A three-hour drive to Viroqua was exactly what the Somerset football team needed.
The Spartans got off the bus and played with energy and inspiration in grinding down Viroqua, 52-6. Viroqua is a member of the Coulee Conference. The Middle Border Conference and the Coulee have an agreement this season to play one crossover game that will count in their conference standings. This counts as Somerset’s first win in the MBC. The Spartans are 2-3 overall. They aim for their second conference win next Friday when they play at Amery.
From the start on Friday, the Spartans solved the Viroqua offense. The Spartans simply charged forward and tackled every possible Viroqua ball carrier before they vacated the backfield. Viroqua had 77 yards of total offense in the game, with most of that coming against the Spartan reserves in the fourth quarter.
Somerset coach Bruce Larson said the Spartan coaches spotted several “tells” in the Viroqua offense, so the Spartans had a good idea where most of the plays were headed before the ball was snapped. Combine that with the Spartans driving the Viroqua blockers backward on nearly every play, and it short-circuited anything Viroqua was trying to accomplish.
The Spartan linemen were just as dominant on offense. Larson said Somerset’s blockers excelled at maintaining their blocks longer. That allowed Somerset’s backs more time to hit the holes or to make decisions on cutbacks. Quarterback Rory Hoff kept the ball on many of the early possessions, with steady success. He finished the game with 120 yards rushing on 15 carries and he ran for Somerset’s first three offensive touchdowns.
By the end of the first quarter, Somerset had already built a 22-0 lead. Hoff scored twice in the quarter and Spartan linebacker Gabe Allen scooped up a fumble on a bad pitchout and ran 20 yards for the third Somerset score.
The Spartans were also able to pass effectively. Hoff completed four of five passes for 103 yards and the Spartans also had a 90-yard touchdown pass called back due to a penalty. Andy Rojas caught three of the passes for 72 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter that elevated Somerset’s lead to 38-0 in the second quarter.
The Spartans scored on the opening possession of the second half on a nice 45-yard cutback run by halfback Jack Casey. The Spartan reserves played the rest of the game.
The reserves tacked on the final score. Ethan Waskul read a pass play to the flat and cut in front of the receiver, returning the interception 80 yards for the game’s final touchdown.
Larson said Spartans were improved in every facet of the game. While Viroqua is winless, Viroqua was ahead of Altoona at halftime on the previous Friday. Altoona is 5-1 and is close to locking up a place in the WIAA playoffs
The Spartans hope to build on this win as they keep their faint playoff hopes alive. Amery lost to St. Croix Central on Friday, ending any hopes Amery has of reaching the playoffs this season.