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Panthers' late push nets win

For three quarters, the defense carried the St. Croix Central football team during last Friday's Homecoming game against Spring Valley.

In the fourth quarter the Panther offense rose to the defense's level. The offense was able to push across two fourth quarter touchdowns, while the defense completed its shutout in a 13-0 win over Spring Valley.

Central's record now stands at 3-2 and the Panthers are 2-1 in Dunn-St. Croix Conference play. This Friday the Panthers will play their final non-conference game, heading north to face a winless Grantsburg team.

The Panther defense should feast against the winless Pirate team. They did so against a Spring Valley team that has talent at the skill positions. Cardinal quarterback Tyler Bosshart was rushed and crushed by the Panther defense on Friday. He ran the ball 29 times, gaining a total of 68 yards.

"I liked our physicality," Central coach Tony DiSalvo said of the team's defensive performance. "It's probably one of the best games our defense has played."

Leading the defense was senior linebacker Brian Poulin. Since the move where Poulin is playing only on defense, he's been a ferocious leader of the Central defense group.

The Panthers are hoping they can use the Grantsburg game as a springboard into a strong run of success in October. After Grantsburg the Panthers have conference games left with Glenwood City, Boyceville and Elk Mound. The Panthers need to win two of those conference games to assure themselves a place in the 2008 WIAA state playoffs. A 3-3 finish would not put the Panthers automatically into the playoffs.

If the Panthers hope to get into the playoffs, the offensive will need to improve upon its performance against Spring Valley. DiSalvo said there were several areas where the offense struggled on Friday. He said the passing game wasn't at its usual level and the running attack behind the speed side of the offensive line needs to be better.

"Offensively we've got to pick up the pace," DiSalvo said.

In the fourth quarter the Panthers were finally able to get some offensive continuity established. Halfback Brian Aldworth scored his first varsity touchdown on a 16-yard sweep early in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers were able to add an insurance touchdown when senior Zach Gillis scored on a 3-yard run.

Gillis finished the game with 64 yards rushing to lead the team.

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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