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Stratford running back Chase Flink hits the open field during the first half of the Tigers’ 41-0 win over Spencer/Columbus on Friday night at Tiger Stadium in Stratford. (Photo by Steve Pilz/For Zaleski Sports)

By Steve Pilz For Zaleski Sports

STRATFORD – The Stratford Tigers lost their home opener in Spencer last season.

This year they opened up at home, again with the Rockets.

Things were not a little different, they were a lot different. When it was over, the Tigers had a 41-0 nonconference victory at Tiger Stadium.

That Stratford team from a year ago, righted the ship in a hurry after that opening game loss to Spencer/Columbus Catholic, launching themselves all the way to the state championship game after beating the Rockets in a Division 5 Level 4 contest.

There was little doubt where this game was headed early on as quarterback Max Schwabe hit Vaughn Breit with a 16- yard jump ball that the 6-foot-6 Breit leapt up in the back of the end zone and came down with six points.

About five minutes later, the Tigers defense rose up to stop S/C’s Austin Bacon in the end zone for a safety and the Tigers were up 8-0 after a quarter.

The only thing the Tigers did wrong in the quarter, and perhaps the game, was they committed four penalties for 25 yards in the first 12 minutes, a fact not lost on their coach.

“We had a couple penalties early on that took some points off the board,” Stratford coach Jason Tubbs said. “But that’s part of the game. You can’t dwell on them. They’re usually not going to pick that flag up. Our guys are learning to keep working and grinding.”

Schwabe hit Breit again at the 10:11 mark of the second quarter with a five-yard scoring strike to make it 14-0.

Chase Flink broke several tackles less than four minutes later and scored on an 8-yard run to make it 21-0, which is what it was at the half.

But it was the Stratford defense that made one sit back and take notice. The Tigers stoned the Spencer lineman time and again, creating havoc in the Rockets’ backfield, giving their runners no chance and limited S/C to minus 22 yards in the first half and 36 overall for the game.

“They’re very good up front,” S/C coach Jason Gorst said. “They kind of overwhelmed us there at times. They did a lot of things well and we didn’t, so hats off to them. They are a very good football team. We’ve got a lot of film to look at now. We’re looking for consistency of effort. That’s a good litmus test, so we’ll get after it.”

Schwabe threw his third TD pass at 10:07 in the third quarter to Matt Handrick, a 19-yarder that made it 28-0.

Teddy Redman ripped off an 8-yard scamper to start the fourth and get the clock moving at 35-0, and Flink ran another in from 20 yards out to end the scoring at 41-0.

“We’ve got a lot of starters returning, and a bunch of seniors,” Tubbs said. “We’ve also got some juniors filling in too. Anytime you get Chase (Flink) and Teddy (Redman) getting wide, teams will have to prepare for the inside and the outside.”

Stratford continues its nonconference schedule with a game at Antigo, and Spencer/Columbus will open up Cloverbelt Conference play at Osseo-Fairchild next week. Both games are Friday, Aug. 30, and will start at 7 p.m.

Tigers 41, Rockets 0 Spencer/Columbus Catholic 0 0 0 0 – 0 Stratford 8 13 7 13 – 41 First Quarter ST – Vaughn Breit 16 pass from Max Schwabe (kick missed), 6:12 ST – Safety, 1:32 Second Quarter ST – Breit 5 pass from Schwabe (pass failed), 10:11 ST – Chase Flink 19 run (Colton Schillinger kick). Third Quarter ST – Matt Handrick 8 pass from Schwabe (Schillinger kick), 10:07. Fourth Quarter ST – Teddy Redman 8 run (Schillinger kick), 11:16. ST – Flink 20 run (kick missed), 7:44. Team Statistics First downs: Spencer/Columbus 3; Stratford 13. Rushing (att.-yards): S/C 36-31; ST 36-154. Passing (att.-comp.-yards-int): S/C 1-5-0-1; ST- 6-10-63-0. Total yards: S/C 31; ST 217. Fumbles (total-lost): S/C 2-2; ST 1-1. Penalties (no.-yards): S/C 2-10. ST 6-35. Individual Statistics Rushing: S/C, Eden Jacobson 12-19, Will Gorst 6-15, Gage Stratman 3-5, Austin Bacon 7-2, Hayden Bauman 5-minus 13. ST, Beau Gross 6-46, Redman 7-34, Flink 5-26, Kainoa Gouveia 4-19, Handrick 9-15, Schwabe 4-11. Passing: S/C, Stratman 1-5-0-1. ST, Schwabe 6-10-63-0. Receiving: S/C, Bauman 1-0. ST, Breit 3-27, Devin Denee 1-14, Handrick 1-19, Redman 1-7, Flink 1-minus 7. Records: Spencer/Columbus 0-1; Stratford 1-0.

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