#1 Canadian Defends State Title vs. Refugio 61-20

HOUSTON, TX – The debut of the Texas UIL Football State Championships in Houston’s NRG Stadium brought a number of story lines packaged in team buses from all around the Great Lone Star State. One story highlighted by the media was the 600 mile one-way trek one team would travel from the Northeast Panhandle in order to defend it’s 2014 Championship in Class 2A DI.

The Canadian Wildcat coaching staff not only faced a short week of game preparation due to a schedule that demands 10 Championships that must be played in 3 days, but had to put in extra hours planning the logistics it would take to deliver a high school football team the farthest of any program represented in the Championship Finals.

The team travel itinerary began at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, taking 30 minutes just to get 7 miles south of Canadian on US Highway 60/83 due to an elaborate community send-off which not only included a mounted rider in a Santa suit waving the Canadian Wildcat flag, but also a light single engine aircraft flying slow enough alongside the team buses so that the “GO WILDCATS” sign pasted in its window could be read.

Once the cruise down Highway 83 had been established, one stop for a meal and another for trash disposal and restroom break, the team arrived on schedule to have a 4:00 p.m. practice at the indoor facility located on the campus of Springtown High School. The team left the practice with just enough time left in the day to make a stop for dinner and arrive at a DFW area hotel for lights out at 11:00 p.m. This same routine would be repeated on Wednesday with another borrowed indoor facility at Cleburne and on to downtown Houston for dinner and a hotel. The schedule would get even tighter as the Wildcats had to be prepared for the “early game” at 10:00 a.m. Friday, December 17th.

This Championship, like others on the schedule, matched two teams familiar with State Final playoff games. Refugio has appeared 3 times in the Finals in the last 5 years, taking home a Championship in 2011. Canadian has reached the Final game 5 times since 2007, winning 4 of those Championships.

The pre-game hype was typical with the exception of an unusually high 23 point prediction line published by Harris rankings favoring Canadian. There have been more ways used to prepare for Canadian than has been seen from other teams in years and confidence to take on the defending State Champions have been a part of it. The coach from Anson who Canadian met in the regional round used the Mike Tyson quote: “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” to keep his players fired up.

The anticipation was generally considered to be that Canadian would face the toughest opponent of the season, having dominated the class along with wins against 3A and 4A teams for the last 30 games. That’s not a typo; Canadian brought a 30-0 win streak with them to NRG. Finishing the season 16-0, made the consecutive win streak of 31-0 tying the record held by Wheeler for all Panhandle teams. The streak is even sweeter for one young man, team Quarterback Tanner Schafer. 31-0 represents every game he has played for the Wildcats since becoming the starting QB.

The first quarter opened with the Refugio Bobcats forcing the first of 3 three-and-outs against the fast-to-line-up-quick-snapping Canadian NASCAR offense, but met disaster in their first offensive series when Canadian LB Cade Throgmorton (the game’s Defensive MVP) jumped a pass route of a quick screen and took the INT 35 yards for the pick-6.  Benigno Heredia (7-for-7 PATs, 4 FGs) was good on the PAT and Canadian was on the board with 8:46 left in the first quarter.

When Canadian QB Tanner Schafer (14-for-24, 243 yards, 3 TDs passing, 9-for-26 yards rushing, 1 TD rushing, Championship game Offensive MVP) was forced to punt from his own end zone, Refugio RB Omri Oliver set up a short field for the Bobcats to work with a 14 yard return to the Wildcat 22 yard line. Canadian’s defense held for 8 plays until Refugio RB Isaiah Perez took the direct snap and pushed into a scrum for the TD. The PAT by K Marcus Arredondo tied the score at 7-7 with 11:24 left in the second quarter.

The first quarter would prove to be the last remnant of anything that resembled a close game, with Canadian’s scoring floodgates opening to produce 24 points in the second period, while the Wildcat defense continued to frustrate Refugio’s offense and allowed the Wildcats to go in at halftime with a 31-7 lead.

