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A deserved win for the Spartans

Fullback Jack Peterson (right) has been the constant in the Somerset offense this season. He's shown in action in the recent game against New Richmond. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

Somerset football coach Bruce Larson has built many strong relationships with his teams through his highly successful run as the Spartans' coach.

This season hasn't been successful in the win column, but Larson has recognized the effort delivered by the Spartans throughout the season. And that effort was finally rewarded last Friday. The Spartans went to Amery and thoroughly dominated the Warriors, 36-0, for Somerset's first win of the season after opening with six defeats.

"This is a good group of kids," said Larson. "It was good to see them get a win because they've continued to work hard. We have a group of kids who believe implicitly with something, fighting for something. It gives you a little more confidence in the future of society."

The Spartans were tested immediately in Friday's game. Amery tried a deep pass and it bounded off the shoulder pads of the Warrior receiver, only to land in the hands of another Amery player for a 40-yard gain. The Spartans stopped that threat and then the offense went to work.

Somerset fullback Jack Peterson already reached the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season in the Spartans' previous game against New Richmond. In Friday's game, he added 240 more yards to his total. Sixty-three of those yards came on the fifth play of Somerset's first drive. Peterson used a couple key blocks at the left edge of the line and broke away for a 63-yard touchdown.

That was the only score of the first quarter, but the Spartans took control of game with a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter. The first capped a lengthy drive, with Peterson scoring from one yard out.

The second touchdown of the quarter came after a leaping interception by Spartan defensive back Justin Rivard, the first of two Amery passes he pilfered in the quarter. It set up a gem by Peterson, who broke three tackles, cutting against the grain to race down a jubilant Somerset sideline for an 82-yard score that raised the Spartans' lead to 22-0.

While Peterson has made a few big plays, most of his yards have come on gritty running between the tackles.

"He's been a constant all year. We can pound it at you. That's our strength right now," Larson said.

The Spartans scored a touchdown in each quarter of the second half. In the third quarter, quarterback Bennett Baillargeon lofted a pass to Rivard as he raced down the sideline for a 22-yard touchdown.

The final touchdown came on a three-yard keeper by junior quarterback Will Piletich in the fourth quarter.

Coach Larson said the younger players are also contributing more at this stage of the season. Lineman Brady Wall was injured and unable to play on Friday. Cole Erickson and Bailey Mullenberg stepped into his positions, as did Henry Thurber.

The Spartans finished the game with 396 yards of offense, with 374 coming on the ground. Over the past two games, the Spartans have rushed for 777 yards.

The defense also put on its best performance of the season, especially against the pass. Amery opened the game by hitting four of six passes. With tighter coverage and more pressure on the quarterback, Somerset's defense completely shut down the Warrior attack. Amery's quarterback ended the game 7-23 passing.

The shutout is the first for the Spartans since Sept. 18, 2015, when Somerset defeated Prescott 27-0.

This Friday, the Spartans will face another team that has already been virtually eliminated from the playoff picture when they play at Baldwin-Woodville. B-W is coming off a 35-14 win over Prescott. Larson said the Spartans need to approach B-W the same way they did Amery.

"We'll need to hammer away and prevent big plays from them. If we play good defense again, that would be great," he said.

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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