Canadian Spanks Stratford 42-14
Updated: September 18, 2016
Canadian Settles Stratford Rivalry Game With Decisive 42-14 Finish
Having been dubbed “The Best Little Rivalry in Texas”, the Canadian Wildcats welcomed the challenge Friday night from the Stratford Elks amidst the great hype generated by the two Championship programs. The series of matches played by these two teams continue despite the re-aligned classifications and no longer sharing district competition. The hype was cranked up a notch or two with the presence of the Fox Sports Southwest Network choosing the game as the DQ Big Game of the Week for their Friday night High School Scoreboard Live show and no less than three radio stations broadcasting the game live from Wildcat Stadium with an estimated 3,500 fans in attendance.
Stratford came to town with a #3 ranking in Class 2A DI, always a highly respected foe both in that classification and the Canadian Wildcat locker room, which translates into a lot of hard work of preparation. Head Coach Chris Koetting stated that “We had a great week of practice”, which was echoed by several players including All-State WR/DB Cameron Copley, returning for the first game this season after wrist surgery this summer.
It can’t be overlooked that Canadian had their back against the wall with a 1-2 season staring back at them in the mirror and it is apparent they are finding some maturity in a number of first-time starters.
Stratford, facing the return of an impact player like Copley, had the opposite fortune with an injured OL/DL Hanna Parker on the sidelines unable to help stop the running game led by Wildcat RB Chris Jones and to apply more pressure on QB Corbin Douthitt (257 yards passing).
The opening stanza of scoring by both teams, caused great expectation for the possibility of the game to become one listed among the classics. Canadian drove down in 8 plays from their own 11 yard line scoring in the first 2:45 minutes of the game. Stratford then facing their first 3rd down in as many snaps, drew the Wildcat defense in with a couple of run fakes and QB Kade McBryde threw over the top of DB Mathew Lynch (1 INT) with a route by one lone receiver, RB Daniel Decasas breaking free from the tight-end position for an exciting 71 yard TD. Unfortunately for the Elks, it would be their only score in the first half compared to 3 more TDs by the Wildcats and went in at the break down 28-7.
Canadian’s All-State LB Holton Hufstedler now contributing as a running back and slot receiver on offense might have had one of the best outings in his entire high school career. Hufstedler brings back the classic fullback muscle needed on 3rd and short or to penetrate defenses attempting to make a goal line stand, of which he did for three of the Wildcat TDs in this game. But what no one expects of Hufstedler are the kind of hands he has to reel in a pass thrown high in the back corner of the end zone for a TD which he also demonstrated beautifully on this perfect night for football. All of that, and he was also instrumental in shutting down a fierce Stratford run game (their bread and butter) from his linebacker position.
The other two TDs the Wildcats scored other than Hufstedler’s 4, were a 3 yard run by RB Chris Jones (turning in his 4th 100+ yard rushing game) and the glad-to-be-back WR Cameron Copley with a 19 yard TD pass from Douthitt.
Ironically for the Elks, the second and final score in the 4th quarter was yet another pass from McBryde to RB Pedro Ortega, who slipped out from the backfield uncovered on a post route up the middle for the 23 yard TD with 4:33 left in the game. Credit McBryde and the Stratford coaches for the ability to score through the air again after their ground game with RB Gage Brooks, RB Shay Hess and others had been stifled by Wildcat DE Jackson Anderson,joined by DE Tyler Carr, and NG Tyler Richardson frequently getting to ball carriers before the linebackers got their shot that them. Canadian’s secondary was tested much more than just the two Elks TD pass plays. Key knockdowns by DBs Kelton King and Cameron Copley, along with interceptions recorded by DB Matthew Lynch and LB Cade Throgmorton didn’t allow the open receivers needed by Stratford QB McBryde to make the 3rd down conversions and scores necessary to cut the deficit and give the Elks a chance.
Next week, Canadian will have the opportunity to recover from the physical game brought by the Elks with an open date. Stratford’s schedule, however, will not let up on challenges for now, as they will host 3A DI Littlefield. Don’t for a minute count the Elks out. They will heal up and continue to improve by fighting through a tough pre-district schedule and be ready to make a deep run into the playoffs. Which is of course, the exact same plan that the Wildcats have.
Jerry Brunson for Lone Star Gridiron
*Photos by Michael Kerrigan