Schafer hit RB Chance Cook (17 carries for 100 yards, 2 TDs) with a fast ball that flew 30 yards downfield from the 36 yard line for the second Wildcat TD with 9:13 left in the half, then with 3:10 left, Schafer took in a keeper for a TD. After a Canadian defensive stop the punt by Refugio QB Jaylon Mascorro (13-for-34, 183 yards, 4 INTs) was deflected by the back of Kobie Herring due to the pressure given by DB Manny Ramsey and gave Canadian the ball on the Refugio 27 yard line. Five plays later, WR Cameron Copley took a reverse and lowered his shoulder and ran through CB Les Rhodes on the 2 yard line for the score and Canadian led 28-7 with 14 seconds left in the half.

The ensuing kickoff was fumbled by Bobcat receiver Austin Moya and the Wildcats recovered on the Refugio 8 yard line with 5 of the 14 seconds left in the half, time enough for K Benigno Heredia to kick a 25 yard FG as time ran out, giving Canadian a 31-7 lead going in at the break.

The second half opened with Refugio receiving the kickoff and driving down to the Canadian 33 in 6 plays. The 7th play Mascorro was attempting to hit WR Les Rhodes in the end zone for a score when it was intercepted by DB Cameron Copley, bringing the ball out to the 20 yard line to begin Canadian’s next possession and a 5 play, 80 yard drive, featuring a 44 yard pass from Schafer to WR Manny Ramsey and capped by an 11 yard strike to WR Cameron Copley for the score, extending Canadian’s lead to 38-7.

The next Refugio offensive series ended in a 3-and-out and the Wildcats took over on the Bobcats 35 yard line and went 3-and-out as well, but advanced the ball to the Refugio 29 yard line. Kicker Benigno Heredia went to work on 4th and 4 to make his longest FG of the season from 46 yards out, thrilling Canadian fans with 3 more points to increase their lead to 41-7 with 6:41 left in the third quarter.

Refugio returned the next kickoff to their own 21 yard line and put together a drive consisting of 7 plays and 71 yards that ended with Mascorro throwing a 30 yard TD pass to WR Daidrin Dukes. The PAT by K Marcus Arredondo was blocked by Chance Cook, just a reminder that Canadian was still going full speed despite the 28 point deficit with 4:30 left in the 3rd quarter. Bobcats were on the board again, down 41-13.

Refugio executed a successful on-side kick with WR Les Rhodes recovering the ball that couldn’t be handled by C Logan Godino. The resulting drive for the Bobcats ended in 7 plays with an INT by FS Chance Cook. Cook’s number was called on the very next offensive play by Canadian for a 27 yard TD rush around the weak side. Cook not only had the speed to hit the edge, but used a burst going down the sideline that ruined every angle the Bobcat DBs had to push him out of bounds before going into the end zone. Heredia’s PAT was good and a stunned and weakened Refugio team trailed 48-13 with 3:30 left in the third.

After Canadian’s Semi-Final win over Crawford,  Greg Tepper, writer and on air personality for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football created a hashtag that described the Championship game at this point. Refugio was matched with #TheCanadianMachine.

Chance Cook went on to intercept another Mascorro pass from his Free Safety position on the next series which setup the efficient Canadian offense on their 44 yard line. One of the most exciting and physical plays of the game came with the next snap as Schafer hit WR Sawyer Cook. Cook fired up the Canadian crowd and was honored by Fox Sports Southwest tagging the play as one of the top 10 of the week when he rambled approximately 35 yards-after-catch when 3 Bobcat defenders couldn’t stop Cook, continuing to drag one defender over 20 yards until 2 other Refugio defenders could finally help bring him down. Wildcat WR Manny Ramsey was assisting Cook all along the way and a face mask penalty placed the ball on the Refugio 8 yard line. Schafer’s 8 yard TD pass to WR Cameron Copley ended the drive on the next play, adding to the scoring already getting comfortable for Canadian to 55-13.

