By Paul Lecker
STRATFORD — One thing you can expect to see every October is the Stratford High School football team in the WIAA playoffs.
The Tigers have not missed the playoffs since 1991, and although they are seven years removed from the last of their six-straight Division 6 state championships, they have won at least one playoff game in each of the past five seasons.
Head coach Jason Tubbs said he expects more of the same as this year’s squad should again compete for a Marawood Conference title and another spot in the WIAA postseason after going 7-4 and 5-2 in the conference in 2014.
“You always have Edgar, and there’s Marathon with a whole bunch of seniors, so it’s going to probably come down to us three,” Tubbs said. “I don’t want to count Tomahawk out as they have some good kids there. It will be another battle for the conference title, I hope.
“This team reminds me a lot of the team two years ago that tied for the conference championship and beat Edgar in overtime.”
Stratford will again boast a strong rushing attack, led by junior Kam Bornbach, who finished seventh in the Marawood last season with 359 yards and six touchdowns, and senior Taylor Krall, who had 194 yards and five scores in conference play.
“With Kam and Taylor coming back, they will be a pretty deadly combination,” Tubbs said. “With the guys up front, they really put the time in during the offseason and look really good getting off the ball and pushing guys around.”
With second-team all-Marawood performer Tanner Weinfurtner and honorable mention pick Dylan Peterson returning to the offensive line, opposing defenses will have their hands full trying to stop the Stratford offense.
“We’ve got some pretty big, powerful, fast backs and a line that can get the job done,” Peterson said. “I think we should have a pretty solid season.”
Sam Wenzel and Cole Hoffmann are in competition for the starting quarterback spot, and Tubbs said a decision on who would take the first snap will not be made until just before the opener.
Defensively, the Tigers have eight returning starters, including Bornbach at middle linebacker and Jesse Dickmann, an honorable mention all-conference defensive back.
The Tigers will need to have everything together quickly as they start the season with three games against top-notch competition.
Following Friday’s nonconference opener at Mosinee, Stratford hosts Colby in another nonconference game before it opens its Marawood Conference slate with two road games: at Marathon on Sept. 4 and at Tomahawk on Sept. 11.
Stratford took on a number of larger schools in a scrimmage last week at D.C. Everest, and Tubbs said he feels the Tigers will be ready to go when the first whistle blows.
“I thought we held our own against three pretty big schools (Shawano, D.C. Everest, and Green Bay Preble),” Tubbs said. “The team is looking pretty well. The guys that we wanted to work out hard this summer did their jobs, and they have come in ready to go.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.