The Stratford Tigers looked to be back to their old self when the 2012 season started last Friday by taking it to the Phillips Loggers 69-7. Thursday night however, Stratford found themselves on the other side of the spectrum with an astonishing 50-0 loss to Eau Claire Regis. All this got me thinking: will Stratford be a dominant force in high school football again?
The Tigers are looking to return to a place that at one time was a very familiar site. A place the football team has not seen since 2008. The place is Camp Randall Stadium in Madison and it would be a perfect way for the Tigers to send long time coach Cal Tackes into retirement than with a win at the state championship this year.
The Tigers were the team of the decade in the 2000′s. From 2003-2008 they won six-straight Division 6 championships, with four of those seasons (03,04,05,07) being undefeated. Not only that but Stratford also won the most games in the state that decade with 82 regular season wins and 37 wins coming in the playoffs.
The past few years for the Tigers have been not up to their expectations. The team failed to reach 10 wins in each of the past three years and were not able to even make it to Madison. Those type of results are not what Tackes and the rest of the Stratford Tigers football team and their fans expect when heading into the season. And this season, Stratford’s 50th playing football, the bar is set high once again.
This year the Tigers are lead by senior running back Travis Urlaub, who ran for just under 1,000 yards and scored 15 touchdowns a year ago. Drew Spaeth will be back under center this year for his junior year. Spaeth filled in last year when then starting quarterback Nolan Bargender went down with an injury. Bargender will move to tight end this year and will give Spaeth a nice target to throw to over the middle. The defense gave up a lot of yards last year, but return most of their players and will look to improve from last years dismal numbers.
After two weeks into the season, the Tigers are 1-1 and not only have a defiant win but a loss that could be devistating to the season. In three weeks Stratford plays long time conference rival Edgar Wildcats. If they are not able to get past Marathon next week and Tomahawk after that leading up to the showdown with Edgar, the Tigers season will be all but done.
I look for Tackes and company to rally the troops, have a focused week of practices and bounce back from this beating they took and beat Marathon and Tomahawk the week after. Beating Edgar would not only boost the confidence of the team, but it could very well be the catalyst this team needs to make a run back to Madison. Will it happen? Only time will tell and I know I can’t wait for the annual Edgar-Stratford showdown.