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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One of the most difficult weeks of the season for the St. Croix Central volleyball team ended with a gigantic dose of good news. The Panthers suffered a pair of difficult losses in Dunn-St. Croix Conference action last week. That led into Sunday's WIAA regional seeding meeting. Panther coach Amanda Webb went into the meeting hoping to stake a claim to the second seed in the regional.
The magic number is one for the St. Croix Central football team. The Panthers need one more win this season to lock up a place in the 2006 WIAA State Football Playoffs and they are targeting this Friday's Homecoming game as their time to get it done. The Panthers will be hosting Spring Valley in Friday's Homecoming game at 7 p.m. Last Friday the Panthers kept their share of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference lead by blanking Mondovi 27-0. The Panthers played a lively game on offense, with the no-huddle offense breathing vitality into the team.
The Somerset football winning streak in the Middle Border Conference that has lasted since 2003 is no more. The Spartans were plagued by mistakes, especially early in the game, resulting in a 32-26 loss at Ellsworth last Friday. This does not ruin Somerset's hopes for a fourth straight Middle Border title. The Spartans have three games remaining, against Prescott, Amery and Osceola. If the Spartans win all three games, they will again be conference champions. "We still control our own destiny," said Somerset coach Bruce Larson, the architect of the winning streak.
This was the Durand team that coaches feared when they made the Panthers one of the favorites to win the Middle Border Conference in pre-season polls. The New Richmond football team went to Durand last Friday in hopes of getting their MBC record back to .500. Instead, the Panthers devastated the Tigers, rolling to a 46-6 win. The Tigers now need to win their final three games of the season if they hope to lock up a place in the 2006 WIAA state playoffs. That won't be an easy assignment, starting with this Friday. On Friday the Tigers will be playing at Osceola, the conference leader.
Coaches use analogies that no one player is as strong as a team's combined abilities. Right now, the Somerset volleyball team is a living model of that statement. The Spartans continue to play outstanding team ball, and it has carried them into a share of the Middle Border Conference lead. Last Thursday the Spartans faced Ellsworth, the only team that had not lost in MBC play. Somerset convincingly delivered Ellsworth's first loss, setting back the Panthers 25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 25-18. Somerset, Ellsworth and Osceola are all tied at the top of the MBC with 4-1 records.
A change in the alignment of the serve receive helped the New Richmond volleyball team put together one of its best weeks of the season last week. Last Thursday the New Richmond volleyball team earned its first win in the Middle Border Conference this season, sweeping Baldwin-Woodville in three games. The Tigers followed that up with a prolonged run of solid play on Saturday, where they reached the championship game in the Shell Lake Invitational. The win over Baldwin-Woodville came in front of a Parents Night crowd for the Tigers and they gave the fans a show worth remembering.
The New Richmond girls tennis team again showed how far it has grown this season, nearly taking the team championship in the 2006 Middle Border Conference Tournament played last Tuesday. The Tigers earned conference championships at one doubles and three doubles and New Richmond finished second in the team standings, one point behind Osceola. "This was supposed to be a young, inexperienced team," said Tiger coach Teresa Kvam. "I was more than pleased with their play." Seniors Steph Anderson and Molly O'Flanagan were the top seed at one doubles and they played like it.
It was a day of discovery for the St. Croix Central cross country team last Tuesday. The Panthers discovered that they are much more of a force than most people, including themselves, may have thought at the beginning of the season. This comes after the Central boys won the championship in the 2006 Ellsworth Invitational and the Panther girls took third place at Ellsworth. "That was a great win," said first year Central coach Bill Emery. "The team is starting to see its great potential.
The New Richmond boys soccer team continues to be nearly unbeatable on their home field. On Monday the Tigers swarmed all over Rice Lake, beating the Warriors 4-1. Last Tuesday the Tigers scored another key home field win, beating Hayward 4-2. The only loss of the week for the Tigers came last Thursday, when they were beaten at Cumberland 4-1. It took the Tigers a couple minutes to get rolling in Monday's win, but once the Tigers found their legs, they controlled most of the action in the game. The Tigers scored early in the first half.
The wins, and the injuries, continue to mount for the Somerset football team. The Spartans climbed to 3-0 in the Middle Border Conference on Friday, holding off two late charges from Durand to score a 22-18 win in Somerset's Homecoming game. Twice in Friday's fourth quarter it looked like Durand was driving for the go-ahead score, but each time Somerset's defense came up with a big play to end the threat. Early in the fourth quarter Durand went on a long drive, taking up more than six minutes with their runs behind an unbalanced line that was like a moving wall of blockers.