Going into the fourth quarter, the Refugio turnovers, penalties (11 for 115 yards compared to 3 for 25 on Canadian) along with the stiff and unforgiving Canadian defense had done significant damage making a comeback rally impossible. The next Wildcat offensive series took advantage of 3 different penalties assessed on the Bobcats, but finally held on a 4th and 12 on the Refugio 14 yard line where K Benigno Heredia came out to line up yet another FG that was good from 31 yards out with 9:21 left in the game. Heredia was not able to get any rest yet, however, as Schafer and Co. moved the ball into position for Heredia’s final FG from 35 yards out making the score 61-13 with 6:11 left in the game. This drive would be the last of Schafer’s stellar high school career as reserve QB Corbin Douthitt and other reserves would take the reins for the last 2 Canadian possessions.

Refugio would go on to score late with a punt return by Omri Oliver of 53 yards with 1:11 left in the contest. Canadian QB Douthitt would take care of the final possession and run the clock out to begin the celebration of Canadian’s fourth State Championship.

The 2015 Wildcats have finished one of the most dominate seasons played by a 2A team in history, lining up and winning over 16 teams, at least 6 times pulling key starters after the first half. Canadian scored 820 points this season giving up 131 points. An average of 51.25 points scored per game and 8.19 points given up by defense per game for the season. Van Harris of the Harris Rating system, said the closest team he has ever rated next to the 2015 Wildcats was the 2012 Munday team at 231. This year, Harris, who only ranks through the regular season, ranked Canadian at 245. The highest ranking for a 2A/1A 11-man team since Harris’ father John started the system in 1963.

Key players, such as QB Tanner Schafer, ended his season with 4,053 yards passing with 292 completions on 377 attempts (a 77% completion rate), 49 TDs, and incredibly only 2 INTs. RB Chance Cook finished the season with 223 carries for 2,110 yards (9.5 YPC), and 32 TDs. WR Cameron Copley totaled 1,409 yards on 85 catches and 23 TDs, plus 6 defensive INTs.

Refugio’s QB  Jaylon Mascorro finishes the season with 4,238 yards passing. He had 80 yards rushing and 183 yards passing in the Championship game, but was sacked by Canadian’s defense 8 times and had 4 INTs.

There is no doubt that the stats, which validates the dominance of the entire schedule which included 3A and 4A teams as with the other teams in Class 2A will cause research and debate for years to come as the 2015 Canadian Wildcats will be compared with the very best teams that ever played Texas High School Football… not just Class 2A.

By Jerry Brunson, Class 2A and Canadian Wildcat Correspondent

@CHSWildcatNews on Twitter

“Canadian Wildcats & Lady Cats Update & Review” on Facebook

#5 Crawford is Devastated by #1 Canadian 61-14 in Class 2ADI Semi-Final

WICHITA FALLS, TX – Even if the Crawford coaching staff had decided to use the same strategy that Stratford used to limit Canadian’s scoring to one TD in the first half two weeks ago, it still wouldn’t have worked. The Pirates were held to only 26 yards total offense in the first half with no first downs. Stratford, to their credit, proved that a team must at least be able to make first downs to burn the clock and keep the ball out of the possession of what has to be the fastest paced offense in Texas High School football.

It must have been shock and awe for undefeated Crawford, now 14-1, fielding a defense that hasn’t given up more than 20 points per game all season to look up at a scoreboard that said Wildcats – 42, Pirates – 0 going in at the break. The 47 point deficit left by the final score of 61-14 was the largest point spread of any class of 11-man Texas High School Football Semi-Final this season. Next to that was a 36 point deficit in a 4ADI match. And Crawford’s RB Max Viladevall kept that deficit from being 54 points by scoring on a one yard run (Foss PAT) with only 11 seconds left in the game.

Crawford Head Coach Delbert Kelm admitted to what a number of opposing coaches that prepared for the Wildcats this year have noted, that being the fast-to-line-up-quick-snapping offense led by QB Tanner Schafer (29 for 34, 316 yards, 2 TDs) cannot be imitated in practice. Therefore, many defenses get a true feel for what’s coming at them far too late in the game, not to mention the physical conditioning the Canadian offense displays to maintain the blistering pace; a pace that causes many defenses to be “sucking wind” before the end of the first half. That advantage combined with the ability to give little or no time for the defense to line up and read formations can easily create a snowball effect of scoring on short field situations handed to them by the tough Wildcat defense. Through the playoffs, Canadian has outscored their opponents in the first half by 214 to 8.

