COLUMBUS – The Stratford football team hasn’t given up a point all season, in large part because the Tigers have won the battle in the trenches in every game.
The offensive and defensive line for Columbus found that out in Friday’s 46-0 shutout loss to the Tigers.
“I thought we could score and we had some good opportunities and they slammed the door,” Columbus coach Calvin Zenz said. “They are a legit team. Their defensive line and offensive line, I think they can hang with anybody in the state with those linemen up front.”
Last week, the Cardinals (3-1) rushed for 401 yards against New Glarus/Monticello. This week it was not the case as the Tigers (4-0), the top ranked team in Division 5 according to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, held them to negative 12 yards rushing. Running back Caden Brunell followed his 196-rushing yard performance last week with just 12 this week.
“When I tell you they are legit up front, I mean every word of that,” Zenz said. “That is the best defensive line I’ve ever coached against. We’ve coached against some good ones here, but usually it’s one or two guys. They had four of them that just came after you. When their backups weigh 208, that’s when you know they’re legit up front.”
Columbus quarterback Will Cotter threw for 55 yards on 8 of 17 passes, but he was sacked several times and had negative 19 rushing yards.
While Columbus, the 10th-ranked team in the Associated Press poll, struggled on offense, it was not the case for the Tigers.
Stratford runs a wing-t offense and they spread out the offensive production. Quarterback Max Schwabe completed all but two of his 13 attempts for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Schwabe’s first touchdown pass was a two-yarder that went to Vaughn Briet with 5:51 left in the first half to go up 21-0.
Schwabe’s best throw of the night came with just 57 seconds left in the first half. He threw a dart to Chase Flink for a 56-yard touchdown to head into halftime with a 27-0 lead.
Stratford’s Beau Gross rushed for 93 yards, Teddy Redman ran for 52 yards – as did Schwabe – and his lone touchdown of the night went for 12 yards to put the Tigers up 8-0 after they converted on a two-point conversion with 8:41 left in the first quarter.
Running back Devin Dennee – who rushed for 34 yards – led the Tigers with two touchdowns. His first was an 8-yard run with 5:52 left in the third to go up 40-0. And he scored from four yard out at 6:25.
“They spread the ball around,” Zenz said. “They make you guess. I think part of our problem on defense is their backs aren’t huge and their linemen are. We struggled to find them. It’s hard to simulate 6-6 and 6-7 in practice that can move like that. We struggled to find their backs with the misdirection. It was a learning experience.”
Zenz has been coaching for 13 years and he said, “I’ve never seen an offensive line come off the ball like that.”
“They would come off the sideline and say, ‘Whoa, they’re good.’ One kid came to the sideline and said, ‘I hit him with everything I had. He didn’t move.’ He was referring to No. 52 (Ben Barter). He’s the dude that’s going to go play for the Badgers.”
While things looked bleak for the Cardinals, they’re still better than what they’ve been the previous two seasons. Last season they only won one game and this season they’ve won three.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” said Zenz, who said his players never gave up despite the big deficit. “I don’t know if we’ll see someone that good again.”
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Zenz is happy the Cardinals won’t see Stratford again this season.
“Thank God,” he said.
STRATFORD 46, COLUMBUS 0
S —Teddy Redman 12 run (Matt Handrick run good), 8:41, 1st.
S —Max Handrick 10 run (kick failed), 1:40, 1st.
S — Vaughn Briet 2 pass from Max Schwabe (kick good), 5:51, 2nd.
S —Chase Flink 56 pass from Max Schwabe (kick failed), :57, 2nd.
S —Justin Schoenherr 6 run (pass failed), 7:47, 3rd.
S —Devin Dennee 8 run (kick good), 5:52, 3rd.
S —Devin Dennee 3 run (kick failed), 6:25, 4th.
First downs — S 26, C 4. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — S 43-314, C 20-(-12). Passing yards — S 144, C 55. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — S 11-13-1, C 8-17-1. Fumbles-lost — S 2-0, C 0-0. Penalties-yards — S 7-80, C 4-25.
Rushing: S, Beau Gross 11-93, Teddy Redman 10-52, Max Schwabe 3-52, Matt Handrick 5-46, Devin Dennee 6-34. C, Caden Brunell 12-12.
Passing: S, Max Schwabe 11-13-1, 144. C, Will Cotter 8-17-1, 55.
Receiving: S, Chase Flink 1-56, Teddy Redman 4-33. C, Teagan Herschleb 1-32, Caden Brunell 1-15.
Follow Mark McMullen on Twitter @mmcmull2 or contact him at 920-356-6754.