Somerset earns return trip to state football championships
The Somerset football team will play in its third WIAA Division 5 state championship game this Thursday at 4 p.m.
Somerset (13-0) will face undefeated Lancaster in this year's Division 5 state title game. To reach Thursday's title game, Somerset eliminated two-time defending state champion Brillion on Saturday, 16-0.
Somerset played another smothering defensive game to eliminate Brillion. The Spartan defense provided two of the scores. Somerset's offense produced the first score, driving the length of the field for a 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore fullback Brock Montpetit in the first quarter.
That score severely damaged Brillion's game plan. The Lions live off playing a conservative game and forcing the opponent into mistakes. By taking the early lead, the Spartans forced Brillion to be less conservative in its play calling.
The Spartan defense earned its first points in the second quarter. The Spartans had a huge pass rush all through the game. Dylan Schachtner and Montpetit put a heavy rush on Brillion quarterback Dan Vechart, who tried to pass just as he was being sacked. The ball fluttered a few feet, where Spartan defensive end Jake Asp grabbed the pass and returned it 49 yards for the touchdown.
The final Somerset points came in the third quarter. Somerset had a drive stopped near the Brillion goal line. Defensive lineman Justin Neumann then showcased his quickness, slicing between two blockers to sack Vechart for a safety.
Brillion had beaten Somerset 23-14 in the 2004 Division 5 state championship game. While the Spartans weren't looking to avenge last year's loss, they played with a heightened focus, particularly on defense.
Brillion's offense could make no progress against the Spartans for much of the game. Brillion was held to 46 yards on the ground and 95 yards in the air. Meanwhile, Somerset's ground game was churning up territory. Senior quarterback John Anderson had another outstanding game, rushing for 242 yards in 31 carries. Montpetit was also busy, toting the ball 24 times for 97 yards.
The only drawback to Somerset's performance was fumbles, which has been the main deficiency for the team all year. The Spartans fumbled six times in this game, losing three of them. Two of the lost fumbles came deep in Brillion territory when the Spartans were on the verge of driving the ball into the end zone.
The Spartans wasted no time exerting their dominance in Saturday's game. They took the opening kickoff and drove 77 yards for the opening score of the game. On four straight plays during the drive the Spartans had runs of 12 yards or more. The quickness of the Somerset blockers allowed Anderson and Montpetit to break through Brillion's front line and get good yardage.
Montpetit capped the nine-play opening drive with a 1-yard dive into the end zone for the touchdown at the 7:59 mark.
Somerset's defense shut down Brillion on three plays in the Lions' opening possession of the game. Brillion then punted, and penalties pushed the Spartans back to their own 2-yard line. The Spartans then drove 97 yards before fumbling the ball away.
It seemed that each time the Spartan offense had a miscue in this game, the defense just got tougher. Moments after this fumble, Asp got his interception return touchdown.
Somerset coach Bruce Larson said the defense will face its best test of the season in the state championship game, against a Lancaster team that has exceptional speed.
"Our defense has played fast all year," Larson said. "It will be interesting to see if they can play as fast as they do."
Lancaster runs an option offense, very similar to Somerset's. One of the key players on defense for the Spartans against Brillion was Montpetit, who had two quarterback sacks and an interception from his linebacker position.
Brillion has several ties to the local area. Brillion's school superintendent is Nick Madison, the son of former Somerset school administrator Dianne Beeler. Brillion is coached by Pete Kittel, who is related to many of the Kittels in the New Richmond and Amery area. The game was played at Thom Field in Wausau, which is where Somerset athletic director Brad Nemec played his high school football.
Somerset is hoping to earn its second state football championship. They earned their first gold ball in 2002, when Somerset defeated Marshall 28-20 in the Division 5 state championship game.
Somerset 16, Brillion 0
Somerset 6 8 2 0 16
Brillion 0 0 0 0 0
Som -- Brock Montpetit, 1 yard run (run failed)
Som -- Jake Asp, 49 yard interception return (John Anderson run)
Som -- Safety, Justin Neumann tackled Dan Vechart in end zone
First Downs 7 23
Rushing Yards 46 388
Passing Yards 95 12
Passes 5-12-3 int. 1-1-0 int.
Penalties 4-30 5-21
Som -- John Anderson 31-242, Brock Montpetit 24-97, Evan Kowalski 4-27, Tom Fohrenkamm 2-17, Alex Sullivan 1-3, Drew Baillargeon 2-2
Som -- John Anderson 1-1-0 int., 12 yards
Som -- Brett Schreiner 1-12