Tigers play with hearts on their sleeves
The New Richmond football players played with their hearts on their sleeves on Friday.
Many of the Tiger players had their arms taped for the game. Written on the tape was "21."
This was done in honor of former teammate Ross Anderson, who wore #21 the past few seasons. Anderson died the day before from injuries suffered in a car accident. Anderson graduated in 2003 and had been the starting halfback for the previous two seasons.
The Tigers played with a great deal of emotion. After struggling at times in the first half, the Tigers were able to channel that energy into a superb second half, outscoring Prescott 28-0 in the second half to win 35-21.
With this win, the Tigers now play for a chance to get into the WIAA playoffs. If the Tigers win this Thursday, they will lock up a playoff berth. It won't be an easy task, because they are playing at Somerset, the Middle Border Conference leader.
Last year New Richmond upset Somerset in the regular season finale, 40-9.
The New Richmond-Somerset game has quickly become a sizeable rivalry.
"Last week was our big game," said New Richmond coach Jeff Albarado. "If we don't win that one, this game is just for bragging rights."
Needing the win over Prescott was huge to the Tigers, but the game took on a larger importance last Thursday with the word of Anderson's death.
"We had some kids very much affected," Albarado said. "Several of the kids are very close friends of his. We told them we knew Ross would want them to focus on the game. I think that's something Ross was really good at."
Albarado left it up to the players on how they wanted to show their respect for Anderson. The players had Anderson's "21" taped to their sleeves and different parts of their jerseys.
The Anderson family asked senior Scott Emerson to wear Anderson's jersey for this game.
Fittingly, it was Emerson who came up with the pivotal play of the game. Prescott had controlled the action in the first half of the game, taking a 21-6 lead by halftime.
Early in the third quarter, the Tigers faced a third down from their own 40. The Tigers called a short wingback pass to Emerson. He broke the initial tackle and was able to get down the field for a 60-yard touchdown.
From that point on, momentum was clearly in the Tigers' favor. Prescott was held to 88 yards of offense in the second half. The Tigers pounded out three more scoring drives to take charge of the game.
Albarado said the game was won by the play of the Tiger offensive and defensive lines.
"The difference in the game was 16 inches of pad level," Albarado said. By this he meant the Tiger linemen were playing too upright in the first half, and the Prescott players were able to control them.
"The defensive line in the second half, that was the difference. They were making some tackles and putting pressure on the quarterback," Albarado said.
That pressure resulted in three quarterback sacks in the fourth quarter.
Tommy Wells and Ryan Komorouski led the Tigers in defensive points. Emerson and David Koch also scored in double figures on the defensive point chart.
The offensive line began opening up holes and the versatile Tiger backfield was able to consistently churn out yards. In the final three scoring drives of the second half, the Tigers averaged 10 yards per carry.
With Emerson at wingback, Tommy Wells at fullback, Danny Wells at halfback and Garret Fletch at quarterback, the Tigers have a backfield than can be one of the most productive in the conference.
"With the powers of the Wells boys and the speed of Fletch and Emerson, it's a pretty good complement," Albarado said.
The Tigers finished with 352 yards rushing in the game, led by Danny Wells with 155.
After the win, the Tigers held a brief celebration, because this was the final regular season home game for this year's seniors. But the celebration was low key and respectful.
"It was a great victory, but we had bigger things on our minds," Albarado said. "It wa a solemn victory."
New Richmond 35, Prescott 21
Prescott 14 7 0 0 21
New Richmond 0 6 13 16 35
P -- Ryan Ptacek, 35 yard pass from Ryan Kariesch (Jake Charette kick)
P -- Nick Schommer, 19 yard run (Charette kick)
NR -- Danny Wells, 3 yard run (kick failed)
P -- Schommer, 30 yard run (Charette kick)
NR -- Scott Emerson, 60 yard pass from Garret Fletch (pass failed)
NR -- Tommy Wells, 21 yard run (Emerson kick)
NR -- D.Wells, 18 yard run (Emerson pass from Fletch)
NR -- D.Wells, 9 yard run (Fletch run)
First Downs 17 10
Rushing Yards 352 204
Passing Yards 63 64
Passes 2-4-0 int. 6-10-0 int.
Penalties 3-30 8-50
NR -- Danny Wells 26-155; Tommy Wells 13-97; Scott Emerson 12-77; Garret Fletch 6-22; Mike Martinez 1-1
NR -- Garret Fletch 2-4-0 int., 63 yards
NR -- Scott Emerson 1-60; Danny Wells 1-3
PLAN TO LEAVE EARLY FOR SOMERSET
New Richmond fans heading to Thursday's football game in Somerset should plan to leave early.
A large traffic tie-up is expected in downtown Somerset because there is only one road open to traffic heading toward the Somerset schools. The Depot Street access to the schools is closed because of construction on Cloutier Drive. The only access from within the village to schools is through Spring Street to Sunrise Drive.
Somerset school officials are suggesting drivers may want to take a back route. One suggestion is to drive to County Highway I south of Somerset and take it to the schools.
The Somerset SADD Chapter is holding a chili dinner at Somerset High School from 4:30-6:30 p.m. for those who want to leave early for the game.