Canadian received the opening kickoff and proceeded to drive 75 yards in 10 plays, topped off with a scrambling Schafer hitting WR Sawyer Cook in the back of the end zone from the 14 yard line for the first score of the game with 9:28 left in the first quarter. The kickoff to Crawford was followed by a 3-and-out forced by the Wildcat defense. Taking over on their own 35 yard line, the Wildcats ripped off a 49 yard screen pass form Schafer to WR Ryan Royse (8 for 119 yards) to the Crawford 16 yard line. RB Chance Cook (147 yards on 15 carries, 4 TDs) then ran off tackle for 15 yards down to the 1 yard line. First and goal saw Cook push against several Pirate defenders to break the plane of the goal line for the second score with 7:25 left in the first quarter.

All-State kicker, Benigno Heredia (4-for-5 PATs), having kicked most of his kickoffs out of the end zone, hung the kickoff in a 12 mph wind that was received at the 25 yard line and was returned to the Pirate 40 yard line by LB Koby Smith. The drive was ended by a Wildcat stop on a third and two, another 3-and-out.

After Crawford’s punt rolled out of bounds at the Canadian 14 yard line, the Wildcats went to work moving the ball up to their 45 yard line. On the 5th play of the drive Schafer was sacked by DE Cade Johnson on a 3rd and 6 and was forced to punt.

The next offensive series for the Pirates started out with Canadian LB Cade Throgmorton getting a sack on QB Wyatt Griffith by hustling from a block that had him on his knees to get to Griffith’s ankles for a 5 yard loss. Then on 3rd & 13 Griffith was tripped up as he backed away from the center after the snap, ending another drive with a 3-and-out, the frustration building for the Pirates.

Chance Cook fielded the Pirate punt on the 8 yard line and advanced it to the 24, where the Wildcats started a 7 play, 76 yard drive that included another 21 yard gain on a Ryan Royse screen pass and capped with a 3 yard run by Cook.

As the second quarter ended, so did the next possession by Crawford as a bad exchange between Griffith and RB Noah Bleything yielded a fumble recovery by Canadian LB Throgmorton on the Pirate 19 yard line. Four plays later, RB Chance Cook went into the end zone standing up making the score 28-0, Canadian with 11:32 left in the second quarter.

The second period would play out much like the first, with Canadian scoring on two more drives of 67 and 50 yards, Cook would run in another TD from the 1 yard line and Schafer would throw another TD pass to WR Cameron Copley running a slant route from the Pirate 20 yard line.

The second half began with a renewed effort from the Pirate offense taking their first possession and driving 77 yards on 16 plays for the first Pirate score. QB Griffith hit WR Cade Johnson, making a great play on the ball in double coverage by Chance Cook and Manny Ramsey on a flea-flicker from the Canadian 23, setting up a TD run from the 2 yard line by Noah Bleything with 6:06 left in the third quarter.

With half of the third period taken by Crawford, Canadian answered the opening second half scoring effort by the Pirates in three plays taking only 50 seconds off of the clock. The short kickoff to Cameron Copley returned to the Pirate 48 yard line gave the Wildcats another short field to work with. Schafer hit Royse on an 8 yard pass then handed off to Cook on 2nd and 2 for a 36 yard romp to the 4 yard line. Schafer, on first and goal, unable to find an open receiver scrambled to the pylon for the score.

Disaster struck the Pirate offense once again when Griffith launched a pass downfield 30 yards to RB Jeff Ward, however, the slightly under-thrown ball was picked off by DB Cameron Copley. Canadian would convert the turnover to points 12 plays later with Schafer executing the quarterback bootleg to perfection from the Crawford 4 yard line for the TD with 11:20 left in the game.

Canadian would convert yet another fumble by Crawford caused by a pitch-out by Griffith to Jeff Ward that Ward couldn’t control. Canadian RB Bailey Urschel would push in the final Wildcat score from the 1 yard line (Douthitt PAT no good) giving the Wildcats a 61-7 lead with 4:25 left in the game.

