Spartans have target on backs

The Superior High School football team has been mentioned by some as the team to beat in northern Wisconsin this season. The Spartans put that target on their backs with one of the most successful seasons in school history in 2014 when they finis...

Ross Kennelly
Superior High School’s Ross Kennelly runs over a Rice Lake player during the Rice Lake scrimmage last Friday in Rice Lake. (Jed Carlson /

The Superior High School football team has been mentioned by some as the team to beat in northern Wisconsin this season.

The Spartans put that target on their backs with one of the most successful seasons in school history in 2014 when they finished 11-1 overall, won the Big Rivers Conference championship for the first time and won their first two playoff games before losing to Menasha, the eventual state champion.

“Last year was a magical season, that team raised the bar quite a bit,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “We had great leadership and outstanding athletes, but we also put in a lot of time and effort in to make that happen.

“The expectations this season are high. We’ve made the playoffs and have had a pretty good run the past few years, but this year’s kids really seem to understand what it takes to maintain that kind of level and keep things rolling.”

Leading the Spartans into the new season are senior captains’ Ross Kennelly and Beau Reder. More captains were expected to be announced prior to tonight’s game.


“We talk every day about being leaders, regardless if you’re a captain, an upperclassmen or a sophomore,” DeMeyer said. “Everybody has the capacity and capability to lead, so we’re challenging all of the kids to do that every day.”

Kennelly led Superior on offense last year with 855 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on 133 attempts. He also caught 12 passes for 301 yards and five TDs. On defense, he led the Spartans with 125 tackles, six sacks and three interceptions.

Reder played linebacker and did the punting last season. This time around he, along with junior Gunner Johnson, has the task of replacing quarterback Nick Mehlum, who was all-state last season and the Big Rivers Conference Player of the Year.

“Beau does some special things with his feet,” DeMeyer said. “He’s an explosive, athletic kid and he’s got a skill set that’s different than Nick’s. But he’s very capable of running our offense.

“Gunner is also very capable. He’s a scrappy gamer. When he plays within our scheme he executes very well and we move the ball up and down the field. He’s a left-hander, but that doesn’t change anything. His accuracy is getting better every day and his confidence is growing every practice.”

As of earlier this week, DeMeyer still hadn’t settled on a starting quarterback.

“Ball security is a major emphasis for us,” DeMeyer said. “We will still evaluate at practice this week and quite honestly, it may change daily or weekly, depending on who is best taking care of the ball and has the hot hand.

“Both Beau and Gunner are very capable - we just need consistency.”


Kennelly and Reder are also among a number of Spartans that have plans on playing college football.

While Kennelly has already verbally committed to attend North Dakota State, Reder, Keegan Stanley, Beau Girard, Brett Lozon, Joey Miller, Garrett Hobson, Mitch Anderson and Dalton DeRosia are also getting looks from college coaches.

“We have more recruitable kids in this class than any other of my 10 years,” DeMeyer said. “All of those kids are getting looks and are very capable of playing at the college level. They’re great kids, high character kids and have prepared accordingly.

“It really makes us (coaching staff) feel good. That’s a big part of my job if that’s what they want to do.”

Reder has made multiple visits to the University of Wisconsin, including for the Badgers’ April 25 spring game at Camp Randall Stadium.

Additional  schools showing interest in Spartan players are Northern Iowa, Illinois State, Eastern Michigan, Minnesota Duluth and Sioux Falls.

“If they aspire to play college football, I’ll do everything in my power to help them get there,” DeMeyer said. “They do their part, and I have to do mine.”




Joining Kennelly in the running back/slot position are Anderson and Girard, both regulars last season. They will be joined by Lozon, junior Zach Tharge and sophomore Gunnar Gronski.

Anderson had 243 yards rushing, caught 22 passes for 392 yards and had five total touchdowns. Girard caught 39 passes for 803 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also rushed for 139 yards and a TD on 13 carries.

Lozon didn’t play football the past two seasons after playing quarterback as a freshman.

“He’s all business when it comes to working and getting better,” DeMeyer said. “He does everything it takes every single day to get better at what he does.

“Gronski is also a very impressive sophomore. He’s a kid that gets it. He has work ethic, toughness and confidence. He has it all.”

Competing for playing time at wide receiver are seniors Brendan French and Nick Long; and juniors Sam Kline, Nick Ferrando and Chase Elder.

Anchors on the offensive line are Stanley and DeRosia (center) and six underclassmen competing for the other spots, include junior Christian Pettit and sophomores Sam Oosten, Oscar Flaherty, Dylan Lowney, Michael LaJoie and DJ Martin.


 “The offensive line was inexperienced last year but they grew and got better in a hurry,” DeMeyer said. “After losing three seniors we have to get better in a hurry again. The guys are working hard and each practice they’re catching on.”



