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Prep football: After a disappointing 2021, Superior is ‘on the right track’

The Spartans won just a single game last season, but they're ready to put that in the rearview mirror.

Superior’s Will Lampton pushes off on the blocking sled
Superior’s Will Lampton pushes off on the blocking sled before blasting past a teammate during practice at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex on Tuesday, Aug. 9, in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — After a summer of relatively light use, the football field at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex came alive the last two weeks as Superior started football practice.

The Spartans are coming off one of their toughest seasons in recent memory. They were just 1-8 last fall after a strange, pandemic-caused spring season just a few months before.

“The spring season was a factor, no doubt, to get back in it and put the pads right back on,” DeMeyer said. “But that is what it is, we can’t control that. We’ve moved on, we’ve learned from it and we know that our record is not indicative of the kind of team we had last year. Every kid from last year’s team is back and their attitudes are awesome. We had a tremendous offseason and our chemistry right now is where it needs to be. … The attitude, the work ethic, everything about what we’re doing right now — we’re on the right track.”

Superior quarterback Carson Gotelaere catches a pass during practice
Superior quarterback Carson Gotelaere catches a pass during practice at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex on Tuesday, Aug. 9, in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Turnovers plagued the Spartans in 2021, costing them several chances in a game, including their homecoming matchup against Rice Lake. The Warriors scored touchdowns after recovering Superior fumbles on its first two drives in a 38-18 loss for the Spartans.

“We’re constantly driving the point home that we’ve got to secure the football,” DeMeyer said. “Every time we touch it, we’ve got to take care of it. … The takeaway-to-turnover ratio is a big factor in the outcome of a football game and we learned that in almost every game we played last year.”

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Senior offensive and defensive lineman Sam Berthiaume said 2021 was difficult because many of the games came down to an early turnover that got the Spartans in a hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of.

“We use a term: ‘park it,’” Berthiaume said. “Obviously, we want to learn from our mistakes, but park it, go focus on this year and flush last season away. We all evaluated it last year, figured out what we did wrong and we’re going to fix it this year.”

Superior quarterback Hayden Smith throws a pass
Superior quarterback Hayden Smith throws a pass during practice at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex on Tuesday, Aug. 9, in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Senior Hayden Smith will start the Spartans’ opener against Wausau West, but he and 2021 starter Carson Gotelaere will each get snaps after Gotelaere returns from an injury in week two.

Smith said the offensive line is going to be one of the strengths of the team and will allow the Spartans to have a versatile attack.

“We’re going to be a tough team,” Smith said. “We’re going to push forward, be physical and we’re going to do a lot of different things with a lot of different people. People are going to be moving around and we’ll do a lot of great things with people who are doing the best they can do at different speeds.”

Superior assistant coach Rick Kennelly talks to the line during practice
Superior assistant coach Rick Kennelly talks to the line during practice at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex on Tuesday, Aug. 9, in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

DeMeyer said senior Jack Rivord — younger brother of current Minnesota Duluth Bulldog Ross Rivord — will be a key player at running back and defensive end this year, but the Spartans won’t rely on any single player. Instead, they'll try to give their top effort regardless of what the win total is at the end of the season.

“We’re not focusing on winning, so to speak,” DeMeyer said. “We’re focusing on bringing our best with everything we do on the practice field, the game field, in the classroom and in the community, and those things will translate to success on the field.”

Superior will open its season at Wausau West at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19.

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Superior assistant coach Jim Hogan runs the team through drills
Superior assistant coach Jim Hogan runs the team through drills during practice at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex on Tuesday, Aug. 9, in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
More from Jamey Malcomb
The Hawks have won five straight and played their most “complete game of the season,” according to coach Dave Thompson.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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