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Five Spartans nab all-state honors, 11 local players named all-region

The outstanding success of the three local football teams was reflected in the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Region and All-State teams.

The 2014 WFCA All-State team was announced Monday and it includes five players from the Somerset football team that will be playing for the Division 4 state championship this Thursday.

Two Somerset players earned first team all-state honors. Seniors Austin Harty and Max Praschak received the first team honors. Harty was selected as a first team offensive lineman and Praschak was named as a first team inside linebacker.

Receiving honorable mention all-state honors for the Spartans were seniors Reed Baillargeon, Heaven Hunt and Tyler Lueck. Baillargeon was honored for his work as the Spartans' quarterback. Hunt was honored as a defensive back. Lueck had the rare honor of being named all-state at two positions, as a defensive lineman and a punter.

Praschak earned first team honors after ranking among the state leaders in tackles for much of the season. Praschak is averaging more than 12 tackles per game and his sideline-to-sideline range was one of the keys in Somerset's outstanding run defense.

Harty is the leader of the anonymous group of Somerset offensive linemen who have dominated the line of scrimmage all season. Harty and his cohorts on the line have allowed the Spartans to average more than 305 yards rushing per game this season.

Baillargeon has rushed for more than 1,300 yards this season, one of the leading totals for a quarterback in the state this season. He has also developed immensely in his ability to read defenses and to recognize his keys on whether to keep the ball or get it to one of his running backs.

Hunt is a defensive back who defends the run like a linebacker. He has nearly 100 tackles this season, an eye-popping total for a defensive back. That shows his willingness to charge toward the line and stuff any running back.

Lueck didn't get many chances to punt this season, but when he did, his booming punts helped him to build a reputation as one of the best punters on this side of the state. His non-stop motor is a key part of the Spartans' stingy run defense.

All-Region Somerset

The five Somerset players who received all-state honors were the only Spartans named to the 2014 WFCA All-Region team that was announced last week.

Harty, Lueck and Praschak were named as All-Region players on both offense and defense, while Baillargeon was selected on offense and Hunt on defense.

All-Region New Richmond

New Richmond had four players earn All-Region honors this season. Seniors Noah Berger and Derek Dowd were honored, as were juniors Zach Dietzler and Brady Maus.

Berger and Dowd are three-year starters who were pivotal in turning the Tigers into a winning team with their work on and off the field. Berger was honored after being the Tigers' starting center the past three years. Tiger coach Keith Badger said Berger didn't have a single bad snap this season.

“He's like the quarterback of the linemen,” Badger said. “He's making calls based on the things he's seeing and he did it flawlessly.”

Dowd was one of the premier cornerbacks in the area. He led the region with five interceptions. He was equally outstanding in pass coverage and in run support.

“I thought Dowd was all-state level,” Badger said. “He understands the game really well. We could be more complex with things (in defensive assignments) because he could handle it.”

Having two juniors with All-Region honors to build around for next season is a rare position for the Tigers. Maus drew most of his attention for his play at quarterback this season, but the All-Region recognition shows he's just as valuable to the Tigers on defense.

“He has that hockey mentality. He and Jake Singerhouse really played well together at linebacker,” Badger said.

Dietzler didn't post huge numbers, mainly because the Tigers spread the ball around so well in their passing game. But the number that caught the attention of opposing coaches was Dietzler's 18.2 yards per reception. Opponents had to respect his big-play ability.

All-Region St. Croix Central

Two St. Croix Central players were honored with All-Region recognition. Senior Decker Grass was recognized for his work on both offense and defense, while junior Cody Gostovich was selected for his defensive work.

Grass has been a starter for most of his career as a Panther lineman. Central coach Tony DiSalvo said the standout season capped a stellar career for Grass.

“He's got good feet, a low center of gravity and he's got a good motor. He could play for any (college) around here,” DiSalvo said.

Gostovich earned All-Region honors after being named Defensive Player of the Year for the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. Gostovich led the Panthers with 97 tackles this season. DiSalvo said that after Sunday's team banquet, Gostovich was reminding his teammates to be ready to get back into their weight lifting regime the next morning.

“He's the kind of kid who can handle it,” DiSalvo said of the numerous awards Gostovich received as a junior. “He'll back it up.”

The Panthers announced their team awards during Sunday's banquet. Here are the award winners.

Rookie of the Year: Hunter Schmidt

Scout Team Player of the Year: Cody Kavitz

Most Improved: Evan Nielsen and Luke Budrow

Best Defensive Player: Cody Gostovich

Best Offensive Player: Trent Smith

Most Valuable Player: Decker Grass

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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