Monday, September 27, 2010

Proud to be a Spartan

This has not been a great season for the Superior Spartans football team. After making the WIAA playoffs a couple times, "Big Blue" missed out by a hair last season, and they are 0-5 so far this season, one loss from playoff elimination.

Bob DeMeyer has done a superb job with the program, building back after some awful seasons left many wondering if Superior would ever again approach the form it showed under Tom Mestelle, which peaked with a state title that now sits 20 years in the rear-view mirror.

Friday was -- not surprisingly -- a blowout loss. The opponent was Menomonie, a longtime power in the Big Rivers Conference and a state Division II contender this season. The Indians are nearly unbeatable at home, and they were very good on this night, winning 52-14 over Superior.

The Spartans fell behind early, were victims of a perfectly-executed onside kick, and couldn't climb out of that hole. They were simply overmatched.

But something happened at the end of the game. With the Spartans down 46-14 in the final minutes, DeMeyer and his players did something so incredibly classy that it should put a smile on the face of anyone who lives in Superior, knows where Superior is, or knows someone who attended the school at some point.

We'll let the Dunn County News pick it up from here.

With less than a minute remaining in the contest, Menomonie senior receiver Sam Kolden, who has been a long time member of the team despite having a developmental disability was put in the game and thrown a screen pass by senior quarterback James Nelson. Kolden caught the ball and took off down the field at a relatively conservative pace while Spartan defenders dove at his feet. Kolden raced 66 yards for the game’s final touchdown.

“Superior’s guys are a class act,” said (Menomonie coach Joe) LaBuda. “It was a great thing they did at the end.”

A letter posted on the Spartans' Facebook page shows even more appreciation for the act.

Both teams played hard though over time the score tipped in Menomonie's favor. Our team has one player who, due to special needs, is only occasionally able to be on the field. On this particular night, after a conversation between head coaches, our special player took to the field in his wide receiver position. Teams lined up, ball was snapped, a gentle pass found its way into his hands, and with great care and energy Superior players lunged in pursuit knowing well the dream they granted was more important than the six points it placed on the Menomonie score board.

The crowd was a mixture of joy and humble silence as we observed a larger than life gift given by these Superior HS men. This act of honor clearly reflects character, an attribute that our society so yearns to see. That Friday night the Superior HS Varsity football team and its coaching staff exhibited, without appology, a willingness to honor the "least of these". To the Superior staff and players that held our stadium in awe that evening, I extend our deepest appreciation. The scoreboard that night told only part of the story. Might their display of character serve to remind the fans and others that the scoreboard only tells one aspect of the story. The coaching leadership at Superior has the right priorities.

Couldn't have said it better myself. As a Superior High School alum (1995, baby!), I couldn't be prouder of DeMeyer and his players.

Yes, this has been a rough season for the kids. In the end, however, they provided a young man they didn't know with a memory to last a lifetime. It's the kind of character that might not help them win any games, but it's the kind of character that will help them with the things that really do matter in life.

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