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Somerset football continues to do more things right

What the Somerset football coaches are looking for right now is progress.

They saw plenty of it when the Spartans went to Amery and posted a 42-14 win over the Warriors.

The win secures the Spartans a place in the 2013 WIAA state playoffs. The Spartans are in a three-way tie for second place in the Middle Border Conference standings, one game behind undefeated Ellsworth.

Friday’s game was the second of three straight where the Spartans face teams in the bottom half of the conference. It was viewed as a chance for the Spartans to build some momentum and they’ve done that, scoring 44 and 42 points in the past two games. In four of their past five games the Spartans have scored 30 points or more.

The win at Amery had nearly all the staples of a signature Somerset win, other than the defense giving up two long plays. The offense was able to control the ball, with a good mix of pounding the ball between the tackles and breaking plays to the outside. The defense shined. Outside of the two big plays that resulted in Amery’s touchdowns, Amery had almost no successful ball movement.

Somerset even got big contributions from the special teams, particularly on punt returns. The Spartans had three punt returns that covered more than 20 yards, including a 55-yarder that set up the Spartans’ third touchdown of the first half.

Somerset coach Bruce Larson said one of the reasons for the team’s upturn on offense is the play of quarterback Adam Marty. Marty rushed for 115 yards and passed for 61 more. He scored the Spartans’ first touchdown on a nice run that he took outside when he met resistance in the middle of the line.

“I thought Adam played his best game,” Larson said. “He’s running with confidence.”

The Spartans were able to score 42 points at Amery despite having five starters missing with injuries. The Spartans have relied on the “next man up” axiom and that was most apparent on the offensive line, where two starters were sidelined. Seth Hunt moved in at guard and Henry Francis and both performed well. Larson said it may be hard to get Hunt out of the starting lineup if he continues to play as well as he did at Amery.

Another key to the upswing for the Spartans is the return of Brody Penman from injury. Penman can fill in for Max Praschak at fullback and he’s an outstanding lead blocker from the halfback position. He also gives stability to the defense.

One of the trademarks for the Spartans is controlling the clock with time-consuming drives on offense. They had several of those at Amery. Even the Spartan second team got in on the act, driving the length of the field to eat up the final six minutes of the game.

Praschak led the Spartans with 153 yards rushing on 36 carries. The one pass completion for the Spartans was a gem. Marty found Jon Sullivan on a crossing pattern near midfield. Sullivan took off, using a crushing block from Gaelin Elmore downfield, to go 61 yards for the touchdown.

The Spartans have now completed seven games. In each of the past two seasons, the Spartans played 14 games as they made their way to the state championship affair. Coach Larson said this is typically when his teams have begun making their surge toward playoff readiness and he said he’s seeing signs of it happening again.

“The last couple weeks of practice have been really good,” Larson said.

The Spartans will be back on the road this Friday, playing at Baldwin-Woodville. The Blackhawks are in last place in the MBC with an 0-5 record. They are 1-6 overall.

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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