St. Croix Central Panthers

The St. Croix Central and Somerset football teams both went into Friday’s game needing some good things to happen after both squads started Middle Border Conference play with 0-2 records.

The big difference in Friday’s game at Somerset was the Panthers were able to complete their best scoring chances, while the Spartans were not. That resulted in Central coming away with a 27-0 victory.

Both teams have struggled offensively this season. Central began to find cracks in the Somerset defense by getting the ball to the outside, which Central coach John Tackmann said was one of the goals for the game. Led by halfbacks Kyle Trainor and Eli Ponath, the Panthers stretched the Somerset defense. That created seams where the Panthers could also strike inside.

Senior Jayden Goodwin scored on an 11-yard off tackle play to give the Panthers the lead three minutes into the game.

Somerset answered with a drive deep into Panther territory, but the drive died at the Panther 20. Somerset moved the ball well between the 20s, but couldn’t find ways to complete the drives.

Central extended the lead to 14-0 when Trainor scored from three yards out with 45 seconds left in the first half.

It was the Panther defense that produced the next touchdown. Defensive end Devin Wasley sacked Spartan quarterback Rory Hoff. The ball squirted from Hoff’s grasp and Goodwin scooped up the ball and raced for the third quarter touchdown.

Central quarterback Ethan Boettcher ran four a touchdown with 7:41 left in the game to complete the scoring.

Tackmann said the Panthers had numerous players in new or different roles because of numerous injuries on the team. Two of them were Ponath and Simon Herink. Ponath hasn’t taken a defensive rep all season and Herink had never played on varsity before. Tackmann said AJ Holmgren, who played every snap of the game at fullback and linebacker, was another player who stepped up in a big way.

For Somerset,the inability to complete drives is becoming more glaring. The Spartans have totalled six points over the past three games.

“We moved the ball between the 20s,” said Somerset coach Bruce Larson. He said Central took away Somerset’s ability to run between the tackles, which is why the Spartans only had 76 yards rushing in the game. The Spartans were more effective through the air, with quarterback Rory Hoff connecting on 12 of 20 passes for 142 yards. Larson said the Spartans just missed connecting on a couple deep passes that would have put points on the board.

One area where the Spartans showed improvement was in the pass rush. The Spartans produced consistent pressure and several quarterback sacks.

St. Croix Central will be at home next Friday, hosting Amery in the Panthers’ Breast Cancer Awareness game. Somerset will be on the road, playing at winless Viroqua. This is the Spartans’ crossover game, with every MBC team facing one team from the Coulee Conference this season and it will count in the MBC standings.

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