This week, the Somerset football team did it better.
When the Spartans hosted Prescott on Friday, they faced an almost identical game plan to what they saw the previous Friday in a 14-12 loss to Osceola. This time, the Spartans showed much sharper execution on both sides of the ball in a 40-7 win over Prescott.
The win was the first for the Spartans in Middle Border Conference action this season. The Spartans will play at Ellsworth next Friday.
“We need to win three of four games to get in the playoffs, so every game for us is a must-win game,” said Somerset coach Bruce Larson. “We don’t have a lot of wiggle room.”
The main concern in facing Ellsworth is sophomore Max Grand, who is one of the leading rushers in the conference and has the speed to break away on any carry.
The Spartans will head to Ellsworth in a positive frame of mind after their vastly improved showing against Prescott. The Spartans ran the ball well all night Friday, with an excellent balance between the inside and outside running attack.
Larson said that success was started by quarterback Ryan Kelly effectively reading his pitch key. With Prescott’s defensive ends trying to hide their intentions, it took the Spartans a few plays to figure out the keys. Once they did, the Spartans weren’t stopped the rest of the night.
The first Spartan score came in the first quarter. Halfback Tate Pitcher had runs of 23 and 61 yards to move the ball into scoring position, with senior fullback Beaudee Smith scoring from four yards out.
By the second quarter, the Spartans had a full grasp on Prescott’s defensive plans. The Spartans marked down the field, with Smith and Pitcher both having good runs on the drive. Kelly finished the drive with a 12-yard keeper for the touchdown.
With two minutes left in the first half, Kelly struck again. He followed good blocking at the point of attack, breaking free on a 75-yard touchdown that gave Somerset a 24-0 lead heading into halftime.
The second half started with a 63-yard drive by the Spartans. Halfback Caleb Melvin did most of the damage in this drive. His 26-yard run got the Spartans in scoring range, then he finished the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.
Later in the third quarter, the Spartans drove 56 yards for their final score. Smith and Pitcher both had runs that generated first downs, then Pitcher finished the drive by taking a 15-yard pitch to the flag.
The junior varsity players got to play the fourth quarter for the Spartans.
Larson said the improved play this week started with the play of the linemen. And that begins with senior Bailey Mullenberg.
“Bailey is quietly having a really nice year. Bailey is a really solid offensive lineman,” Larson said.
Young linemen are starting to make more of an impact too. Sophomore Cole Kelly was an explosive interior pass rusher on defense. Sophomore Corey Rose got the start at center and the Spartans didn’t have any bad snaps or turnovers. With the improved play by the offensive line, Larson said Kelly had more time to make his reads.
Larson said the Spartans moved to the ball defensively much better in this game, with Riley McGurran being one of the players who Prescott had difficulty blocking. It was an effort, on both sides of the ball, the Spartan coaches hope to see again.
“I thought we played with some guts and emotion. I think some of our young guys are starting to figure it out,” Larson said.