Stratford secures playoff spot
By Hub City Times staff
STRATFORD – The Stratford Tigers locked up a postseason berth on Sept. 28 with a 43-7 win over the Auburndale Apaches at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers improved their record to 6-1 and locked up a playoff spot for Head Coach Jason Tubbs. “We knew we were eligible for the playoffs last week. Usually if you’re .500 you get in, but winning this one guarantees it now, and I think that continues the longest streak in the state. I know Coach (Cal) Tackes who helps us out is real proud of that and wants to keep it going every year.”
As Head Coach, Cal Tackes led the Tigers to six-straight state championships between 2003 and 2008, and now serves as a Tiger assistant coach.
The Tigers turned the ball over on downs on the opening possession of the game, and Auburndale went on a 14-play, 77-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead on a two-yard touchdown run by Trayton Weister. That’s the only time all night the Apaches would visit the end zone, as the Tiger defense buckled down.
On their next possession, the Tigers needed only three plays to find the end zone, on a 37-yard touchdown run by Chase Flink, after Stratford took possession at the Auburndale 40-yard line to start the drive.
The ensuing kickoff put the Apaches at their own 11-yard line. Auburndale lost four yards on first down and three yards on second down. On the next play, Auburndale’s Dylan Paun was tackled in the end zone for a safety, and Stratford grabbed a 9-7 lead. Each team went 3-and-out on their next possessions. When the Tigers got the ball back, they embarked on a seven-play drive that started at the Auburndale 46-yard line. Okley Wrensch capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Max Schwabe. Kade Ehrike added the two-point conversion, and Stratford grabbed a 17-7 lead with 4:31 left in the first half.
After an Auburndale three-and-out, the Tigers went on a four-play 48-yard drive, and scored on a 44-yard pass from Schwabe to Flink. The Apaches again went three-and-out, and Stratford took over at the Apache 47-yard line. Backup quarterback Chandler Schmidt hit Vaughn Breit on a 37-yard pass that Breit caught falling down. The next pass was incomplete. Schmidt then hit Ehrike on a screen pass that Kade ran in for another Tiger score. They led 31-7 at halftime.
The second half started with another Auburndale three-and-out. The Tigers got the ball back at the Apache 49-yard line, but fumbled three plays later. Auburndale got a drive going, but it stalled out after seven plays. An Apache punt put the Tigers back at their own 20-yard line. Stratford needed just four plays to cover 80 yards, the big play coming on a 44-yard TD run by Ehrike. Auburndale quarterback Cooper Weinfurter threw interceptions on the next two Apache possessions. After the second one, Stratford went 28 yards in four plays, and scored on a 12-yard run by Derek Marten.
The Tigers beat Auburndale for the 17th-straight time dating back to 2001. Coach Tubbs called the effort “good team bonding” after the game. “They really lean on each other, and they kind of build off of each other, and they got a little emotion going a little bit, and once that kind of snowballed all the guys started playing like we know how.”
Ehrike carried the ball 12 times for 128 yards and a touchdown. Marten had six carries for 44 yards and a score. Schwabe was 5-for-11 passing for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Schmidt was 2-for-2 for 47 yards and one touchdown. Stratford outgained Auburndale 360-138.
Stratford plays at Marathon Oct. 5. Auburndale will host Chequamegon.