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Somerset football 2-0, plays Osceola at St. Croix Falls this Friday

Somerset football coach Bruce Larson diagrams a play during a timeout in the Spartan's season-opening game against Bloomer.

The opponents the Somerset football team faced in its two non-conference games have a tradition of success.

That's why the Spartans put them on their schedule.

The Spartans improved to 2-0 with a 20-6 win at Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau on Friday. The Spartans will begin their Middle Border Conference schedule this Friday by facing Osceola. Osceola's new artificial turf field is not ready for use, so the Chieftains have chosen to play Friday's game at St. Croix Falls.

G-E-T provided an excellent challenge for the Spartans on Friday. The score was tied 6-6 at halftime. The Spartans were able to pull ahead on touchdowns from fullback Max Praschak in the third and fourth quarter. Praschak did the majority of the Spartans' offensive work, carrying the ball 36 times for 203 yards. The rest of the team carried the ball 21 times for 72 yards.

As you might imagine, Somerset coach Bruce Larson is looking for more balanced offensive production. Somerset's halfbacks only got three carries in Friday's game and they've only been able to complete one pass in two games.

The Spartans are starting five new offensive linemen this season. Larson said the offense will expand as the line progresses. He said the passing game struggled at G-E-T because the line was having difficulty blocking.

"The offense is behind. It'll take some time for the offense to gel the way it needs to." Larson said.

As the offense expands, it will continue to rely heavily on Praschak, who continues the tradition of Spartan fullbacks who have received the majority of carries through the years.

The Spartans will also continue to expect top performances from their defense. G-E-T is expected to have a potent offense this season, but it was limited to 172 total yards in Friday's game.

The Spartan coaches were much more pleased with the performance of the special teams in Friday's game. This was an area that did not grade out well in the team's season opener against Bloomer.

G-E-T scored first in Friday's game, with 2:22 left in the second quarter. The Spartans answered with a quick drive that included a long run from Praschak. Praschak scored with 14 seconds left in the first half to tie the game at 6-6.

In the second half the Spartans were able to use time-consuming drives to build a lead. Praschak added his second and third touchdowns of the night, with his scores coming midway through each of the final two quarters.

G-E-T has the best winning percentage in the Coulee Conference over the past 10 years, winning 71 percent of its games. Bloomer holds the same honor in the Heart O'North Conference. Larson said that quality is why the Spartans schedules those opponents, because he can rely on them to give the Spartans a challenge in the pre-season every season.

Osceola also started the season with a 2-0 mark, scoring wins over St. Croix Falls and Hayward. The Chieftains have dealt with some early season injuries, but were predicted by several coaches as one of the favorites in the conference.

"They'll be tougher than hell," Larson said bluntly. "I think they feel it's their year."

For Spartan fans who don't get enough of the team on Friday nights, you might want to head south on Saturdays. The UW-River Falls football team is well stocked with Somerset graduates. There is the possibility that six former Spartans could be starting for the Falcons during the 2013 college football season.

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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