And then there was one.
Somerset will be the only western Wisconsin team playing in the WIAA State Football Championships this Thursday and Friday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Somerset earned its spot in the Division 4 state championship game by beating Bloomer last Friday, 18-13 in the state semifinals.
Menomonie, Clayton and Eau Claire Regis were area teams that had a shot to reach the state finals, but they were all defeated in the semifinals.
Other than Somerset, the closest team is Greenwood-Granton, which is located between Eau Claire and Marshfield. The Greenwood-Granton team beat Clayton on Saturday, 34-26.
Menomonie lost a gut-wrenching Division 2 battle to two-time defending state champion Waunakee by a 21-19 score. Menomonie was hurt severely by an excessive celebration penalty after a 95-yard touchdown. Watch for that call to be the center of discussions in WIAA rules interpretations meetings in the off-season. It seemed evident that game officials were trying to be noticed in some of the playoff games. Somerset’s bench was called for a penalty on Friday when an assistant coach entered the coaching box to yell out instructions between plays. This is supposed to be allowable, but the sideline official clearly didn’t want his authority questioned. The Spartans elected to not argue, moving everyone back several yards on the sideline.
Regis, after barely squeezing past Hurley two weeks earlier, ran out of magic against Shiocton. Regis lost the game 28-0. Shiocton now faces a massive assignment in the Division 6 title game, facing a potent opponent in undefeated St. Mary’s Springs of Fond du Lac.
That leaves Somerset to carry the pride of western Wisconsin to the state championships. That our area is so far away from Madison may weigh in the Spartans’ favor.
Somerset will face Wrightstown in the Division 4 state championship game at 7 p.m. on Thursday. Wrightstown is undefeated and has been ranked among the top teams in Division 4 all season.
Wrightstown is from the Green Bay area and their team has received considerable publicity all around the state, while Somerset has barely been a blip on the state football radar this season. With all the attention that Wrightstown has received, you have to wonder if their players aren’t feeling a little confident in their chances on Thursday.
Wrightstown is a power offense team. The Tigers frequently run out of a two-tight end formation and try to blast their way through opponents. No team has been able to blast through Somerset’s defense with any extended success. Somerset carries a high level of confidence that its complicated defense can stop any opponent. Since their one-game debacle early in the season against Prescott, no opponent has scored more than 15 points against the Spartans.
The wild card in this game may be Somerset’s offense. Wrightstown’s defense has given up more than 20 points five times this season. If the Spartans can pick up yardage between the tackles consistently, it would set up the big plays the Spartans have been creating on the perimeter.
Wrightstown has relied on being able to outscore any opponent this season. The Tigers may not have met a defense as good as Somerset’s, so this is looking like a matchup that could do right down to the final seconds, just like Somerset’s win on Friday against Bloomer.
And then there was one.