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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When the Somerset football team stood at 0-3, most fans lost hope that the Spartans would be able to repeat as Middle Border Conference champions. But the Spartans kept the faith. Since that 0-3 start the Spartans have reeled off five straight wins. And this Thursday the Spartans will be playing for the conference championship. The Spartans, now 5-3, will play at home on Thursday against undefeated Baldwin-Woodville.
The New Richmond varsity football team plays its most meaningful game since 2002 when the Tigers play at Amery on Thursday. If the Tigers win at Amery, they will qualify for the WIAA State Football Playoffs for the first time since that year. The Tigers moved into position to get in the playoffs by winning at Ellsworth last Friday by a 34-20 score. The win at Ellsworth is the third of the season for the Tigers, raising the team's Middle Border Conference record to 3-3.
Having one of their senior leaders sidelined couldn't hold back the New Richmond girls cross country team. The Tiger girls repeated as Middle Border Conference champions, finishing 12 points ahead of Ellsworth for the 2008 girls title. New Richmond's boys also came through with one of their finest performances of the season to take second place in last Thursday's boys conference meet. The Tiger girls were running without senior Hannah Utzman. Utzman and classmate McKenzie Kelly have been the leaders of Tigers since their freshman year.
The New Richmond boys soccer team has gotten better every year since it became a varsity program. The Tigers reached new heights this season by winning their first conference championship. The Tigers clinched the 2008 Northwest Wisconsin Boys Soccer Conference last Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Hayward. On Thursday the Tigers completed conference play with a 2-0 win over Spooner. This gives the Tigers an 11-1 final record in conference play. The win over Hayward was one of the best performances of the season by the Tigers.
The St. Croix Central boys team earned the first conference cross country championship in school history when the Panther boys ran away with the 2008 Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship last Thursday. Central's girls nearly made it a sweep of the titles. They finished second in the girls race during the meet that was held at Boyceville last Thursday. The Panther boys left no doubt that they would win the conference title. By the 200-yard mark the Panthers' top five runners were like a blue wave across the front of the pack.
The St. Croix Central football team has already locked up a place in the 2008 WIAA State Football Playoff that begin next Tuesday. That doesn't mean the Panthers don't have anything to play for when they host Elk Mound in the regular season finale for both teams this Thursday. Central and Elk Mound are tied for second place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings. So the winner of Thursday's game will be the outright holder of second place in the final conference standings. The Panthers are coming off a 36-0 win over Boyceville that guaranteed them a place in the state playoffs.
The New Richmond volleyball team was one of two teams that were upset in the opening round of the Middle Border Conference Volleyball Tournament at Baldwin-Woodville High School on Saturday. That difficult start put the Tigers in a tough position and they ended up taking sixth place among the eight teams in the tournament. New Richmond was seeded fourth in the tournament, but the Tigers were beaten by Somerset in the opening round of the tournament, 25-17, 17-25, 15-6.
Last winter the Somerset School District was selected to be part of a national project on autism. Somerset's involvement in the autism project recently got underway. Two people from the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders and one consultant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) spent several days meeting with Somerset school staff members. Darren Kern, Director of Pupil Services for the School District, is leading the project.
The first goal of the season for the Somerset football team has been accomplished. The Spartans locked up a place in the 2008 WIAA state football playoffs with their 44-22 win in New Richmond last Thursday. There are several more goals within reach for the Spartans, including a Middle Border Conference championship. The Spartans will need to win their final two regular season games to achieve that goal. The first of those games comes this Friday, when the Spartans face Amery. That will be followed by a game against MBC leader Baldwin-Woodville on Thursday, Oct. 23.
Wins in the final two games of the season will put the New Richmond football team into the 2008 WIAA state football playoffs. The first of those games comes this Friday, when the Tigers play at Ellsworth. Ellsworth is winless this season. The Panthers have an excellent quarterback in Josh Miska, who set a Middle Border Conference passing record against the Tigers last season.