It was only the first Middle Border conference football game of the season but it is hard to believe that there will be a better one than there was last week at Robert W. Vesperman athletic complex in Osceola. The New Richmond Tigers came to town to challenge the Chieftains and left with a 35-21 win in an offensive battle.
“Our boys played their butts off,” Osceola coach Scott Newton said. “I was very happy with our overall team effort. We had some execution errors against a very athletic team but if we continue to practice and play with the same effort we gave (last) Friday night, we will continue to improve.”
Each team found their offense in a different way. Osceola pounded the ball with a punishing ground game amassing 300 yards rushing and averaged 6.7 yards per carry. New Richmond also had an effective ground game but their diverse attack featured a stellar passing attack. Quarterback Tim Salmon completed 14 of 18 passes good for 304 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was Joey Kidder who collected eight passes for 188 yards and a pair of TDs.
New Richmond scored on each of their first two possessions. The Chieftain defense had the Tigers at third down and 10 or more yards to go three times in their opening possession but could not come up with the big play to get off the field. New Richmond’s first touchdown was on a 38-yard Salmon pass to Joe Powers. Their second score was via a 3-yard blast by Cooper Strand.
When New Richmond scored the Chieftains responded. Osceola’s first touchdown drive was seven rushes for 77 yards capped off by a Nick Carlson 1-yard run. Carlson set up his score with a 64 yard carry behind a solid offensive line that opened a huge hole for him. The second Chieftain touchdown was another 1-yard score by Carlson. This drive was 11 plays covering 62 yards, all on the ground. The big gain of the series was a 28 yard run by Matt Germain on a counter-play.
The game was tied at 14 points going into the second half. Osceola got the ball to start the second half but after gaining 36 yards their drive fizzled. New Richmond took the lead, this time on a 66 yard Salmon to Kidder connection. Again the Chieftains rallied to tie the game. Osceola covered 67 yards on seven rushes to knot the score at 21 when Carlson scored for the third time from a yard out. Logan Johnson had the big gain of the drive weaving behind effective blocking for a 51 yard gain.
“The success we had running the ball can be attributed to the hard work and diligence of the front five and the time the coaches put in preparing us for the game,” Carlson said. “Our front five was getting a great push off the ball which allowed our running backs to go north and south and get yards. We worked hard all week knowing that we could run the ball effectively on Friday night.”
Osceola had their best defensive stand of the game on the ensuing New Richmond possession. After a Tiger first down on their initial play of the drive the Chieftains held New Richmond without a yard on their next three plays. The Tigers were forced to punt with Osceola hoping to turn the game in their favor with their next drive. Then disaster struck. The Chieftains muffed the punt with New Richmond recovering the ball just three yards from pay dirt. Instead of possessing the ball Osceola gave up the go-ahead touchdown on the next play on a 3-yard Salmon to Kidder pass.
After tying the score the first three times they fell behind, Osceola could not do so for a fourth time. New Richmond got an insurance touchdown with 8:33 to play on an 18-yard run by Powers.
Carlson ended the game with 134 yards on 25 carries and scored three touchdowns. He also kicked all three Chieftain PATs. Johnson amassed 71 yards on five carries with Germain netting 61 yards on nine totes. Aaron Schmidt gained 34 yards on six attempts.
This week Osceola will be engaged in the annual homecoming festivities. The Chieftains will host Somerset on Sept. 13 with both teams looking to notch their first MBC win. “Somerset will be a very physical game,” Newton said. “They have great team speed. We need to make plays in the open field.”