Midseason turnaround sparks Sparta playoff run

Starting the season 1-4, the ball just wasn’t bouncing the right way for the Sparta football team.

“In reality, we didn’t finish. We hadn’t had a game where we did play all four quarters,” junior Cole Wisniewski said.

“You’re always going to think stuff isn’t going your way. What it really comes down to is we weren’t playing as a team, we weren’t playing as a unit,” senior Garet Pfaff said.

Rock bottom came in week 5, giving up 62 points in a loss to Onalaska. However, first year head coach Adam Dow still saw a glimmer of hope.

“To go 62-55 shoot out with them really showed the team they can go out and compete with anyone in the conference,” Dow said.

“The message went around that we worked too hard for this. We stayed hungry and did what we needed to do,” Wisniewski said.

Eventually fortunes turned in Sparta’s favor. The Spartans newfound attitude led to 3 wins in the last 4 games, good enough to earn a 7 seed into the postseason.

“I was so excited. I was happy my senior year didn’t have to end right then. And we could keep playing,” senior Bryce Edwards said.

“Our end of the season wasn’t a fluke and ready to put the hammer down and play kids,” Pfaff said.

Despite having to drive 4 hours to their first round game against Ashland, the underdogs Spartans won convincingly 36-8 for the first playoff win in team history.

“That is something I don’t think anyone on this team will forget. It’s something we are going to keep with us. And we don’t want to be done there,” Wisniewski said.

Sparta will now see if they can keep the momentum going Friday against 3rd seed New Richmond.

“Have to go 1-0. All we focus on every single week. We go 1-0 we earn another game. You don’t go 1-0 we go home,” Dow said.

“We are ready to go. Come out hot against New Richmond. Keep our playoff streak going,” Edwards said.