The Spartans will once again use a 3-5 defensive scheme (three down linemen and five linebackers).

Anchoring the defensive line are Miller and junior Josiah McDonald.

“Joey is a returning starter that had a heck of season for us last year,” DeMeyer said. “He’s a big strong physical kid as his Josiah, who had a tremendous off season.

They will be joined by Stanley, Pettit and senior Donovan Luoma.

Kennelly will be joined at inside linebacker with junior Blake Graskey, senior Harry Doane and Gronski.


“Kennelly is our leader on defense, he’s phenomenal,” DeMeyer said. “The other guys are all very capable and are getting better like everybody else.”

Along with Reder, the outside linebackers are Hobson, Tharge, Elder and French.

“They’re all very athletic,” DeMeyer said.

In the backfield, Girard, Anderson, sophomore Max Plunkett, senior Austin Sears and sophomore Luke Droogas are at cornerback.

“Girard is a returning all-conference player back there,” DeMeyer said. “Every Friday night he’s going to be one of the best athletes on the field. He’s having a good camp and is one of our leaders.

“Mitch is also explosive and athletic. He can play a lot of different positions. We’re asking him to help solidify our defense.”

Girard and Droogas will help out at safety along with Lozon.

“Lozon’s a ball hawk,” DeMeyer said. “His fundamentals are spot on. Droogas and Girard can play there as well. We have a lot of kids competing for secondary spots.”


Hobson was third in tackles last season with 67, including 50 solo. Girard had 51 tackles, including 43 solo. He also led the team with six interceptions.


Special teams

Kline will take over the kicking duties after the graduation of Mackenzie Schwarz, and Reder is the returning punter.

“Mackenzie was a weapon for us,” DeMeyer said. “Sam was his understudy, has been working hard and should be a solid kicker for us, too.”

Reder averaged 31.9 yards on 30 punts. Schwarz was 5-of-6 on field-goal attempts and a perfect 58-of-58 on extra points during the regular season.



“We have a lot of depth in some areas and the competition is very healthy,” DeMeyer said. “Our No. 1 quality right now, in addition to leadership and chemistry and that kind of stuff, is we are very unselfish. There are no red flags, they’re just working on getting better each day and helping each other to get better.

“That was a huge reason for our success last year. They didn’t care who got all of the catches and scored all of the touchdowns. They weren’t worried about getting their name in the paper. It was all about succeeding as a team.”



After playing a record seven games at home last season (including two playoff games), the Spartans will only play three regular season games this fall at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.

The change in Minnesota’s scheduling cost the Spartans a Week 2 home game with Hopkins, Minn.

Superior will now play Menomonee Falls at 3 p.m. on Aug. 28 at D.C. Everest.

 “Ray Kosey (SHS activities director) was working like crazy to find us somebody to play,” DeMeyer said. “After we lost Hopkins, it was hard to find a team to play. Some schools wouldn’t play us because of size and there were some that wouldn’t travel this far. Menomonee Falls was in the same situation as us, so we’re playing a neutral site.

“We were prepared to have bye week, have some sort of intra scrimmage and just make it a fun night.”

The change in Minnesota also affected Menomonie, which will now host Greendale and play at Somerset; and Hudson, which will host perennial power Arrowhead on Aug. 28.

“They have the same mentality as we do - we all want to play the best teams we can,” DeMeyer said. “Every year we want the best non-conference schedule we can get. We want to be tested and get ready for our conference.”

The Spartans open tonight at Merrill.

Superior christened its new stadium with a 31-7 win over the Blue Jays last season. The Spartans led just 14-0 at the half.

“The first half was close, but the kids came out in the second half and really put things together and we were able to pull away.”



Superior won its first BRC title last season and is 36-48 since joining the league in 2002.

Since 1989, Menomonie has won 18 championships, including seven straight from 2000 to 2006.

Superior snapped Hudson’s run of two straight league titles in 2012 and 2013.

The Spartans open BRC play at Hudson on Sept. 4.

Superior snapped a four-game losing streak to Hudson with a 35-28 win last year at home. The Raiders entered the game ranked No. 3 in the state and with 19 straight wins in the BRC.

“Year in and year out they’re one of the favorites in our conference,” DeMeyer said. “They’re up there with anybody in the state, as are Menomonie and Rice Lake at their level.

“The Big Rivers is loaded again. Every Friday night is going to be a battle.”

The Spartans’ first home game is against Chippewa Falls on Sept. 11.

They also host Menomonie on Sept. 18.

“Menomonie has quarterback Nate Stanley, who is going to Iowa,” DeMeyer said. “He’s a big, strong physical kid that college programs are looking for. Every year they have a strong quarterback as well as a strong supporting cast.

“Every team is going to be drastically improved. Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire North and River Falls are going to be much better, and Eau Claire Memorial is one of the top teams and can battle with anybody. We saw them at the UMD team camp and they’re going to be fighting for one of the top spots.”



The Spartans tuned up for the season with a four-team scrimmage last Friday at Rice Lake. Also in action were Northwestern and Somerset.

“I was pleased with our execution so early in the season,” DeMeyer said. “We try to keep things basic, but one thing we noticed is that we need to play with more energy and much faster. We will do that, as we’ve shown that in practice. We cannot use the heat as an excuse, however, I do understand that it was a factor.”

DeMeyer also noted that a number of new players looked good.

“I was impressed with the effort of our younger kids, especially on the offensive line,” DeMeyer said. “They’re getting better daily and playing with more confidence.


Coaching staff

DeMeyer has a record of 43-43 in nine seasons as coach at Superior. The Spartans are also 30-33 in the BRC during that time, including 18-4 over the past two seasons.

The varsity coaching staff includes: Aaron Anderson, Aaron Fezzey, Walter Gaulke, Sean Gallagher, Chad Johnson, Rick Kennelly, Rich Reder, Rob Scott at Larry Thomas.

Trevor Sorenson is the head JV coach. His assistants are Steve Hendry, Shaun Mattson, Jesse Falter and Chris Fuhrman.

The head coach of the freshmen team is Mike Weinandt. His assistants are George Eisenmann, Scott McNorton, Nick Olson and Jesse Samarziya.

“We have a great staff,” DeMeyer said. “These guys have given up a lot of time, they’re very patient, all about building relationships and helping the kids on and off the field. As a bonus they’re students of the game and want to be the best coaches they can.

They teach the game of football the way it’s supposed to be taught. I couldn’t ask for anything more from any one of these assistant coaches. They’re fantastic.”



“Leadership, athleticism, unselfishness and chemistry,” DeMeyer said. “If we can keep working on them we’ll be Ok.

“We have a pretty young team and need to continue to improve. Our young kids have to realize right away that varsity football is a step up from freshmen or JV football. They have to be mentally prepared, confident and can never take a play off in practice or a game.”



“One team, one fight - we talk about fighting about for who we are, what we stand for and each other,” DeMeyer said. “It’s not just our team on the field, it’s the community, the school and the fans. It takes everybody to be successful.

“The 2015 team is taking it one step further and will “Finish the Fight.”



“It would be unfair to our seniors to not say that our goal every year is to win the conference,” DeMeyer said. “But before that we need to get better every day, get closer as a team, and be the best we can be on and off the field. We also have academic goals, something we’ve met that the last two years.

“There’s a direct correlation to being a good person, working hard in school and having success  on the field. This isn’t just about football and winning games. We want the kids to have an awesome experience, become a better person and carry that with then their entire life.

“Once we make the playoffs we want to go as far as we can. We have to take it one game at a time.”



The Spartans’ team managers are Tyler Brue-Velin, Katelyn Olson and Rianna Fortin. 

Varsity cheerleaders include Aleigha Anderson, Sarah Backlund, Questan Barker, Hailey Ghode, Rachael King, Rachel Lundeen, Hayley Olson, Jordan Suksi, Jasmine Thundercloud, Allison Valentine and Taylor Zambory. They are coached by Emily Kelly and Amy McCusker.


