Joe Hutter

Somerset assistant coach Joe Hutter hugs senior Luke Praschak (30) after the Spartans won the state championship in 2012. Hutter was named Spartan head coach last week in the wake of legendary coach Bruce Larson’s sudden death in February. Star-Observer file photo

The Somerset football program views itself as a family.

The Spartans dealt with the death of Coach Bruce Larson in February by coming together as a family.

They will keep the coaching responsibilities within the family. Long-time defensive coordinator Joe Hutter has been promoted to take on the head coaching role for the Spartans.

Hutter came to Somerset in 2008. He previously had coached on the New Richmond football staff from 2001-2007, with the final four seasons there as head coach.

Hutter is a 1994 graduate of Spring Valley High School, which Larson also attended. Hutter attended Winona State University, where he played football and coached for one year after completing his eligibility.

Somerset athletic director Trent Probst said there were a number of applicants for the coaching position, several with varsity coaching experience. Several went through the interview process, including Hutter.

“Joe and Bruce worked so closely together. There couldn’t be a better choice,” Probst said of the hiring of Hutter.

Hutter said he’s been fortunate to learn under three Hall of Fame coaches in Somerset in Larson, Bob Seibel and Tony DiSalvo, plus his coaches at Winona State.

When Larson died suddenly on February 27, the Somerset football players and coaches did what they did every day. They met as a team in the high school weight room. Hutter said this was done to give the kids a sense of continuity and to have a team to lean on in their time of grief.

“We all talked about being a family,” Hutter said of the team meeting.

Hutter said the kids have been anxious to get back to work and plan for the 2022 season. He doesn’t plan any drastic changes in the team’s schemes. He said the Spartans installed new offensive and defensive schemes last year and they will work to continue their progress with both of them.

Larson was one of the oldest varsity football coaches in Western Wisconsin when he died. Probst and Hutter said there had been conversations about planning for Larson’s retirement, but both said they wanted Larson to coach as long as he wanted the job. Larson led the Spartans to the state championship game six times, winning state titles in 2002, 2012 and 2014.

“It is an honor to be in this position, to build on what is here and build for the future,” Hutter said of his promotion.

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