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Football: Time is running out on Spartans

Somerset running back Jack Peterson (24) is gang tackled by Prescott's defense in the Spartans' 25-12 home loss Friday night. Tom Lindfors / RiverTown Multimedia

If the Somerset football team still plans on reaching the WIAA playoffs, it needs to start winning. And to continue winning.

The Spartans' hopes of reaching the state playoffs took a big hit last Friday when the Spartans lost on their home field to Prescott, 25-12. Prescott was one of the two teams Somerset defeated in 2016.

Somerset needs to win four of its final five games to be assured of a place in the WIAA tournament field. The Spartans play this Friday at Ellsworth. The Panthers like to throw the ball and that will prove a challenge for the Somerset defense that has struggled to stop any opponent this season. Opponents are averaging 44 points per game against the Spartans this season.

Somerset's defense played three good quarters against Prescott on Friday. But the second quarter would qualify as a disaster, with Prescott scoring all 25 of its points during the quarter. Prescott opened the quarter with a scoring drive. The rest of the points came on big plays, including runs of 72 and 74 yards and a 50-yard pass play.

The second quarter collapse left the Spartan coaches stunned. Somerset's defense had gotten good stops on Prescott's first three possessions, before all the scoring happened.

Offensively, the Spartans saw Friday what they are likely to see the rest of the season. Prescott stacked its defense to limit the running of junior fullback Jack Peterson. He finished with 60 yards rushing, his lowest total of the season.

"We worked all week to get the ball outside," said Somerset coach Bruce Larson. "Every time we got outside, we either blocked in the back or held."

Penalties continue to carry huge implications for the Spartans. They were flagged eight times for 65 yards on Friday, while Prescott was called three times for 25 yards. The coaches are frustrated because the Spartans continue to commit the same penalties that they've been called for all season.

"Our lack of football sense is glaringly apparent," Larson said.

The Spartans aren't known for passing the ball, but the passing game produced both of the team's touchdowns Friday. Quarterback Will Piletich connected to Garret Hecht for a 19-yard score in the second quarter. Quarterback Bennett Baillargeon passed 35 yards to Preston Kern in the fourth quarter for the only score of the second half.

There were a couple bright spots in the team's kick returns. Justin Rivard had a kick return to the Prescott 14 and Brett Vetterkind had a return to the Prescott 20. The Spartans scored after Vetterkind's return, but they weren't able to score after Rivard's return.

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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