Kings of the mountain
The reigning conference champion Stratford Tigers attempt to stay on top
By Paul Lecker
STRATFORD — The Stratford Tigers are coming off a season where they won their first outright Marawood Conference title since 2007 and reached the second round of the playoffs, finishing 9-2.
Six first-team all-Marawood players have graduated, three of which are moving on to play NCAA Division II football. But as is the case most of the time in Stratford, the cupboard is far from bare.
The Tigers bring back six all-conference players, including first-team inside linebacker Aiden Hoffman, and they expect to compete with the likes of Edgar and Marathon for another Marawood crown.
Two-time Marawood Back of the Year Kamren Bornbach and stout offensive linemen Tanner Weinfurter, Tyson Kauffman, and Ethan Fabry are gone, but Jason Tubbs said he likes what he sees from those ready to step in.
“Our seniors have done a nice job working in the offseason,” Tubbs said. “They definitely aren’t the same size, but their quickness is going to be apparent on the field. Our junior class is a nice group of kids that will mix in some spots, and our sophomores are a good team that is pushing kids to get on the field right now. It’s going to be a fun year. I want to say we’re a young team, but I want to see what we look like at the end of the year.”
Four running backs who ran for more than 150 yards last year are back for the Tigers. Juniors Kade Ehrike (287 yards, five touchdowns) and Derek Marten (163 yards, four TDs) and seniors A.J. Schoenfuss (171 yards, three TDs) and Jordan Becker (255 yards, two TDs) return to a backfield led by quarterbacks Eli Drexler, a junior, and Mark Handrick, a senior.
Drexler stepped into the starting role early last season as a sophomore and threw for 532 yards and a pair of scores and was a rushing threat as well.
Tubbs said senior Connor Multerer is ready to step in at one tackle spot, Luke Barten will play guard, and returning starters Aiden Hoffman and Dylan Schoenherr will return to the offensive line. The opening is at right tackle, where he said one of the younger guys could find a spot in the lineup.
Barten on the defensive line and senior defensive back Dilan Dehlinger were both second-team all-conference picks, and Becker, Drexler, and Ehrike were honorable mention choices that also return to the defense.
“It’s going to be hard to replace Kam and Ethan. But other than that, we’ve got a lot of guys back,” Tubbs said. “We have a lot of guys that played in our system, and I feel confident in our defense will be strong. We have to find someone to replace Cole Hoffman, our strong safety, and have some guys that are competing there.”
Barten said he is excited to see what the new Tigers will lend to the team on the field this fall as they try to contend for a 26th-straight trip to the WIAA playoffs.
“We have a bunch of great sophomores coming up to replace a really great senior class,” Barten said. “We have all the same goals as last year. It’s a great tradition and a great program to be in. I’m just really glad to be a part of it and keep winning every year.”
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
2017 STRATFORD FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
|Fri., Aug. 18||°STANLEY-BOYD||7 p.m.|
|Fri., Aug. 25||°at Antigo||7 p.m.|
|Fri., Sept. 1||CHEQUAMEGON||7 p.m.|
|Fri., Sept. 8||TOMAHAWK||7 p.m.|
|Sat., Sept. 16||*°PESHTIGO||Noon|
|Fri., Sept. 22||at Rib Lake/Prentice (at Prentice)||7 p.m.|
|Fri., Sept. 29||at Auburndale||7 p.m.|
|Fri., Oct. 6||MARATHON||7 p.m.|
|Fri., Oct. 13||at Edgar||7 p.m.|
Home games in CAPS, at Tiger Stadium