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Somerset football team set to battle for MBC lead

Somerset fullback Max Praschak (29) uses a wall of blockers to turn upfield during the Spartans' 30-0 win over Prescott on Friday.

In 2011, the Prescott football team snapped Somerset's homefield victory streak that had lasted more than a decade.

Prescott made its first visit to Seibel Field since the 2011 game on Friday night. The Spartans made sure they didn't put their current homefield victory string in jeopardy. The Somerset defense limited Prescott to 175 total yards of offense in shutting out the Cardinals 30-0.

Prescott came into the game with the clear intention of shutting down Somerset's interior running game. There were times Prescott was playing nine defenders between the tackles. That sort of commitment to the middle of the field left the Cards thin on the flanks and the Spartans took advantage. The Spartans produced touchdowns of 69, 49 and 85 yards during the game.

Somerset coach Bruce Larson said his quarterbacks did a nice job of reading when Prescott's defense was packing the middle of the field, leaving the perimeter available.

"It's a patience thing. Eventually you'll hit two or three monsters," Larson said.

Larson credited his interior linemen with much stronger play in this game. Prescott's defense was set to attack the inside gaps in the Spartan line. With the Spartan line handling that pressure, Somerset was still able to earn the tough yardage it needed between the tackles.

What hurt Somerset's offense most was penalties. The Spartans were flagged 10 times for 80 yards. The penalties were costly, including nullifying a 50-yard touchdown run from Mitchell Foster.

"The penalties have to stop," Larson said. "That needs to be a one-time thing."

Somerset's first touchdown was the result of catching Prescott stuffing the middle. Dallas Johnson took a pitch and raced down the Prescott sideline to give the Spartans a 6-0 lead with 2:13 left in the first quarter.

A turnover set up Somerset's second score. Prescott tried a number of quick passes to their wide receivers that were close to being backward passes. One of those was incomplete. The officials didn't blow the whistle, meaning the pass was a lateral. Spartan defensive end Tyler Lueck picked up the ball and returned it 25 yards to the Prescott 18. Quarterback Adam Marty scrambled 15 yards on the final play of the first quarter and fullback Max Praschak bulled into the end zone on the opening play of the second quarter.

The Spartans were able to drive 59 yards in the final minutes of the quarter to build the lead to 18-0. The drive featured pounding runs from Praschak and quarterback Reed Baillargeon. Praschak capped the drive with a 7-yard run with 54 seconds left in the half.

Somerset's pass rush was a factor all night. Prescott came into the game with the intent to pass, but quarterback Alex Helmer was harassed all night by the Spartan defensive ends and linebackers. Gaelin Elmore, Dalton Johnston, Praschak and Baillargeon led the raucous pass rush, which recorded several sacks.

The final two Spartan touchdowns were fourth quarter big plays. The first was Praschak's 49-yard run, where he used a prolonged block from receiver Heaven Hunt to break free. The final score was by Marty, who kept the ball on a run around left end and found no defenders in his way on an 85-yard run.

The assignments just continue to get tougher for the Spartans. This Friday, the Spartans will play at undefeated Ellsworth. The Panthers are stocked with a large senior class, with many players who are in their third season on the varsity squad.

"You'll have to beat Ellsworth, they don't beat themselves," Larson said, who said Panther coach Clair Austin always has his team well prepared. Ellsworth has allowed 15 points in its four games, while scoring 116 points. Somerset has outscored its 2013 opponents 102-34. The winner of Friday's game will be alone at the top of the Middle Border Conference standings.

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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