Crawford’s RB Max Viladevall would score on a one yard run (Foss PAT) with only 11 seconds left in the game, concluding the contest with a final score of 61-14.

This Semi-Final win by Canadian marked the 30th consecutive win by the Wildcats, the longest current win streak in Texas High School football. It is also the career win status for QB Tanner Schafer as a starting QB for Canadian. Schafer will have the opportunity to finish the season with 4,000 yards passing in the Championship game Thursday at 10:00 a.m. in Houston’s NRG Stadium, where the Wildcats will face the Refugio Bobcats for the Texas UIL Class 2ADI State Championship. RB Chance Cook is less than 10 yards away from rushing for 2,000 yards this season and should easily achieve that goal on Thursday morning.

The Wildcats have worked their way through the 2015 season with the same methodical one-game-at-a-time philosophy as they did in the 2014 season and the results have been eye-opening to anyone that follows Texas High School Football. Although it appears that the results have matched the hype, Canadian will not consider their season goal achieved until they successfully defend the State Championship on Thursday. It is expected, and rightfully so, that the Refugio Bobcats will be the toughest opponent Canadian will face this season, creating the perfect atmosphere for a Championship game. As last year, all of the State Championship games will be televised by Fox Sports Southwest and scheduled to be rerun in the weeks to come. Check your local cable or satellite provider for the correct channel assigned to FSSW.

By Jerry Brunson, Class 2A and Canadian Wildcat Correspondent

@CHSWildcatNews on Twitter

“Canadian Wildcats & Lady Cats Update & Review” on Facebook

#7 Stratford Shutout 31-0 by #1 Canadian In UIL Q-Finals: Region 1 Final

AMARILLO, TX – There’s no question that Stratford’s plan to stay with their tried and true ground game and burn up the clock while keeping the high octane Canadian offense off of the field was a success; for the first half of the game. Unfortunately for the Elks, there would be a second half to play.

Anyone watching Twitter, Facebook, or the mobile score update world as did many of the 7,000 + fans at Dick Bivens stadium this afternoon might have gone into shock to see the Canadian Wildcats had been held to only 7 points in the first half. Perhaps there were even upset alerts sent out far and wide. The Elks have proven to be the most competitive team versus the Wildcats this season even before their well-executed strategic plan to stifle one of the highest scoring Offenses in Class 2A. And stifle them they did; in the first half.

After Canadian’s opening kickoff by Benigno Heredia (4 for 4 PATS, 1 FG) the Stratford offense reeled off a couple of 1st downs with their potent ground game until they were stopped at the Wildcat 38 yard line looking at 4th down. QB Jack McBryde received the long snap for the punt short in order to hit WR Ty Hess on a route to secure a 1st down with the fake punt. The pass was defended by Canadian DB Cameron Copley well enough to cause the incompletion and the Wildcats took possession on downs.

After watching Stratford burn up almost half of the first quarter, the Wildcat offense finally took the field just to suffer a 3-and-out. The Elks took over again and reeled off two more 1st downs before being stopped on the 50 yard line. The speedy fast-to-line-up-quick-snapping Wildcat offense ran two plays before the first quarter ended, making the offensive plays by Canadian in in the first quarter come to a total of five. For the Elks, with one period in the books, their plan was a raving success. However, as the 2nd quarter began, Canadian finished off the 9 play 83 yard drive with an 11 yard TD pass from QB Tanner Schafer (17 for 22, 2 TDs) to WR Manny Ramsey (Heredia PAT good) to light up the scoreboard 7-0 with 10:41 left in the 2nd.

Stratford burned even more of the 10:41 left, but without a score to show for it. The last offensive series for Canadian was made up of  six plays and a 1st down, ending the half with a hook-and-ladder play that was stopped on the Elk 31 yard line, Canadian driving hard and fast for another score, but was denied the time to find the end zone. With the first half in the books Stratford had done what no other team in two seasons has been able to; sidelining Canadian’s NASCAR offense long enough and harassing them just enough defensively to hold them to only one score in the first half.

