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Somerset football won't make third straight trip to WIAA state finals

A shaky first half was simply too much for the Somerset football team to overcome in its quest to return to the WIAA state championship game for the third straight year.

The Spartans made an empassioned comeback after trailing Winneconne 9-0 at halftime. The Spartans came back, briefly taking a 14-9 lead with 8:10 left in the fourth quarter.

The Spartans had difficulty stopping Winneconne's passing game throughout the game. Winneconne quickly worked the ball downfield, scoring on a 27-yard touchdown pass to take a 16-14 lead. Winneconne made that lead stand up, winning to advance to next Thursday's Division 4 state championship game at 7 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Somerset was hoping to be one of the rare Wisconsin high school teams that has reached three straight state championship games after winning the state championship in 2012 and finishing second in 2011.

The Spartans put themselves in a bad situation several times in the first half and were fortunate to only trail 9-0 at half. On the second play of the game, Somerset tried a pass. Quarterback Adam Marty fumbled before he could release the pass and Winneconne recovered at the Somerset 30. Winneconne drove to the Spartan 3, but the Spartans got the stop. The Somerset offense went nowhere on its next possession and was forced to punt.

Winneconne broke through to block the punt. Several Wolves players had chances to recover the ball, but Somerset's Austin Harty hustled to cover the ball in the end zone. This resulted in a safety instead of a Winneconne touchdown.

Winneconne drove 61 yards early in the second quarter for the first touchdown of the game. A 42-yard pass play set up the 6-yard touchdown.

Somerset looked like a completely different team in the second half. The Spartans spent most of the third quarter on a 94-yard drive, led by quarterback Reed Baillargeon. Fullback Max Praschak scored with 1:43 left in the quarter and Dallas Johnston's two-point conversion cut the lead to 9-8.

Somerset scored again on its next possession, driving 52 yards. Baillargeon scored from 2 yards out, using excellent second effort, to give Somerset the 14-9 lead.

The Spartans finish the season with an 11-2 record.

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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