“Anyone can beat anyone on a given day,” may be a worn out sports cliché. When it comes to Middle Border conference football this cliché may be right on. Just two weeks into the conference race just two teams, the St. Croix Central Panthers and the Baldwin-Woodville Blackhawks, remain unbeaten in MBC play. It may happen but it will be very difficult for either team to run the table in conference play and claim the title without a loss.
With every game being critical, the Osceola Chieftains welcomed the Somerset Spartans to Robert W. Vesperman athletic complex last Friday to see which team would even their record at 1-1 with a win. The loser would drop to 0-2 and be looking up at the conference leaders. In a game that was not decided until the final whistle Osceola outlasted Somerset by a 14-12 score. The Chieftains are now bunched with three other teams, one game behind the MBC co-leaders.
“It was a tough physical game,” Osceola coach Scott Newton said. “We knew it would be and we had to stay within what our strengths are as a team.”
Osceola was determined to run the ball behind their talented offensive line and Somerset was equally determined to slow down the Chieftain infantry. In the end Osceola had just enough offense to put up a pair of rushing touchdowns and got a pair of PATs by Nick Carlson to amass 14 points. Somerset also hit pay dirt twice, both time via the pass but were unsuccessful on both PAT attempts on the ground.
The first score of the game came late in the first quarter when Osceola quarterback Aaron Schmidt took the ball up the middle and scored from 11 yards out. With the Carlson PAT, the Chieftains were up 7-0 with 1:15 remaining in the initial period. The Osceola drive consisted of 10 rushes and one pass, covering a total of 64 yards.
Somerset got on the board for the first time on their opening drive of the second half. On a fourth-and-five on the Osceola 28-yard line the Spartans went the distance on a running back pass from Tate Pitcher to Henry Dedinger. The Chieftains pushed back the Spartan PAT to remain on top at 7-6.
Osceola upped their lead to 14-6 with time winding down in the fourth quarter. Nick Carlson blasted in from a yard away on fourth down. Logan Johnson set up a short Chieftain drive with a 30 yard punt return.
Somerset got the ball back with just 3:50 to play and managed the clock well. The Spartans went 57 yards in seven plays to cut the Osceola lead to 14-12 with the all-important PAT attempt remaining. Somerset attempted to sweep their right side to tie the game but Matt Germain had other ideas as he came up from his linebacker spot to knock the would-be attempt out of bounds two yards short of the pay window.
“I told everyone that if we stopped them we’d win,” Germain said before the conversion attempt. “All of us just had to believe that we could do it because as a team we are capable to do anything as long as we believe and trust one another.”
Osceola got the ball back after an unsuccessful on-side kick-off attempt by Somerset and had a pair of kneel-downs to end the game.
“Defensively our boys were aggressive and played fast,” Newton noted. “We talk about keeping our heads up and always looking forward to the next play. When Somerset scored, our defense did a great job of keeping their heads up and stopping their two-point conversation plays.”
Carlson was busy toting the pigskin for Osceola gaining 77 yards on 23 attempts. Schmidt added 54 yards on a dozen carries. The Chieftains managed just 148 total yards for the game while the Spartans collected 181.
“We travel to Baldwin-Woodville on Friday,” Newton said. “BW just beat New Richmond, so we are in for a heck of a challenge.”