Of course, everyone in the Panhandle was interested in what was being said in the locker-rooms at halftime. QB Tanner Schafer recalls, “Going in at halftime and only having scored 7 points from the offensive standpoint was not what we expected. We have one of the best defenses in the state, and they showed that this afternoon.” Schafer went on to say, “At halftime we fixed a couple of things we didn’t expect them to do and came out with new plays that helped us out a bunch. Defense wins games and they proved that today.”

The second half opened with Canadian receiving the kickoff, driving 75 yards on 13 plays to push the score to 14-0. RB Chance Cook (191 yards rushing on 24 carries, 2 TDs) displayed both power and speed with punishing run plays on the drive, one for 16 yards and another for 22 yards. Schafer also delivered WR Manny Ramsey a pass for 16 yards and WR Sawyer Cook hauled in a reception for 8 yards on the same drive. The Canadian O-line finally made it possible for Cook to walk into the end zone from the 1 yard line for the TD exactly where he had been upended on a big hit earlier by Elks DB Fernando Jacquez.

On the second play of Stratford’s next drive, a slightly under-thrown pass from QB Jack McBryde to RB Fernando Jacquez was intercepted by Wildcat LB Sawyer Cook and returned to the Elk  19 yard line, but was spotted at the 32 yard line due to a penalty. The Elks held off the Wildcats converting the turnover into a TD, however, All-State kicker Benigno Heredia was able to punch a 35 yard FG through the uprights against a gusting 15 mph wind making the score 17-0 with 4:45 left in the 3rd quarter.

The ensuing drive the Elks put together had made it to the Canadian 33 yard line until the next play when McBryde was sacked by LB Cade Throgmorton (returning from a knee injury) for a 10 yard loss. McBryde proceeded to make up for the yards lost by hitting WR Ty Hess on a beautiful out pattern to bring up a 4th and 2, which they couldn’t convert and turned over the ball on downs.

The Wildcat NASCAR offense then cranked out a 9 play 65 yard scoring drive with a mixture of pass/run calls against a tiring, but very determined Elk defense. RB Chance Cook’s number was called for his second TD, going in standing up from the 2 yard line with 9:57 left in the 4th.

This game was without question the most physical played by either team all season. WR/LB Sawyer Cook reflected on matching up with a team known for hard hitting like Stratford. “I believe the preparation throughout the week led us to being the more physical team throughout the game. The game was won in the trenches on both sides of the ball.” Cook’s first cousin, DE Cooper Trolinger, added that there’s a very strong team brotherhood component involved:  “We went in at half and fixed some things and came out and were physical. We play as a team and have each other’s backs.”

The Elks next drive began with McBryde being sacked by DE Cory Chidester for an 11 yard loss and ended with a shanked punt that setup the Wildcats on the Stratford 34 yard line.

The momentum Canadian’s offense had regained with the supersonic tempo that is a normal day at the office for them, took full advantage of the short field left by the shanked punt and scored on the 4th play in just a couple of minutes. RB Cooper Trolinger received a 5 yard pass from Schafer out in the flat, and then powered his way through Elk LB John McBroom for the TD near the pylon with 6:49 left in the game, 31-0 Canadian.

On their last possession, the Stratford offense appeared to be devastated by one of the the stingiest defenses in Class 2A and had only 107 total yards until the last play of the game, a 32 yard run by RB Kevin Hernandez. Canadian finished with 408 total yards compared to Stratford’s 139.

The win by Canadian places them in the State Semi-Final with the Region 2 Champions, the Crawford Pirates (14-0) scheduled for Friday, December 11th, 7:30 p.m., at Wichita Falls Memorial Stadium. Completing the Final Four teams in Class 2ADI is the Semi-Final match between Lovelady (14-0) and Refugio (12-2). The State Championship will be played at Houston’s NRG Stadium, at 10:00 a.m., December 17th.

