By Paul Lecker
STRATFORD — The Stratford football team had its ups and downs this season, but it is hard to deny that the Tigers enter the playoffs playing their best football of the season.
Stratford (7-2) has won its last four games by a combined score of 188-27 and earned a No. 2 seed in Group C of the WIAA Division 5 playoffs. The Tigers will host Colby (4-5) in a Level 1 matchup Friday night at 7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.
With a disheartening 15-13 loss to then undefeated Edgar on Sept. 18, the Tigers essentially fell out of Marawood Conference title contention with their second loss of the year. However, they did not fold the tent.
Stratford rebounded with a 42-8 win over Chequamegon and has rolled from there, not giving up more than one touchdown in any of the final four games.
“I am very pleased that our team has played well down the stretch,” Stratford coach Jason Tubbs said. “We had some games where everyone got on the field and we could rest some of our banged up players. This group is fun to be around, and their work ethic day in and day out continues to impress me.”
The Tigers have been relying on a punishing running game that has racked up 276 yards per contest. Kam Bornbach has 931 yards and 14 touchdowns, and Taylor Krall has added another 697 and eight scores.
Cole Hoffmann, who switched from quarterback to running back following a loss to Marathon in the third game of the year, gives Stratford another strong running presence as he has 417 yards on the ground, averaging 7 yards per carry.
Sam Wenzel took over as the starting quarterback in the fourth game and has thrown for 639 yards and six TDs, three to top receiving threat Jesse Dickmann.
Colby started the year 1-4, including a 32-0 loss at Stratford on Aug. 28 in the second game of the season. Since then the Hornets have won three of four, including a 59-14 rout of Neillsville last week that allowed them to get into the playoffs.
In the three wins, Colby has scored more than 40 points in each, a turnaround for a team that was shut out three times.
“Colby is a very solid team,” Tubbs said. “Coach (Jeff) Rosemeyer is a great coach, and I expect them to play extremely hard and be physical as usual. We need to continue to run the football and limit our mistakes. Both teams have improved, so it should be another great Friday night.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at email@example.com.