DQ Comes to Town for Canadian/Stratford
Updated: September 12, 2016
When Fox Sports Southwest rolls into a little town of 2,300 people to produce their DQ Big Game of the Week, it is the equivalent of ESPN’s College Game Day show visiting a university campus. Starting in 2002, sportscaster Neil Beasley and crew have become the premier high school football highlight show in the country. Neil’s crew can be sure that Canadian folks will provide great hospitality during their visit to the “Jewel of the Panhandle”. Rumor has it that the Big Texan Steakhouse in Amarillo is a DQBGOTW crew destination, so we expect that they will also be directed to Canadian’s Cattle Exchange Steakhouse. Of course, none of this can be confirmed or denied since the FSSW DQ Big Game of the Week show is sponsored by the famous Texas restaurant chain, Dairy Queen, which is much appreciated by Texas high school football fans.
“This ain’t my first rodeo” comes to mind when covering the Wildcats for the DQBGOTW highlight show. Neil and crew met the Wildcats in person for the first time on December 12th, 2014, at Wichita Falls Memorial Stadium in a 49-14 State Semi-final win over Mart. The keen sense that Beasley and his crew has to sniff out the big games wouldn’t have missed the aroma of this classic rivalry and competition with a clothes pin on their nose. Both programs have combined to amass seven state championships, seven state semifinal finishes, and four more state quarterfinal finishes. They are without question two of the most successful programs in Panhandle area history.
The game is an immediately circled one on everyone’s schedule and contains all of the variables that only the player’s performances can transform the match into a “classic”. For example, last season Canadian traveled to Vernon for another ‘game of the week’ with State ranked Albany to end in a 49-0 blowout by the Wildcats rather than a classic battle of the ages. Be for sure that will not happen to the Stratford program. No way, no how.
Stratford will be bringing a 2-0 record and a #3 State ranking in Class 2A DI. The first clue fans get on how the Elks plan to stop the balanced offensive attack of Canadian is the twin towers of Parker Hanna and Russell Spurlock, both 6-6 and 235lbs and 215lbs respectively. And they play up to their size, which is scary for any offense. The domination they plan to deliver will be met by a Canadian O-line that averages over 230lbs with a 6-6, 242lb TE/WR of their own in Tyler Carr. The Elks defensive backs will focus on Wildcat WR Manny Ramsey, averaging over 100 yards of receiving the last three games, along with the ground game of RB Chris Jones, having offered 3 consecutive 100 yard plus rushing games. The return of All-State WR/DB Cameron Copley from an injury is still pending.
Canadian (#2 in Class 3A DII) will also have Carr on the defensive front with Tyler Richardson and Erick Gonzalez to jam up the initial running lanes for Stratford’s RB Shay Hess and RB Gage Brooks (22 for 199 in the last two outings). The ground and pound game made famous by the Elks is alive and well, however, the introduction of strategic pass completions keep defenses honest in the secondary. QB Cade McBryde, a cousin of last year’s QB Jack McBryde is more than willing to throw over the top of defenses (to receivers like Fernando Jacquezor Pedro Ortega) that the run game has pulled in, or scramble for key first downs.
Canadian’s Sr. QB Corbin Douthitt, a first year starter like McBryde, has proven to be a threat when he calls his own number or is forced to scramble. Douthitt has totaled 412 yards passing in the first 3 games and has the arm capable of hitting his receivers downfield as far as needed. But he’s still striving for a breakout passing game. Douthitt’s talents extend into the kicking game also. His rugby style punts usually have a wicked roll in the Wildcats favor and he’s already kicked a 37 yard (wind assisted) FG this season.
Certainly payback is a huge factor in the Elks motivation having suffered two losses to Canadian last season, but Stratford is more disciplined than to allow those emotions to interfere with the performance needed to win a big game on the road like this one. The Wildcats, on the other hand, are still seeking the quickest maturity possible for 13 to 14 first time starters. That might sound frustrating to Canadian fans, however, the 1-2 record is due to facing two 4A schools that fielded the best teams against Canadian in several years and the Wildcats still played a totaled 62-49 in the two resulting losses. All-in-all, not a bad showing for that many players still learning to be starters.
However, Canadian won’t have any valid excuses when hosting 2A Stratford on Friday night, September 16th This particular Wildcat team is getting a crash course in how to handle pressure and growing pains. Every team, every week, has to bring the players they have ready to go no matter of their depth, experience, or injuries.
You should try to get to Canadian if you’re in the area, because you will not experience a much better Texas high school football game like this one shapes up to be of any class, anywhere else in the state. The house will be packed and the entire environment will be electric. Even the air will smell a little different from any regular season game you’ve ever attended.
Jerry Brunson for Lone Star Gridiron
Photos from last years Quarterfinal matchup between these two: