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Game time is nigh: No. 2 Somerset vs. No. 4 Ellsworth

The Ellsworth High School football team is psyched up to play Somerset.

If one looked ahead on the schedule one knew there was a possibility Ellsworth and Somerset would meet on this date and on this night, Homecoming for EHS, both undefated.

Ellsworth running back Brandon VanderMarliere says Ellsworth has their chance to play in the big game tonight at Fuller-Symes Field starting at 7 p.m. largely because the team never thought that far ahead.

"We've kept our foucus knowing that every game is just that, the next game to prepare for and eventually play," VanderMarliere said. "Next week's game at Baldwin-Woodville will be just as important and we'll treat it the same way."

That being said Ellsworth players are excited to be a part of a big-on-big match up against the No. 2 ranked, undefeated and defending state champion Spartans.

"More than anything we just want to play," VanderMarliere said. "Everyone's excited and pumped to play this game and we can't wait to hit the field."

The Panthers get to take in the "big game" with unblemished record and No. 4 state ranking in Division 4. They've done so with a lot of hard work to get better at the game and get stronger. For the first time since EHS's last win over the Spartans in 2006, Ellsworth matches Somerset in both speed and physcial play.

"We know we're as fast as they are, maybe faster, and we know we can hit just as hard as they can and we intend to do so." VanderMarlier said.

The Spartans will have the size advantage, especially with Division I prospect like Minnesota bound tight end Galien Elmore (6-5, 236) along with lineman Seth Hunt (5-8, 280) and Cole Martinsen (6-0, 188). Fullback Max Praschak tore through Prescott's defense last week with big play touchdowns while both he and split end Adam Marty rushed for over 100 yards. Junior Reed Bailllargeon is handing the quarterback duties well in his first year starting varsity and the Spartans are plenty deep in the backfield with players like split end Dallas Johnson and big fullback Luke Johnson (6-1, 200).

Even so Ellsworth believes it can match-up with Somerset and thus what may decide the game is not Somerset's size, strength and winning tradition but things like turnovers, penalties and special teams.

"We're two teams who are mirror images of each other," EHS head coach Clair Austin said. "We both have speed and we both play physical football. Those factors being equal, the game will probably be decided by special teams or the one squad who makes fewer mistakes."

Although Spring Valley's last-second loss to Colfax kept the Cardinals upcoming contest at Mondovi from being a battle of unbeatens, it's still a big one as the 3-1 Redbirds face the unbeaten and No. 5 ranked Buffaloes. 

Valley will have to shore up the pass defense which was burned repeatedly by Colfax quarterback Jerrod Rudi. Head coach Ryan Kapping said Mondovi quarterback Zach Ganschow is just as formidable.

"Mondovi can hurt you running or throwing the ball so we have to be on our toes on defense and put the pressure on them instead of reacting." Kapping said.

Other games involving Pierce County teams has Prescott looking to bounce back from last week's blanking at the hands of Somerset against New Richmond while Elmwood/Plum City badly needs a Lakeland South Conference win and hopes to get its first at Turtle Lake.

Click this link for the state coaches' poll:

Middle Border Conference

Ellsworth                2-0          4-0

Somerset                      2-0             4-0

Prescott                  1-1          3-1

Osceola                         1-1             3-1

Durand                          1-1             2-2

New Richmond             1-1             1-3

Amery                            0-2             1-3

Baldwin-Woodville       0-2             1-3

Friday, Sept. 13

Somerset 30, Prescott 0

Durand 12, New Richmond 7

Osceola 18, Baldwin-Woodville 14

Ellsworth 23, Amery 0

Friday, Sept. 20

Somerset at Ellsworth

Baldwin-Woodville at Durand

Prescott at New Richmond

Amery at Osceola

Lakeland South Conference

Alma/Pepin                         2-0             4-0

Clear Lake                           2-0              3-1

Shell Lake                            1-1              2-2   

Clayton                                1-1             1-3

Turtle Lake                          0-1             1-3

Elmwood/Plum City      0-2         1-3

Lake Holcombe/Cornell     0-2             0-4

Friday, Sept. 13

Alma/Pepin 28, Clayton 6

Shell Lake 14, Elmwood/Plum City 13

Clear Lake 48, Lake Holcombe/Cornell 6

Cameron 28, Turtle Lake 16 (nc)

Friday, Sept. 20

Alma/Pepin at Clear Lake

Shell Lake at Flambeau (nc)

Elmwood/Plum City at Turtle Lake

Clayton at Lake Holcombe/Cornell

Dunn-St. Croix Conference

Mondovi                              2-0          4-0

Glenwood City                   1-0           4-0

Colfax                                 1-1          3-1

Spring Valley              1-1         3-1

St.  Croix Central              1-1          1-3

Boyceville                           0-1          2-2

Elk Mound                         0-2          1-3

Friday, Sept. 13

Glenwood City 62, Elk Mound 26

Colfax 19, Spring Valley 14

Mondovi 36, St. Croix Central 21

Saturday, Sept. 14

Rosholt 20, Boyceville 14 (nc)

Friday, September 20

St. Croix Central at Boyceville

Spring Valley at Mondovi

Glenwood City at Colfax

Westby at Elk Mound (nc)

Dunn-St. Croix Conference player stats: