Tigers clinch 24th-straight WIAA playoff berth
By Paul Lecker
AUBURNDALE — The goal for the Stratford defense is not only to stop the opposing team from scoring but to score itself. The Tigers did both on Friday against Auburndale.
Stratford had a safety on the first play of the second quarter, and Taylor Krall returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown in the final seconds of the half to lead the Tigers to a convincing 36-6 victory at Auburndale High School.
Stratford is now 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the Marawood Conference and clinches a WIAA playoff berth for the 24th year in a row. Auburndale drops to 3-5 and 2-4 in the conference and is eliminated from postseason contention.
In between the two defensive scores, the Tigers offense ran just 10 plays and scored touchdowns on three of them to complete a 29-point quarter and take control of the game.
“Anytime we get an interception return for a touchdown and a safety — for us that’s one of our goals every week is to score on defense and score on special teams,” Stratford coach Jason Tubbs said.
After a scoreless first quarter, Stratford scored on the opening play of the second quarter. Auburndale snapped the ball over punter Collin Hawkins’ head, and it went through the back of the end zone for a safety.
Four plays after the free kick, Cole Hoffmann ran in from 40 yards out on fourth down to put Stratford up 8-0.
Jesse Dickmann intercepted a pass on Auburndale’s next possession, and just three plays later Wyatt Ehrike ran in from the 12 to put Stratford up 15-0.
The Tigers needed just three plays on their next possession to find pay dirt again when quarterback Sam Wenzel threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Dickmann.
Auburndale drove down to the 19 in the closing minutes before disaster struck. Krall stepped in front of a screen pass, picked it off, and ran it back untouched 75 yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 29-0 lead at halftime.
“It’s a big deal for us,” Tubbs said about the Tigers making the playoffs again. “Anything can happen in the playoffs, and our guys are getting better every week. That’s all we can ask from them.”
Stratford’s lone offensive play in the fourth quarter resulted in its final score, a 57-yard touchdown run by Kam Bornbach.
Auburndale got its only score on its next possession when Hawkins ran 72 yards for a score. Hawkins finished with an even 100 yards on the ground.
“They really played to their full potential on defense,” said Auburndale coach Eric Custer, a former player and assistant at Stratford. “We had a hard time getting passes off because they were so aggressive on the defensive line, and their linebackers got in their quick. They got in the gaps and caused havoc.”
Stratford hosts Pittsville, and Auburndale travels to first-place Marathon as the two teams will wrap up the regular season next Friday, Oct. 16.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Tigers 36, Apaches 6
Stratford 0 29 0 7 – 36
Auburndale 0 0 0 6 – 6
S – Safety, Auburndale snap out of end zone, 11:57.
S – Cole Hoffmann 40 run (run failed), 10:20.
S – Wyatt Ehrike 12 run (Dieter Vanhove kick), 8:28.
S – Jesse Dickmann 36 pass from Sam Wenzel (Vanhove kick), 4:10.
S – Taylor Krall 75 interception return (Vanhove kick), 0:15.
S – Kam Bornbach 57 run (Vanhove kick), 6:19.
A – Collin Hawkins 72 run (pass failed), 3:17.
First downs: Stratford 8; Auburndale 6.
Rushing (att-yards): Stratford 27-211; Auburndale 39-144.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): Stratford 4-8-64-1; Auburndale 4-13-39-3.
Penalties (total-yards): Stratford 3-20; Auburndale 9-66.
Fumbles (total-lost): Stratford 1-1; Auburndale none.
Punting (no.-avg.): Stratford 2-32.5; Auburndale 4-35.3.
Rushing: S, Kam Bornbach 6-97, Taylor Krall 6-47, Col Hoffmann 8-29, Wyatt Ehrike 3-22, Sam Wenzel 3-9, Nick Stoflet 1-7. A, Collin Hawkins 12-100, Kurt Jankowski 16-46, Aaron Willfahrt 8-9, Ryan Isaacson 3-minus 8.
Passing: S, Wenzel 4-7-64-1, Hoffmann 0-1-0-0. A, Isaacson 4-13-39-3.
Receiving: S, Jesse Dickmann 1-36, Stoflet 1-25, Hoffmann 1-3. A, Cameron Ertl 1-20, Willfahrt 2-12, Nathan Engelbright 1-7.
Punting: S, Jaren Fischer 2-32.5. A, Hawkins 4-35.3.
Interceptions (defense): S, Dickmann, Krall, Kyler Haupt. A, Willfahrt.
Fumble recoveries (defense): A, Engelbright.
Records: Stratford 6-2, 4-2 Marawood Conference; Auburndale 3-5, 2-4 Marawood Conference.