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Somerset looks to bounce back in Homecoming game after suffering first loss

For four weeks, the Somerset football team piqued everyone’s hopes.

How good can the Spartans be? On Friday, the Spartans were clearly not as good as Ellsworth. The Spartans were outplayed in every facet of the game in losing the battle for the Middle Border Conference lead, 27-8.

The loss was the first for the defending state champion Spartans since they were defeated in Week 7 of the 2012 season by Durand, 16-13.

It has been a truly rare occasion over the past decade to have a game where the Spartans were clearly outplayed, but that was the case on Friday. Ellsworth gained 337 yards against Somerset’s usually stingy defense. The Somerset offense was held to 137 yards on the ground, one of the lowest totals of the past decade. The Spartans nearly had as many yards through the air, gaining 90 yards and their only touchdown on four completions.

Somerset coach Bruce Larson was seething after the loss.

“We got it handed to us in every phase of the game,” Larson said. “We got out-physicalled. We got pushed around.”

Larson said this game wasn’t lost on Friday night. He said it was lost every day between January and July in the weight room.

“We pretended like we were working hard,” Larson said. “It’s my job to fix it and it will get fixed.”

Ellsworth set the tone for the game on the opening drive. The Panthers drove the length of the field before missing a field goal attempt.

Somerset’s offense looked inept early in the game, fumbling the ball away on its first two possessions. Ellsworth turned the second of those chances into a touchdown, on a 20-yard pass play where two Spartans missed tackles. Missing tackles was one of the few things the Spartans did consistently in the game.

Ellsworth took a 13-0 lead when Panther quarterback Emery Whalen was able to scramble up the center of the field for a 49-yard touchdown, breaking two tackles along the way.

Somerset notched its only touchdown with 3:56 left in the first half. The Spartans got the ball at the Ellsworth 45 on an interception return by Jon Sullivan. Moments later, quarterback Reed Baillargeon saw Heaven Hunt streaking down the left hashmark, hitting him with a 42-yard scoring pass.

Ellsworth did all the scoring in the second half, on runs of 5 and 32 yards.

The Spartans had new starters at 21 of 22 positions at the beginning of this season. If the team was looking for a measuring stick of its progress, Coach Larson said this game provided it.

“Our inadequacies are starting to be highlighted,” Larson said. “We’ll see what we’re made of now. I don’t know how we’ll respond. It will be interesting.”

To add to the Spartans’ incentive this week, they will be playing their annual Homecoming game. And the opponent in the game will be the Spartans’ biggest rival, New Richmond. The game will be played at 7 p.m. on Friday at Somerset’s Seibel Field.

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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