New Richmond football expects more of the same in playoff second round
The second straight Mississippi Valley Conference opponent awaits the New Richmond football team in the second round of the WIAA Division 3 playoffs this Friday.
The Tigers will host Sparta Friday, Oct. 26 after coming off a wild 20-14 win over La Crosse Logan, while Sparta achieved one of the biggest upsets in the first round of the state playoffs when it went to Ashland and sunk the Oredockers, 36-8, on Friday.
New Richmond is the third seed in the Division 3 bracket and the Tigers had their hands full with La Crosse Logan, the sixth seed. Sparta is the seventh seed and Sparta and Logan are quite similar teams. When they played during the third week of the season, Logan beat Sparta 30-29, though Sparta led for much of the game.
New Richmond coach Reggie Larson said Sparta is similar to Logan in offensive style too. Logan was a pass-first team. Sparta uses more of an even mix between the run and pass, with a big tailback and several quality receivers. Quarterback Cole Wisniewski is a dual threat, with at least 90 rushing yards in each of the past three games.
Larson said Sparta is a legitimate threat, with wins over the top two teams in the Mississippi Valley: La Crosse Central and Holmen.
New Richmond has now won six straight games. After the 0-4 start to the season, making the playoffs seemed like a stretch, much less earning two home playoff games.
The Tiger defense played marvelously for much of Friday's game, holding La Crosse Logan to negative yardage through the first half of the game.
"We played base defense and the kids were flying around like their hair was on fire," Larson said.
It looked like this game might be a runaway when the New Richmond offense scored on a 58-yard drive midway through the first half. Talon Seckora capped the scoring drive with a 16-yard run.
But from there until the fourth quarter, neither offense could accomplish anything. The Tiger offense became indecisive, hardly moving the ball until the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter the Tigers finally got the offense moving in the right direction, with runs by Joe Powers fueling most of the 73-yard drive. A 17-yard touchdown run by Powers put the Tigers ahead 14-0 with 9:50 left in the game. That was just the start of a tense fourth quarter.
Logan passed the ball quickly downfield. Then Tiger linebacker Payton Pohl stepped in front of an intended receiver and raced 87 yards with the interception. His touchdown gave the Tigers a 20-0 lead with 7:53 left.
Logan kept up the passing, getting a 39-yard touchdown with 5:12 left. The Tigers had to punt on the next possession and Logan again passed the ball down the field, scoring with 1:35 left to cut the margin to 20-14.
The Tigers couldn't quite run out the clock. With 10 seconds left, Logan tried to block Cole Effertz's punt. He got the kick away and it rolled down the field as the clock expired.
Larson said the biggest objective for the week is to clean up the inconsistencies of the offense.
"Offensively it's the same thing we've been battling. It's things we do right all week in practice," he said.