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Fans in for a treat on Saturday

The Superior High School football team will celebrate Halloween by handing out candy to trick-or-treaters tonight at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex. Area football fans will then be in for another treat at 2 p.m. Saturday when the Spartans host th...

Spartan defense
The Superior High School defensive front poses for a photo before practice on Wednesday afternoon. Spartan linebackers are, back row, from left, Austin Arnovich, Anthony Bronson, Garrett Hobson, Ross Kennelly, Jesse Polson and Beau Reder. The defensive line is, from left, Kyler Krob, Joey Miller and Connor Gray. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

The Superior High School football team will celebrate Halloween by handing out candy to trick-or-treaters tonight at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.

Area football fans will then be in for another treat at 2 p.m. Saturday when the Spartans host the Ashwaubenon Jaguars in a WIAA Division 2, Level 2 playoff game featuring two of the top quarterbacks in the state - Superior’s Nick Mehlum and Ashwaubenon’s James Morgan. Both are among five finalists for the Dave Krieg Award, which honors the top quarterback in the state.

Mehlum (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) has completed 151-of-239 passes (63.2 percent) for 2,712 yards, 32 touchdowns and four interceptions with a passer rating of 134.6. He leads the state in touchdown passes, is third in yards per game (271.2) and yards passing and sixth in QB rating.

Morgan (6-4, 215), who committed to Bowling Green, is 217-of-370 for 2,993 yards with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He is first in the state in yards passing and yards per game and second in TDs.

“Statistically, and from what we’ve seen on film, James Morgan will be the best quarterback we’ve faced this season,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “He has a very strong arm and he can hurt us with his feet too - he’s a Division I recruit for a reason.

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“It’ll be a fun challenge for our defense again and we’re looking forward to it, but we also know that the quarterback wearing No. 9 in a Spartan uniform is pretty darn good too. They’ve squared off before in 7-on-7 tournaments and had some fun battles. This will be another one for sure.”

Ashwaubenon (9-1) tied for second place with DePere in the Fox River Classic standings with 7-1 records. The Jaguars then defeated DePere 35-28 in overtime in the opening round of the playoffs last Friday.

Ashwaubenon trailed 14-0 in the second quarter, then scored three straight touchdowns to take a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars eventually won the game in overtime on Morgan’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Sam Wisneski.

Morgan finished the game 13-of-29 for 273 yards, five touchdown passes and three interceptions.

“Ashwaubenon is a fantastic football team again this season - every team still standing at this point is,” DeMeyer said. “We’ll have to play with a higher level of focus and execute at our best to beat them. So far, our football team has risen to that challenge every week and we’re very confident they will again.”

The Spartans are coming off their best defensive game of the season with a 21-0 victory over the Holmen Vikings.

Superior’s defense held Holmen’s high-power running game to just 68 yards rushing and 193 yards overall.

“Our defense took a huge step last week and will need to do the same Saturday,” DeMeyer said. “The offense we’ll face is the extreme opposite from what we saw last week. However, it is a little easier to simulate in practice as we both run somewhat similar schemes.”

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Superior’s defensive unit is led by linemen Kyler Krob, Joey Miller and Conner Gray and linebackers Austin Arnovich, Anthony Bronson, Garrett Hobson, Ross Kennelly, Jesse Polson and Beau Reder.

“Our linemen are tough, hard-nosed athletic kids. They take the aggressive style coach (Rich) Reder has and they get better every week. They’re as coachable and unselfish as any players we have,” DeMeyer said. “Our linebackers are exactly the type of kids we need for our scheme. They’re fast, physical, they process things well and they are leaders. We’re very proud of how they’ve progressed each game too.

“Coach (Rob) Scott is our inside linebacker coach and defensive coordinator.  He’s been able to tweak things each week, make adjustments to stop certain things because they have such a grasp on our scheme.”

Ashwaubenon will test Superior’s defensive front with a running game led by Josiah Santana, who has 412 yards on 74 carries. Morgan is next with 235 yards, and Brett Brenwall is right behind at 229. All three have four touchdowns.

The Jaguars also have three receivers with more than 50 receptions, led by Wisneski with 56 catches for 929 yards and nine touchdowns. Kyle Monroe has 55 catches for 856 yards and nine touchdowns and Jaret Curtis had 50 catches for 461 yards and six scores.

Kennelly leads the Spartans with 112 tackles, six sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Polson has 100 tackles; Hobson has 53; Beau Girard 43; and Hobson 42.

One of Mehlum’s main targets on offensive is senior Jake Libal, who is one of five finalists for the Al Toon Award, which is awarded to the top receiver in the state.

Libal has 53 catches for 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s seventh in the state in yards, 10th in touchdowns and 17th in receptions.

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Girard also has 34 catches for 639 yards and nine touchdowns and Grant Hanson has 28 catches for 370 yards and three touchdowns.

Kennelly is also an offensive threat with a team-high 15 touchdowns. He has rushed for 707 yards and 10 touchdowns and has 11 catches for 328 yards and five scores.

Mehlum is second in rushing with 251 yards and Mitch Anderson has 243 yards. Both have two touchdowns.

“The keys to winning are the same as they’ve been all season - take care of the football when we have it and take it from them as much as we can,” DeMeyer said. “We also have to play with energy and focus.”

Saturday’s winner will play either Hortonville (7-3) or Menasha (10-0), who play tonight in Menasha.

Playoff history

Ashwaubenon is 43-16 in 20 playoff appearances, all in Division 2.

The Jaguars won state championships in 1996, 2000, 2001, 2005 and finished second in 1993 and 1998.

Superior is competing in the playoffs for the 12th time and is 12-10 overall with a Division 1 state title in 1990 and a state runner-up finish in 1988.

Prior to last week’s 21-0 win over Hortonville, Superior’s last playoff victories came in 1991 when it defeated Eau Claire North 34-14 and La Crosse Central 8-7 before losing to Appleton West 40-16.

SPARTAN SPIN: Superior’s McKenzie Schwarz is a semifinalist for the Kevin Stemke Award, given to the state’s top punter or kicker. … Saturday’s game will be carried live on the web by ifan.tv and on the radio by WNXR 107.3 FM. … Trick-or-treating tonight at SHS will take place from 6:30-7 p.m. … SHS has presold about 1,000 tickets for Saturday’s game. Ticket presale will continue until from 7:30 to 3:30 p.m. today in the SHS activities office. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the game.

Ashwaubenon

Green Bay Preble..................... W        31-17

Manitowoc............................ W        24-7

Green Bay SW........................ W        36-7

Green Bay West....................... W        46-0

Green Bay East....................... W        47-34

Pulaski................................ W        27-10

Bay Port............................... L        21-13

Sheboygan South..................... W        43-33

Notre Dame........................... W        35-21

Playoffs

DePere................................ W        35-28

Superior

Hopkins (forfeit)....................... W        2-0

Merrill................................. W        31-7

Hudson................................ W        35-28

Chippewa Falls....................... W        37-14

Menomonie........................... W        35-34

River Falls............................ W        49-14

Eau Claire North....................... W        56-28

Eau Claire Memorial.................. W        52-36

Playoffs

Holmen................................ W        21-0

Joey Miller
Superior High School defensive lineman Joey Miller’s helmet looks like it’s been drug from the bumper of a car as he stands on the sideline of a recent game at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

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