses were to Chippewa Falls (28-21), Menomonie (45-6) and River Falls (28-20).

Hudson's offensive attack is led by quarterback Chase Graskewicz, fullback Paul Vanden Heuvel and halfbacks Taylor Kolls and Michael Ludgatis.

"Their fullback is physical, a big kid and very athletic," DeMeyer said. "They have a quarterback that runs the option well, a physical runner, and up front both the offensive and defensive lines are aggressive. They're just a sound football team."

Hudson is coming off a pair of shutouts, 29-0 over Eau Claire Memorial and 35-0 over Eau Claire North.

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Against North, two weeks ago, Vanden Heuvel led the Raiders with 122 yards in 22 carries, and Graskewicz completed 3-of-7 passes for 25 yards. Kolls also ran for two touchdowns and tossed a pass for a third. He had 118 yards in just five carries, including TD runs of 67 and 32 yards.

Hudson's defense held ECN to just 57 yards of total offense. The Raiders also had 372 yards of offense, mostly on the ground.

"The players know the situation -- we have to beat Superior to make the playoffs," Hudson coach Adam Kowles said.

As for the playoffs, one Web site ( http://origin-vmedia.rivals.com/uploads/920/551034.pdf ) has the Spartans playing at D.C. Everest Tuesday night with the winner playing the winner of the Chippewa Falls-Appleton East game on Saturday, Oct. 27.

"We just want to control what we can, and that's winning this football game," DeMeyer said. "This game is as important or more important than any of our games thus far. We're trying to regain the momentum we had and feel that much better about ourselves going into the playoffs."

The official playoff pairings are expected to be released Friday afternoon.

SPARTAN SPIN: Superior's Tony Ledin suffered a season-ending knee injury in Monday's JV game. Ledin was a leader on special teams and the backup fullback. ... Vanden Heuvel's brother, Eric, starts on the offensive line for the Wisconsin Badgers. ... A win would give Superior its best record since finishing 9-2 in 1991. A loss would match the Spartans' 6-3 record in 1993.

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