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Football: Tigers get chance at MBC title

Sophomore running back Cooper Strand broke into the open for good yardage on this carry in the Tigers' 42-0 win over Amery last Friday. Photo by Eric Andre

A chance to win a share of the 2017 Middle Border Conference championship is there for the taking for the New Richmond football team.

All they have to do is beat undefeated Osceola and snap the Chieftains' 18-game MBC winning streak.

Okay, nobody said it would be easy. But conference championships aren't supposed to come easy.

The Tigers are 5-1 in the MBC and 6-1 overall, after thumping winless Amery 42-0 last Friday.

Friday's game is doubly important for the Tigers. Not only would a win earn them a share of the MBC championship, it would greatly enhance their chances to draw a higher seed in the WIAA playoff seeding. The Tigers are likely going to end up in Division 3 in the playoffs and the seeding for the Division 3 bracket will be held on Saturday. The first round of the playoffs will be held next weekend.

The importance of Friday's game at Osceola has New Richmond coach Keith Badger bordering on ecstatic to play the game.

"It's perfect timing to prepare for such a high quality opponent, knowing you are going to see nothing but high quality teams ahead of you," Badger said.

The coaches are hoping the importance of Friday's game brings out the best in the Tigers.

"We've been searching for the perfect game," Badger said. "We have moments of playing really well. We're still searching for the total complete game."

Last Friday's game wasn't perfect, but against a winless Amery team the Tigers had little resistance in getting things done. The wet, sloppy field proved to be more of challenge, but at this time of the season, the coaches are reinforcing the fact that the weather could be a factor in every game.

"It's better to be prepared for the playoffs. As the season goes on, the weather is only going to get worse," Badger said.

The best thing about Friday's game in Badger's view was the fact that the coaches got every player on the sideline into the game for significant game time.

"It was a feel good game," Badger said.

This may be one of the most one-sided statistical games for the Tigers in recent years. The Tigers rolled up 381 yards offense while the Tiger defense kept Amery from doing any major damage.

The offense was led by the combination of senior running backs Noah Towberman and Blake Kretovics. Both went over the 100-yard mark as the Tigers finished with 303 yards on the ground.

Kretovics and quarterback Mikah Kier both rushed for two touchdowns. Towberman and senior running back Zach Brandt both reached the goal line once in Friday's win.

With the reserves getting extended playing time, several younger players distinguished themselves on defense. One was lineman Jacob Crowson who was the team's defensive points leader with three solo tackles, five assisted tackles and three tackles for loss. Badger said Matt Wilcox was another of the defensive players who made an impact in Friday's game.

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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