The Stratford Tigers remained undefeated and unscored upon with a 35-0 win over the Northwestern High School Tigers in a WIAA Division 5 quarterfinal game Friday, Nov. 8, at Gordon L. Nelson Field in Maple.
Stratford (12-0), which allowed less than 300 yards all season, held the Tigers to 96 yards, including 32 rushing.
On offense, the visiting Tigers, behind an offensive line that includes Ben Barten (6-foot-6, 270 pounds), Easton Kilty (6-5, 283) and Dalton Schoenherr (6-4, 290), methodically piled up 372 yards, including 284 rushing on 51 carries..
Beau Gross scored four of Stratford’s five touchdowns, rushing for three and catching a 21-yard pass from Max Schwabe.
Devin Dennee put the game into running time with a 1-yard TD run 1:16 into the fourth quarter.
“Overall, that team was the best team I have ever coached against,” NHS coach Jovin Kroll said. “They were just incredible up front, those athletes deserve all the praise and accolades they will receive, and their future in the Big Ten or in other Division I programs is very bright.
“The bottom line is that they beat us. As I break down the film, I can't find a lot of what-ifs aside from our opening drive. Our opponent did an excellent job of controlling the ball in the first half, pinning us deep in our own end going into the wind in the second and third quarters, and keeping us down there.”
Stratford will now play Amherst (12-0) in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 15. Amherst advanced with a 24-19 win over Chilton. Stratford is ranked No. 1 and Amherst No. 2.
Northwestern’s season ends with an 11-1 record for the second straight year.
“Our players can be proud of a second straight undefeated regular season and state quarterfinal appearance,” Kroll said. “My guess is that we will have another playoff loss against a team that makes the state finals, and I fully expect that Stratford team to take home a state championship.”
Each team only had three possessions each in the first half. Unfortunately for Northwestern, Stratford scored on two of them for a 13-0 halftime lead.
Stratford took the opening kick and put together a 15-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Gross plowing up the middle from 3 yards out.
Northwestern stopped Stratford's two-point attempt, making the score 6-0 with 4:27 left in the first quarter.
On Northwestern's first chance with the ball, the local Tigers used a mix of running and passing and moved the ball 49 yards to Stratford's 14.
But on the first play of the second quarter, Teddy Redman intercepted a Jake Brill pass at the goalline.
Stratford took over at its own 5 and moved the ball 70 yards in 15 plays to Northwestern's 18.
Stratford was called for holding and then completed a screen pass. But Northwestern's Noah Swanson caught the receiver from behind, knocked the ball loose, and Isaac Nichols scooped up the loose ball at the 5 with 3:30 left in the first half.
Northwestern was only able to gain 4 yards and punted the ball away.
Three plays later Gross broke a tackle near the 15 on his way to a 19-yard TD.
Leonardo' Franzese's kick gave Stratford a 13-0 lead with 1:26 left in the first half.
Northwestern had the ball four times in the third quarter, but were limited to 13 plays. The only bright spot for the local Tigers was a 14-yard first-down run by Colin Trautt.
Stratford, meanwhile, got two more TDs from Gross, an 8-yard run and a 21-yard pass from Schwabe.
Stratford put the game into running time on Dennee's 1-yard run 1:16 into the fourth quarter.
Northwestern's best drive was its last with Brill passes of 11 yards to Trautt and 16 to Harrison Nelson. But a loss of 2 yards, a couple of incomplete passes and a sack by Stratford's Vaughn Breit put an end of any chances of scoring the first points of the season on Stratford's defense.
Stratford was in the progress of running out the clock when Northwestern’s Greg Ohman recovered a fumble with 32 seconds remaining.