Superior High School
2015 Football Roster
Head Coach: Bob DeMeyer
G HT WT Pos.
1 Tradel Nichelson 10 5-10 175 HB/LB
2 Ross Kennelly 12 6-0 205 RB/LB
3 Ben Andrews 10 6-0 168 WR/DB
4 Brett Lozon 12 6-0 185 HB/DB
5 Mitch Anderson 12 5-10 187 HB/DB
6 Joey Eliason 10 6-0 163 WR/DB
7 A. Parkinson 11 5-5 135 WR/DB
8 Kaleb Ullan 10 5-11 165 WR/LB
9 Logan Stone 10 5-5 140 RB/DB
10 Beau Girard 12 5-11 182 HB/DB
11 Matt Buerger 10 5-10 168 WR/DB
12 Max Plunkett 10 6-2 181 WR/DB
13 Luke Drougas 10 5-11 165 QB/DB
14 Brett Austin 12 5-8 147 WR/DB
15 Devin Samarzia 10 5-7 130 WR/DB
16 Spencer Udeen 10 5-8 142 QB/DB
17 Jon Cronin 12 5-10 160 HB/DB
18 Austin Sears 12 5-7 152 WR/DB
19 G. Johnson 11 5-10 170 QB/DB
20 Kain Walberg 10 5-6 133 HB/DB
21 Travis Sharpe 11 5-9 145 WR/DB
22 Beau Reder 12 6-1 196 QB/DB
23 Garrett Hobson 12 6-1 195 WR/LB
24 Kobie Kmecik 10 5-8 143 WR/DB
25 Carl Fortune Jr. 11 5-8 160 RB/LB
26 Seth Sutherland 11 5-7 144 HB/DB
27 Jon Booth 11 5-6 138 HB/LB
28 Corey Sanders 10 5-10 165 HB/LB
29 D. Luoma 12 6-0 195 RB/DL
30 Trent Sikorski 12 6-1 170 WR/DB
31 Zach Tharge 11 5-11 170 HB/LB
33 Anthony Gallian 11 5-9 175 OL/LB
34 Jordan Hicks 10 5-10 155 WR/DB
35 Joseph Carter 10 5-9 145 HB/DB
36 Bryce Connolly 10 5-10 145 HB/DB
37 H. Summers 10 5-10 155 HB/DB
38 Dom. D-Auria 10 5-11 170 WR/DB
39 A.Yabandith 11 5-7 150 RB/LB
40 William Flynn 10 6-0 158 HB/LB
41 Brendan French 12 5-10 170 WR/LB
42 Bill Manion 10 5-11 167 HB/DB
43 Gunnar Gronski 10 5-10 180 RB/LB
45 Stephen Gee 10 5-11 160 HB/LB
46 B. McClure 10 5-6 135 RB/LB
47 G. Hackensmith 10 5-11 139 WR/DB
48 Tristan Searle 10 5-6 140 WR/DB
49 Necco Weiland 10 5-7 130 WR/DB
50 Brandon Foerst 12 5-11 190 OL/DL
51 Christian Pettit 11 5-10 190 OL/DL
52 Blake Graskey 11 6-0 192 WR/LB
53 J. McDonald 11 5-10 220 OL/DL
54 Joey Miller 12 5-10 250 OL/DL
55 Austin Smith 11 5-10 160 OL/DL
56 DJ Martin 10 5-11 220 OL/DL
57 Jason Patnode 11 5-8 205 OL/DL
58 Jared Danovsky 11 5-10 175 OL/LB
59 Aaron Johnson 11 5-10 173 OL/LB
60 J. Fernandez 11 5-10 250 OL/DL
61 Conner Wallene 10 5-10 180 OL/LB
62 Chris McKenzie 10 5-8 160 OL/LB
63 Kaitlyn Glenn 11 5-7 150 OL/LB
64 Harrison Doane 12 5-10 175 OL/LB
65 Ethan Berg 10 5-11 170 OL/LB
66 T.Cockerham 10 5-10 210 OL/DL
67 Michael LaJoie 10 5-9 228 OL/DL
68 Carter Shoudy 10 5-11 185 OL/DL
70 Sam Oosten 10 6-1 197 OL/DL
71 D.Sullivan-Pettit 10 6-1 210 OL/DL
73 Aaron Roebke 12 6-1 265 OL/DL
74 Troy Rep 11 5-11 160 OL/DL
75 Oscar Flaherty 10 5-9 225 OL/DL
76 Dalton DeRosia 12 5-10 240 OL/DL
77 Keegan Stanley 12 6-5 270 OL/DL
78 Dylan Lowney 10 6-0 250 OL/DL
79 Steven Nett 10 5-10 190 OL/DL
80 Drake Samarzia 10 5-7 150 WR/DB
81 Nick Long 12 5-11 145 WR/DB
82 Cameron Borgh 10 6-2 170 WR/DB
83 Nathan Tunell 11 6-2 165 WR/LB
84 Jack Sannes 11 5-7 160 WR/LB
85 N. Schimenek 11 5-9 165 HB/DB
86 Nick Ferrando 11 6-0 160 WR/DB
87 Sam Kline 11 6-2 173 WR/DB
88 Coy Christmas 10 5-11 160 WR/DB
89 Chase Elder 11 6-0 165 WR/LB
94 Chris Sandlin 11 5-11 165 OL/DL
98 B. Anderson 11 6-0 179 OL/DL
Varsity Coaching Staff

Aaron Anderson, Aaron Fezzey, Walter Gaulke, Sean Gallagher, Chad Johnson, Rick Kennelly, Rich Reder, Rob Scott, Larry Thomas

JV Coaching Staff

Head coach Trevor Sorensen, Steven Hendry, Shaun Mattson, Jesse Falter, Chris Fuhrman

Freshmen Coaching Staff

Head coach Mike Weinandt, George Eisenmann, Scott McNorton, Nick Olson, Jesse Samarziya

Managers - Tyler Brue-elin, Katelyn Olson and Rianna Fortin

Athletic Trainer - Mike Gogolin

Equipment Manager - Tom Lozon

Statistician - Jason Kalin

Audio-Visual Tech - Al Reich 

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