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Through the air and on the ground, Ladysmith lays the lumber to Spartans

Somerset's dreams of winning a second straight WIAA State Football Championship were trampled when the Spartans played at Ladysmith on Saturday.

In level 3 of the WIAA Division 5 state playoffs, Ladysmith was able to run through Somerset's defense and pass over the Spartan defense. Ladysmith delivered a crushing 41-6 setback to the Spartans.

Somerset had beaten Ladysmith 35-16 last year in level 3 of state playoffs. Ladysmith will now face Brillion in the WIAA Division 5 state semifinals this weekend. Poynette and Kenosha St. Joseph will meet in the other Division 5 state semifinal.

Somerset finishes the 2003 season with a 10-2 record.

It was the Spartans who scored first in Saturday's game at Ladysmith. The Spartans took the opening kickoff and drove down the field in four plays. The 55-yard drive was completed when quarterback Jake Rorabeck found tight end Tadd Landry open over the middle. They combined a 34-yard score that gave the Spartans a 6-0 lead.

It became clear quickly that Somerset's score did not shake Ladysmith's confidence. Ladysmith needed just more than three minutes to drive back down the field, led by bruising running back Mike Newkirk and an extremely effective passing attack. The Lumberjacks scored on a 1-yard run by Newkirk to take a 7-6 lead.

For the rest of the game, Somerset's offense would have sporadic success, but was never able to sustain a drive.

While Newkirk is the best-known part of the Ladysmith team, he wasn't the most important factor for the Lumberjacks on Saturday. Somerset's defensive secondary has struggled in recent games, and the Lumberjacks abused the Spartan defensive backs. Ladysmith's next four touchdowns all came on passes from quarterback Reed Thompson to wide receiver Eric Taylor. Taylor finished the game with eight catches for 251 yards.

The Spartans struggled to mount any pass rush during the game. In the second quarter the Spartans got sacks on consecutive plays from Justin Neumann and Brock Schreiner. But on the next play, Taylor caught a 24-yard score on fourth down against double coverage.

Ladysmith held a 22-6 lead at halftime. Midway through the third quarter, Taylor caught an 85-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to make the socre 28-6.

From there, Newkirk became the Ladysmith offense. He had every carry in the third quarter for the Lumberjacks, and nearly all the carries in the fourth quarter. The Lumberjacks finished the game with a 9-minute drive, with Newkirk scoring the final touchdown with :04 left in the game.

When the playoffs were first announced, it was anticipated that this would be a showcase of two of the leading rushers in the state, Newkirk and Somerset fullback Tom Hennessey. Hennessey sprained an ankle in Somerset's first playoff game and didn't play at all in the win over Cadott. Hennessey didn't practice again until last Friday, but the Spartan coaches decided to have him start Saturday's game. Hennessey did not have his usual explosiveness, being limited to 30 yards on nine carries. He reinjured the ankle in the third quarter and was sidelined the rest of the game.

Newkirk finished the game with 169 yards on 33 carries.

Ladysmith 41, Somerset 6

Ladysmith 7 15 13 6 41

Somerset 6 0 0 0 6


Som -- Tadd Landry, 34 yard pass from Jake Rorabeck (run failed)

L -- Mike Newkirk, 1 yard run (Zachary Schmidt kick)

L -- Eric Taylor, 24 yard pass from Reed Thompson (Schmidt kick)

L -- Taylor, 36 yard pass from Thompson (Justin Sieg from Thompson)

L -- Taylor, 85 yard pass from Thompson (kick failed)

L -- Taylor, 35 yard pass from Thompson (Schmidt kick)

L -- Newkirk, 1 yard run (kick failed)

Som Lady

First Downs 8 12

Rushing Yards 133 174

Passing Yards 68 273

Passes 2-6-0 int. 10-15-0 int.

Penalties 1-5 3-20


Som -- Jake rorabek 15-45; Shawn Walczak 5-36, Tom Hennessey 9-30, Brett Schreiner 2-10, Jeff Klis 5-6, John Anderson 2-6


Som -- Jake Rorabeck 2-5-0 int., 68 yards; Shawn Walczak 0-1-0


Som -- Tadd Landry 1-34; Mike Schachtner 1-34

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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