Bruce Larson, who guided the Somerset High School football team to six state championship game appearances and three state titles in 22 seasons as Spartan head coach, died Sunday, Feb. 27, at the age of 58.
A Spring Valley native and UW-River Falls Hall of Fame football player from 1983-86, Larson began his tenure at Somerset as an assistant to Brad Nemec in 1987 before being promoted to head coach in 1999. He also taught physical education and previously coached girls basketball (1987-88) and wrestling (1988-89) at Somerset.
Under Larson’s guidance, the Spartan football team grew into a powerhouse in the Middle Border Conference and reached the state championship game six times, winning three Division 4 state titles in 2002, 2012 and 2014.
Larson was inducted into the UWRF Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2014 he was named the Wisconsin Coach of the Year and in 2015 he was named the Don Shula NFL National Coach of the Year. He was posthumously inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame this past April.
Larson’s two sons– Rocky and Reggie– also played football at UWRF and followed their father’s footsteps into coaching. Reggie Larson has been the head coach at New Richmond High School since 2018 while Rocky Larson completed his third season as head coach at Mayville State University in North Dakota last fall.
On the Friday night following Larson’s death, March 4, high schools and colleges across the state, and even Lambeau Field in Green Bay, lit up their football fields at 7 p.m., typically football game time, in his honor and posted their tributes along with the hashtag #LIGHTUPFORLARS.