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Overtime again: Somerset wins Division 4 state championship

The heartbreak of Somerset's double-overtime state championship loss last year was swept away when the Spartans defeated Big Foot 35-33 to win the Division 4 state championship at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Thursday.

This game was also an overtime decision. Somerset got the ball first in the overtime, with battering ram fullback Vern Breault covering the first 20 yards of the drive. The final five yards were covered by quarterback Tyler Ledbeter, who scored his third touchdown of the night.

Last year, the Spartans couldn't get the two-point conversion on their overtime score, which ultimately decided the game. This year, Ledbeter pitched the ball to halfback Bobby LeRoy, who went untouched around left end for the two points.

Big Foot then got its chance and state Player of the Year Mason Dixon quickly converted, scoring on a 19-yard touchdown. Big Foot then elected to try a pass play for the two-point try. The pass to the edge of the end zone glanced off the receiver's hands, locking up the second football state championship in Somerset history. The Spartans were also state champions in 2002.

Ledbeter and Breault led the Spartans in game that was packed with drama. Ledbeter was battling illness, so severe that there were doubts about whether he could play in the second half. For much of the second half and the overtime, the Spartans didn't have Ledbeter playing defense, letting him conserve his energy.

Ledbeter came up with big play after big play in the game. He scored on touchdown runs of 46 and 51 yards in the first half. The second of those touchdowns may have been the most spectacular of his career, a weaving effort where he broke several tackles and made several sharp cuts.

Ledbeter also made two fumble recoveries, both with immense importance. On the first play of the overtime, Breault fumbled, but Ledbeter dove in to cover the ball. Ledbeter also produced the only turnover of the game. Somerset defensive end Reggie Larson sacked Big Foot quarterback Carter Hehr, forcing a fumble. Ledbeter recovered at the Big Foot 9-yard line, setting up a Breault touchdown that gave Somerset a 27-20 lead.

Somerset was able to control the clock in the game, using the running of Breault and Ledbeter to run extended drives. Breault carried the ball 42 times, gaining 205 yards. Ledbeter finished the game with 159 yards rushing on 15 carries. Dixon led Big Foot with 166 yards rushing on 24 carries.

Ironically, in both seasons where Somerset won its state championship, it did not win its conference. The same can be said for the other St. Croix County state champion. Glenwood City, which won the Division 7 championship game over Potosi 46-21, tied for second place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.

A reception is being planned for the Spartans when they return to Somerset. Details will be posted here when announced, or call Somerset High School at 715-247-3355 for more information.

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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