Somerset football team don't slip up against Prescott
The 2011 loss to Prescott will remain a black mark in the legacy of the Somerset football team, but the Spartans made sure there was no repeat of the 2011 debacle when they opened their 2012 Middle Border Conference schedule last Friday.
The Spartans rolled to a 34-0 lead by halftime and finished with a 40-17 win over Prescott.
Somerset played well on both sides of the ball in the first half of Friday's game. The Somerset offense scored on all of its possessions in the first half. The Somerset defense limited Prescott to 93 yards of offense in the game and the defense also generated one of the Spartan touchdowns. Prescott was only able to get one first down in the first half and that came on a penalty.
The defensive touchdown was the result of a well-timed blindside blitz by the Spartans. Linebacker Luke Praschak came in untouched from the back side of left-handed Prescott quarterback Alex Helmer. Praschak delivered a crushing hit that left Helmer lying on the field for several minutes. The impact jarred the ball from Helmer's grasp and Somerset lineman Derrick Berry did the "scoop and score" on the fumble recovery.
The Spartans were able to find much more diversity in their offense compared to the season opener against Bloomer. The Spartans caught Prescott by surprise on the opening play of the game, with quarterback Tyler Ledbeter finding tight end Gaelin Elmore for a 53-yard gain on a pass down the middle of the field.
That led to the Spartans' first touchdown, three plays later, when fullback Vern Breault powered into the end zone from seven yards out.
It didn't take long for the Spartans to score on their second possession. A long run by halfback Robbie Lang moved the Spartans deep into Prescott territory and Breault banged into the end zone again moments later.
Lang and fellow halfback Gabe Flandrick scored the next two touchdowns for the Spartans. Getting the halfbacks more involved in the offense was a big part of the game plan for Friday. Prescott obliged by overplaying its defense to the strong side of Somerset's offense. That left lots of open field for the halfbacks to run.
Somerset coach Bruce Larson said the halfbacks have one of the toughest roles in the offense, because they have to make difficult reads to block the correct defenders. Because the halfbacks are first-year starters, this is a work in progress, though the coaches said the halfbacks made big improvements in handling their blocking assignments on Friday.
The fifth Spartan touchdown of the first half was Berry's 40-yard fumble return touchdown, which came with 34 seconds remaining in the half.
The Spartans also scored on the first possession of the second half. The big play in the drive was a long run by Ledbeter, who used a pretty ball fake to move a defender out of the hole that he ran through.
Coach Larson places great stock in the adage that the biggest improvement made by a team comes between its first and second games. He said he was pleased with the progress that was made, but said the team is still far from where it needs to be.
"It was better. Offensively we had our moments," Larson said. "On offense we're still missing too many assignments and we need to do a better job of finishing games."
The coaches were not pleased that the Spartan reserves allowed Prescott to score 17 points in the fourth quarter on a field goal and two rushing touchdowns.
The Spartans play their first home game of the season this Friday when the Ellsworth Panthers visit. Ellsworth was one of the most improved teams in the MBC last season and the Spartan coaches expect Ellsworth to be a title contender this year. The Panthers are coming off a 24-0 win over Amery in their MBC opener last Friday.
Coach Larson said Ellsworth has a diverse offense with two good ball carriers, a talented receiver and a quarterback who distributes the ball well.