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Defense raises concerns as Somerset football rolls pats B-W 54-26

The Somerset football team has a chance to avenge its only loss of the 2012 season, while keeping its Middle Border Conference championship hopes alive, when the Spartans host Durand this Friday.

The Spartans enter Friday’s game with a 5-1 record and a 7-1 overall mark. Durand is also 5-1 in the MBC. The Spartans were winners last Friday, but defensive concerns arose in the Spartans 54-26 win at Baldwin-Woodville. The 26 points allowed is the most points allowed in a win since the Spartans’ 35-33 win over Big Foot in the 2012 state championship game.

This Friday’s game carries a great deal of importance for the Spartans. If the Spartans win and Prescott upsets Ellsworth, the Spartans can still win a share of the conference title. A win Friday would almost assuredly lock up a home game for the Spartans in the opening round of the WIAA state football playoffs. A loss would hurt the Spartans’ seeding options and it could cost them that opening round home game.

The team’s performance on defense is raising concern among the Spartan coaches.

“It’s the time of year, it’s when teams that play great defense keep playing,” said Somerset coach Bruce Larson. “We’ve got to get refocused on defense and play better.”

The coaches were concerned by the defense’s lack of pursuit to the ball and the big plays the defense has given up in the last two games against the bottom two teams in the conference.

Baldwin-Woodville actually led 13-12 midway through the second quarter last Friday. That’s when Larson called a timeout and sent a strong message that the team needed to improve its play.

The Spartans scored twice late in the second quarter to lead 28-13, but the adventures weren’t over. The Spartans fumbled on the first play of the second half.  B-W quarterback Brody Peterson scrambled for a touchdown moments later. The lead stood at 28-19.

A minute later, the Spartans were back on the scoreboard. Dallas Johnson took a pitch and raced 76 yards down the Spartan sideline for a touchdown. A timely block from Brody Penman allowed Johnson to turn the corner.

The Spartans got a big break on the ensuing kickoff when B-W failed to cover the kick. Somerset recovered at the Blackhawk 26. The Spartans tacked on a quick score to lead comfortably at 42-19.

While the Spartan defense wasn’t sharp, the Somerset offense showed its best diversity of the season. Three Spartans rushed for more than 100 yards as the offense generated 531 yards of total offense. It was a big night for Spartan halfbacks Dallas Johnson and Bailey White. They both got six carries and both went over the 100-yard barrier. Johnson finished with 121 yards and three touchdowns. White totaled 101 yards and one touchdown.

“We finally got the ball outside with some consistency,” Larson said. “The halfbacks had a huge night.”

The Spartans had a splendid inside-outside mix. Fullback Max Praschak went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 122 yards on Friday. He now has 1,065 yards this 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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