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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The New Richmond, Somerset and St. Croix Central teams will all be playing in next Monday's WIAA sectional tournaments. New Richmond advanced in Division 1, while Somerset and St. Croix Central moved forward in Division 2. This all happened in regional tournaments played on Wednesday.
In the Middle Border Conference losses suffered against Prescott and Ellsworth last week, the Somerset volleyball team found it needs to go on the defensive. Somerset coach Sarah Praschak said she believes most of the pieces are in place for the Spartans to take off. She said the one aspect that held the team back in both matches last week was defensive errors. In each of the losses, the Spartans committed 20 defensive errors.
The New Richmond girls tennis team is the Middle Border Conference champion for the third season in a row. The Tigers earned the conference championship by winning six of the seven flights at the MBC tournament played Tuesday at Osceola High School. This, combined withe the Tigers' undefeated MBC dual schedule, gives them the outright conference title.
Somerset's football team ran 84 offensive plays on Friday, compared to 22 for New Richmond. Time of possession is a key measurement in Somerset's ball control offense. But controlling the clock isn't necessarily winning the game. Despite the positive steps the Spartans took on Friday, they gave up several big plays that allowed New Richmond to take a 34-16 win. The loss drops Somerset to 0-6 for the season.
The New Richmond football team didn't have the ball often on Friday, Sept. 22. But whenever the Tigers had the ball, big things happened. The Tigers only ran 22 offensive plays on Friday, but they still managed to roll up 34 points in a 34-16 victory at Somerset. Quarterback Mikah Kier scored on runs of 49 and 70 yards and Blake Kretovics returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown in the final seconds of the first half. Kretovics' touchdown was the turning point of the game, giving the Tigers a lead they would never give up.
The New Richmond and St. Croix Central football teams kept their success rolling on Friday night. New Richmond went to Somerset and scored a 34-16 win over Somerset. St. Croix Central locked up a place in the WIAA football playoffs with a 43-8 homefield win against Amery. The New Richmond-Somerset game turned into a battle of conflicting styles. Somerset put together some impressive time-consuming drives. But the Spartans just couldn't prevent the big plays that carried New Richmond to victory.
Looking more like a complete team every week, the St. Croix Central football team thoroughly outplayed the rival from Baldwin-Woodville on Friday. The Panthers gained more than 450 yards of offense and shackled the Blackhawk attack as Central rolled to a 40-7 win at St. Croix Central High School.
Progress is starting to show, but the Somerset boys soccer team wasn't able to turn that progress into wins in any of their three games last week. The Spartans suffered losses to Baldwin-Woodville, Cumberland and Washburn, dropping their season record to 1-10. The week started with last Tuesday's game at Baldwin. The young Spartans got overwhelmed by the improved Blackhawks, losing 5-0. Somerset coach Bill Roll was impressed with the Blackhawks, who tied Amery 2-2 later last week.
Some races are more about the learning done along the way than the final results. That was the case for the Somerset cross-country team Sept. 12 at the Rice Lake Invitational. The Spartan boys placed 19th among 25 teams in the varsity race, but found that they have the potential to be a much more competitive team for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, the Spartan girls ran without their top two runners and found they still need to bring their best energy level to every race.
With the WIAA girls golf sectional tournaments in the area scheduled for next Wednesday, the local teams are looking to put together some momentum that will carry them to tournament success. The New Richmond, St. Croix Central and Somerset girls played in a pair of Middle Border Conference matches last week. The conference tournament was scheduled to be played this Tuesday. There was also a match scheduled for this Monday, but it was washed away by rain. As of late Monday, a decision hadn't been made on whether that round would be made up.