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Altena’s big game powers Tigers past Panthers

New Richmond running back Sam Altena picks up his feet to avoid the tackle attempt of Ellsworth lineman Michael Koch Friday at Ellsworth. (Photo by Sean Scallon)1 / 2
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Sam Altena is a tough running back to bring down, and when the tackling is not at its best, he’s almost impossible to get dirty.

“We knew going in that we were going to have to rely on our running game since the weather wasn’t going to be good,” New Richmond coach Keith Badger said. “Jake Singerhouse was a little dinged up, so we went to Sam and he was more than ready for the workload. He was a workhorse and got the ball 27 times. We rushed a total of 52 times in the game, which is double what we normally would.”

On Friday night, Altena and New Richmond ran all over Ellsworth for a 32-12 Middle Border Conference victory at Fuller-Symes Field, securing a playoff bid for the Tigers at 4-1 in the MBC, 5-2 overall.

“As the season goes on, we are going to see more and more adverse conditions come game time, so getting this kind of a game in right now is good for us to get used to that and be successful despite the conditions,” Badger said.

The Panthers were the first to get on the board, with 5:19 remaining in the first quarter, when quarterback Emery Whalen plunged in from a yard out, capping an opening drive that was marked by solid running from Jordan Close. However a bad snap on the extra point scuttled the kick, a bad omen of things to come when it came to problems on special teams for the Panthers.

“On their first drive Ellsworth was able to take the ball and go right down the field to score on us without much resistance,” Badger said. “We had expected more production from our defense than that out of the gate, but we made some adjustments and that one touchdown became their only one on offense for the whole game.”

Cameron Hausman would give New Richmond a 7-6 lead when his point after connected after Altena’s first touchdown, a 15-yard run with 2:56 to go in the opening quarter, on the Tigers’ opening drive.

The Tigers connected on a 22-yard scoring pass in the second quarter when quarterback Brady Maus reversed his field of vision from the far sidelines and threw to a wide open Jake Singerhouse in the flat for a 22-yard strike with 2:56 to play in the first half. The play came on fourth-and-eight to put the Tigers up 14-6.

“We had just 10 passing plays in the whole game, which is down considerably for us; normally we would be much more balanced,” Badger said. “But we went in knowing that we were going to run the ball more than normal and that plan worked really well.”

Ellsworth had a chance to tie the game before halftime, but an interception in the end zone stopped the Panther scoring drive.

Altena’s second score would come at 3:24 of the third quarter on a 4-yard run. This was set-up by a blocked punt that put New Richmond right at midfield to start the drive.

Hausman then connected on 34-yard field goal with seconds remaining in the quarter, taking advantage of the gusting, 30 mph winds from the northwest.

“That was a really solid kick from Cameron considering the conditions we were playing in all night,” Badger said.

A safety would push the Tigers’ lead to 25-7 early in the fourth quarter and on the Tigers next drive Altena would then take it in from 37 yards out to give New Richmond a 25-point lead.

Eric McGregor provided a spark for the Panthers with 5:55 to play with an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, his second in back-toback games, but it was too little, too late.

The Tigers completed just three passes all game, on nine attempts, for 50 yards, a touchdown and one interception. By the end of the game, Altena was nine yards shy of a 200-yard rushing game after carrying the ball 27 times for three touchdowns.

This Friday, New Richmond heads to Amery, and despite the Warriors’ poor record, Badger is expecting a tough matchup.

“Every conference game is a big game, no matter what the records of both teams are,” Badger said. “Anything can happen in any given conference game. Amery spreads the ball out a lot more than we are used to seeing, so that will be something different for us to adjust to on defense.”

Following the Amery game, the Tigers finish out the season at home against Osceola on Oct. 17.