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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There have been teams that have been able to compete with the Somerset football team through the first half this season. But no team has been able to last with the Spartans for an entire game. The Spartans completed an undefeated regular season on Thursday by winning at Baldwin-Woodville 48-28. The Spartans are now 9-0 and they finish the season with a spotless 7-0 record in the Middle Border Conference for 2007. Baldwin-Woodville was able to outscore the Spartans in the first half of Thursday's game, 20-16. The Spartans have made a living this season off their halftime adjustments.
The New Richmond volleyball team put the large crowd of Tiger fans through an emotional wringer in the opening round of WIAA Division 2 regionals last Tuesday. But in the end, the crowd was filled with jubilation. The Tigers rallied to defeat Amery in five games in the regional opener. This was the first win in four years for the Tigers in WIAA playoff action. The Tigers' playoff run was ended in the second round last Friday.
The New Richmond boys soccer team was knocked out of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs last Thursday. In the process the Tigers again proved they can play evenly with the top programs in western Wisconsin. The Tigers and Chippewa Falls were locked into a taut, fast-paced battle in the opening round of WIAA tournaments. The game was played on the artificial turf at Chippewa Falls, so the steady rain didn't slow down the quickness that is one of the strongest traits of both teams. The first half of the game ended scoreless. The first 25 minutes of the second half went by without a score.
Mistakes were as prevalent as mud for the New Richmond football team in the Tigers' season-ending 10-0 loss to Amery at the New Richmond High School football field last Thursday. With the loss the Tigers finish the season with a 1-8 record. Amery ends its season with a 3-6 mark for the 2007 season. After a week of nearly steady rain, the New Richmond field, like most in western Wisconsin, was soaked past the saturation point. While the water-logged field slowed the speed of the action down, the players held onto the ball.
The 2007 season didn't turn out the way the St. Croix Central football team had hoped. By winning two of their final three games, the Panthers were able to put a positive finish on their season. The Panthers ended the season last Thursday, winning on their wet and muddy home field, 14-0 over Boyceville. The Panthers end the season with a 2-7 record. Two weeks earlier they defeated Grantsburg for their first win of the season.
The New Richmond defense took away Ellsworth's running game and its short-range passing game. So Ellsworth beat the Tigers the only way they could, by throwing deep. Ellsworth scored five touchdowns, all via the pass, in defeating the Tigers 38-13 last Thursday. The Tigers will finish their 2007 season this Thursday at home, in their Senior Night game. Amery will be the opponent in Thursday's game. Both teams currently possess 1-5 records in the Middle Border Conference. In last Thursday's game against Ellsworth, the Tigers were right with the Panthers for much of the game.
The New Richmond girls cross country team ran to a Middle Border Conference championship last Thursday, a crowning achievement in a season of steady improvement. New Richmond's boys weren't quite as successful. The Tiger boys were hoping to become the first MBC boys team to ever win four straight conference championships. They weren't able to reach that goal, taking third place in the conference championships that were held on the East Elementary School course in New Richmond. There was some consolation for the Tiger boys.
The Somerset football team has made the top spot in the Middle Border Conference their hangout. So when the Spartans were knocked off the top of the heap in the MBC last year, they immediately focused on returning to the role of supremacy in the MBC. The Spartans have reclaimed the title of "King of the Hill" in the MBC. The Spartans locked up the 2007 MBC championship last Thursday with a 26-14 win at Amery.
Eau Claire North is one of the elite boys soccer programs in western Wisconsin, if not all of the state. So when the New Richmond boys played at North on Saturday, it was one of the biggest games for the Tigers since they became a varsity program three years ago. The Tigers performed about as ideally as possible.
The second place finish by the Somerset volleyball team in Saturday's Middle Border Conference tournament was enough to move the Spartans up to second place in the final MBC standings. Because this was the first MBC tournament, there was a fair amount of uncertainty to how important the tournament would be. But when the seventh seed in the tournament, Ellsworth, knocked off second-seeded Prescott in the opening round, a number of opportunities suddenly opened up for teams. Somerset was one of the teams that took advantage of the opportunity.