By Jerry Brunson, Class 2A and Canadian Wildcat Correspondent

@CHSWildcatNews on Twitter

“Canadian Wildcats & Lady Cats Update & Review” on Facebook

#1 Canadian to meet District Rival Stratford Elks in Quarter-Finals

AMARILLO, TX – After the wait from Thanksgiving evening until Monday evening for confirmation of the next opponent Canadian will face in the Quarter-Final round (Regional Final), the Wildcats now know the Stratford Elks will get a second shot at Canadian by winning the Regional round against Wellington, 42-8.

 Texas UIL rules require a five day span between games; making a Saturday game the earliest the next playoff game for the Elks can be scheduled. That schedule, will be Saturday, November 5th, 2:00 P.M at Dick Bivens Stadium in Amarillo for Stratford and Canadian to square off again this season.

 The Elks were expected to be in this position from the start of the season. Taking on the Wildcats in their own house was a standing room only affair on October 23th, but the rivalry showdown didn’t quite materialize with Canadian not allowing a score by Stratford until the second half. Even though the Elks held the Wildcats to a field goal in the second half, the 28 points Canadian lit up on their side of the scoreboard in the first half became the spoiler alert for the game-of-the-week that never was.

 The major factor that hasn’t gone anywhere in this matchup is the motivation that continues to build for the Elks, especially as they advance into the playoff season improving with each week and each win. Stratford does not envision going to the same movie they saw last season as the Wildcats took them down 51-35 in conference play then humbled the Elks once again in the Regional round with a 34-0 shutout. It appears the Wildcats have collected their payback and more for the 2012 loss to the Elks (13-12) and the next year (2013) having the Elks take another game by only 1point, 22-21 at Canadian.

 Stratford was favored in the Regional round game against Wellington, and certainly took care of business with a turnover plagued Skyrocket squad. Elk LB Tanner Stone got the ball rolling, so-to-speak, when Wellington had driven all the way down to the Stratford 3 yard line and with a 4th down try for the end zone, Stone saw a chance to strip the ball of RB Jose Tellez and took it 97 yards for a TD. The Elks would go on to score 28 points on 5 Rocket turnovers.

 QB Jack McBryde even made some people rub their eyes in disbelief that they were watching a Stratford offense by throwing 4 TD passes in the same game. He went 5 for 10 and 139 yards with 1 INT. You can just hear old Elk alums now, “Say it ain’t so! Where’s our ground and pound?” You’ve entered the Twilight Zone whenever the Elks pass for 139 yards and rush for 118, but that’s what they did against Wellington Monday night.

 But will all of this be enough when lining up against a defense that allows only 7.4 points per game and an offense averaging 53.3 points per game? As much as the Elks have improved since they met last in October, the Wildcats also keep improving.

 Elks QB Jack McBryde and his offensive line can’t ignore the fact that the Wildcats 3-man defensive front account for 24 sacks this season alone, then add to that the linebacker and DB blitzes chalking up 20 more sacks. When all of the havoc created by a vicious pass rush isn’t enough, the DBs will be happy to add to their 15 interceptions this season.

 Then there’s the fast-to-line-up-quick-snapping NASCAR offense that has also been improving; and unlike the game in October played on a semi-slick rain soaked natural turf at Stratford, this Saturday, in comparison, they’ll be on a race track at Dick Bivins Stadium on Field Turf. Canadian QB Tanner Schafer has reached 3,332 yards of passing. That kind of yardage doesn’t materialize without some very capable receivers like Cameron Copley, Manny Ramsey, Ryan Royse, and Sawyer Cook. If that’s not enough to keep the Elks busy in the film room, they’ll be working on a plan to stop Chance Cook, the premier running back in Class 2A that just happens to take handoffs from Schafer and finds huge holes opened up by his offensive line to the tune of almost 1,700 yards this season.

 As is always the case, with the kickoff of the pigskin next Saturday afternoon both teams will be starting at zero. All of the talking and writing and predicting will mean very little in that moment. The only thing that will matter is what the point totals on the scoreboard say when the final buzzer sounds.

 By Jerry Brunson, Class 2A and Canadian Wildcat Correspondent

 @CHSWildcatNews on Twitter

 “Canadian Wildcats & Lady Cats Update & Review” on Facebook