The 2019 football season didn’t turn out as expected for Superior High School and senior Jarrett Gronski — it turned out even better.
The Spartans’ success included advancing to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, winning three playoff games for the third time in school history, and their 10-3 record was among the best all-time at SHS.
Gronski played a key role in that success, rushing for 1,146 yards and 19 touchdowns, and completing 42-of-88 passes for 753 yards and four TDs. He also ran in for 10 two-pointers.
That success has led to Gronski being named the 2019 Superior Telegram All-Area Football Player of the Year.
“Jarrett is such a vital member of our football program, for our school and community,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “He is a pacesetter and he gets people to believe in him and follow his lead.
“He's also a great student and a tremendous young man who knows how to work for everything he wants, and he has a whole lot of fun in the process. He's open to learning and he's grown so much in his time through the SYFL (Superior Youth Football League) and his career at SHS.”
Gronski deflected the credit to his teammates and coaches.
“I know that a lot of my teammates and coaches looked up to me as a leader and I embraced those roles,” Gronski said. “But I wouldn’t have had any of that success without them. I’m proud of the guys. They stepped up when we needed it.”
Gronski also credited the “Win Team" — another name for the Spartans’ scout team.
“They gave us amazing looks day in and day out,” Gronski said. “They sometimes beat the starters and that really got the blood flowing. That really helped motivate us and we were able to use that in the games.”
The plan heading into the season was that Gronski would share time at quarterback with junior Kaden Kimmes and play at running back when not behind center. That plan was paying off with the Spartans winning their first four games and six of seven.
“It was working great,” Gronski said. “Teams knew I was the returning starter, but when we went to Kaden, he had a whole different skill set that was better than mine. It was hard for teams to scout that and it gave us another weapon.”
Those plans came to an end when Kimmes suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the Spartans’ week seven 14-13 win over Menomonie.
“I didn’t know he got hurt until after the game, that was a tough loss for us,” Gronski said. “Despite his injury, Kaden was with us every day, he was a leader, was a big part of the success we had throughout the whole season.”
With Gronski returning to QB full time, the Spartans were soundly defeated at River Falls, 21-0.
“They were a very good team, they had a good scheme and they played an excellent game,” Gronski said. “I think we were caught by surprise by how well they were playing and we didn't play to our potential.”
Superior bounced back with a 39-6 win over Rice Lake, finishing the regular season with a 7-2 record, which led to a home playoff game with Marshfield.
The Spartans defeated Marshfield (44-37) then won road games over Pulaski (36-27) and Kaukauna (22-20) before losing to Brookfield East (34-8) in the state semifinals.
“When we found out we were getting a home playoff game, the expectations grew,” Gronski said. “We hadn’t had a home playoff game since about 2014 and coach told us to ‘make your own destiny and write your own books.’ We ran with it and wanted to be remembered as a good team that always gave 100%.”
Gronski will be remembered for having one of the Spartans’ best playoff runs ever. In four games, he rushed for 556 yards and 10 touchdowns, and was 23-of-50 passing for 400 yards, including two TDs.
“When Kaden went out with his injury, we lost a portion of our offense we were really starting to excel with,” DeMeyer said. “Almost immediately, you could see it in Jarrett's eyes that he was going to raise his game to yet another level and do whatever he could to help us win. That was very evident in that Menomonie game and each week thereafter.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Gronski was also named the Big Rivers Conference Offensive Player of the Year and named to the WFCA All-Region Team. … The Spartans were 12-1 and state champs in 1990, and 11-2 and state runner-ups in 1988. … Superior was also 11-1 (with a forfeit win over Hopkins) in 2014, and won 10 games in 1983 and 1986.
Gronski also credits his success to his parents, Anne and John, brother, Gunnar, and grandmother, Judy Baker.
“My mother and father have been to every single game,” Gronski said. “My dad would tailgate before every home game — that was always fun — and then my brother, Gunnar, he’s someone I look up to and one of the best guys I have ever met.
“I also have to give it to my grandma, Judy. She’s always been there for me, she’s always texting me and knows how to put a smile on my face.”
Gunnar Gronski was the 2016 Telegram Player of the Year.
“The values instilled through Jarrett’s upbringing are everything it takes to be successful — work for everything, make no excuses, own mistakes and do all you can to help others,” DeMeyer said. “His dad is a hall of fame college running back (Bemidji State), mom a standout athlete and older brother one of the top student-athletes to come out of SHS.
“Most important is what they all stand for. The entire family is true Spartans who live to serve and lead others. Jarrett has benefitted not only from genetics but from the lessons along the way and how hard he's worked for everything he's earned.”
Gronski will run track and field in the spring then set his sights on playing football at the collegiate level.
“My plan is to play college football — now it’s just deciding where,” Gronski said. “We’ll visit some schools and will eventually decide my future.”
Gronski has received scholarship offers from Minnesota State Moorhead, Bemidji State and Minnesota Crookston.
Rest of the team
Joining Gronski on the Superior Telegram All-Area team are Spartan teammates Brady Herbst, Luke Persons, Caden Stone, Carter Fonger, Cody Kurki and Will Schorr and Northwestern High School's Jagar Stillson, Drew Pearson, Jake Brill, Colin Trautt, Adam Thompson, Brennen Werner and Bryson Mazur.
Also receiving nominations were Northwestern seniors Isaac Nichols and Isaiah Huray.
Nichols was 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts and 56-of-60 on extra points. Also had 35 tackles, recovered two fumbles on defense and rushed for 270 yards and five TDs on offense.
Superior Telegram Football Players of the Year
2019 — Jarrett Gronski, Sr., Superior
2018 — Reagan Ruffi, Sr., Northwestern
2017 — Reagan Ruffi, Jr., Northwestern
2016 — Gunnar Gronski, Jr., Superior
2015 — Nate Pearson, Sr., Northwestern
2014 — Nick Mehlum, Sr., Superior
2013 — Nick Mehlum, Jr., Superior
2012 — Ben Erickson, Sr., Superior
2011 — Justin Alexson, Sr., Northwestern
2010 — T.J. Polkoski, Sr., Northwestern
2009 — Ryan Miesbauer, Sr., Northwestern
2008 — Joe Reichert, Sr., and Chris Blake, Sr., Superior
2007 — Chris Blake, Jr., Superior
2006 — Max Phillips, Sr., Superior; and Austin Lind, Sr., Northwestern
2005 — Kiel Fechtelkotter, Sr., Northwestern
2004 — Clayton Leith, Sr., Northwestern
2003 — Clayton Leith, Jr., Northwestern
2002 — Chad Izzard, Sr., Superior; and Mark Simonson, Sr., Northwestern