Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stratford Meets Dawson Again

The Stratford High Spartans will meet Pearland Dawson High School at 2 p.m. Saturday at Abshier Stadium  in Deer Park for the Class 4A Division I Region III championship.

The two football teams, both ranked 11-2 for the season, met last year with Dawson prevailing in that playoff game. Last week, the Spartans held last year’s state runner-up, Georgetown, to only a field goal in a 7-3 win.

Spartan safety Zachary Miller told the Houston Chronicle that the team’s defense takes pride in not allowing opponents to score.

“I feel like we’re just starting to hit our stride,” he said. “District was obviously a test; the whole season was a huge test. But when you start playing playoff-caliber teams, that’s when you really feel like you’re getting tested."

“So we’re starting to hit our stride at the end of our season, and hopefully that peak will be in late December.”

Stratford has five seniors this year who were all-district defensive picks last year.

“Any time you have a little bit of experience, that helps. But there’s some talented kids over there, and it’s been fun,” Stratford High Coach Eliot Allen told the newspaper.

In separate football news, Memorial High made it into the third round of 5A UIL playoffs by beating Westside and Cy-Ridge high schools, and then losing 49-21 to Manvel High School on Nov. 30.

Stratford America: Booster Club Update:


Defense Dominant vs. Georgetown in 7-3 Win; Stratford Advances to Regional Finals vs. Pearland Dawson on Saturday

Texas high school playoff football in late November...if you're a football fan, it really doesn't get any better than that. Just ask anyone who attended Stratford's football game against the Georgetown Eagles this past weekend. In a classic game between two very good teams, the game was a throwback to days from the past. When it was over, Stratford had ousted last year's 4A D1 state runner-up on Saturday afternoon in Bryan, Texas by knocking off the Eagles, 7-3. Once again, the Spartan defense carried the day by allowing only a single field goal and making two key interceptions inside the red zone to scuttle Georgetown scoring threats. On offense, Terrance Peters and Rakeem Boyd carried the load as the Spartans amassed 251 yards on the ground and 308 total yards.

From the opening whistle, the game was going to be a dog fight. An opening kickoff return by Rakeem Boyd to the Eagle 48 yard line set the Spartans up in great field position but the Georgetown defense responded and forced a Stratford punt to the 15 yard line. The teams traded possessions but on the second series, Georgetown moved the ball to the Spartan 13 yard line. The Spartan defense held from there and when an Eagle field goal attempt missed wide, Stratford had dodged the first bullet of the game.

Stratford managed to move the chains on their next possession behind the running of Peters but once again, the drive stalled and the Spartans punted back to the Eagles. Jujuan West, Jonathon LaBaume and Zachary Miller all stepped up with nice tackles on the next defensive series but a Georgetown punt pinned the Spartans deep in their own end of the field at the 5 yard line.

Much of the first half was like a chess match, with field position at a premium. Both teams managed to move the ball but each defense responded accordingly. As the second quarter began, the Spartans were forced with 4th and 3 from midfield and attempted a fake punt. The Eagles were not fooled and took over in great field position but once again, the Spartan defense responded. Nice tackles by Aidan Goembel and LaBaume and a third down pass break up by Greg Lee sent Georgetown to another 3 and out.

The teams traded possessions once again but the Eagles would make a run before halftime moving the ball into the Spartan red zone. That's when Zachary Miller tallied his first interception of the day at the Spartan 5 yard line to kill the Eagle drive and Georgetown had come away empty again. The two teams went into halftime in a scoreless tie.

Tyler Frost's kickoff to begin the third quarter sailed well through the end zone and the Eagles set up shop to begin the second half. Jay Harper, Mikal Pruitt and Lee led the defense on the next series but another Eagle punt rolled to the Spartan 2 yard line and once again, Stratford began their drive deep in their own territory.

Peters gave the Spartans some breathing room with three carries for 23 yards and then Freddy Price found Will Bredthauer down the visitor's sideline for a gain of 30 yards to midfield. After a Price to Jack Brice reception moved the chains, the drive broke down but the Spartans had managed to flip the field position. Gary Casatelli led the defensive effort but the Eagles hit a huge play when Georgetown QB Ben Bottlinger found wide receiver Ben Nunez for a big gain to the Spartan 30 yard line. Once again, the Eagles moved the ball inside the red zone but Jujuan West snagged the second interception of the afternoon on a deflected pass and Stratford had the ball back on the 2 yard line with a 98 yard field in front of them.

And the drive began. Rakeem Boyd picked up a huge first down on 3rd and 3 to move the chains to the 12 yard line and then broke off a 30 yard gain to get the Spartans out of potential trouble. The Spartans moved the ball into Georgetown territory but a holding call sent Stratford into a 3rd and 15. Expecting a pass, Stratford instead called a delayed draw play to Peters who broke off the run of the game for a 35 yard gain and a Stratford first down. Boyd then ripped off another 20 yard run to the Eagle 5 yard line and on the next play, found the end zone for the game's first score. Frost added the extra point and Stratford had grabbed the 7-0 lead with 10:43 to go in the 4th quarter.

But the Eagles quickly responded. Georgetown moved the ball into Spartan territory on their next series but the Stratford defense held at the 15 yard line and on 4th and 10, the Eagles got on the board with a 32 yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3. Peters stepped up on the next series to move the ball into Eagle territory but a penalty and loss of yardage play turned a 3rd and 1 into 4th and long. Michael Milstead then calmly stepped up on the next play and booted a beautiful punt down to the Eagle 5 yard line to pin Georgetown deep in their own territory.

With less than 2 minutes to play, the Eagles were in desperation mode. On first down, LaBaume de-cleated an Eagle back with a perfect form tackle for a gain of only one. On second down, Harper's rush caused Bottlinger to have to step up in pocket and Pruitt and West had the sack for a loss of 3 yard. Greg Lee's pass break up on 3rd down stopped the clock for the Eagles and then faced with a 4th and long from with just over a minute to play, Miller picked off the third Georgetown pass of the day to seal the game.

LaBaume (8 unassisted tackles), Miller (6 unassisted tackles, 3 assisted tackles and 2 interceptions) and West (6 unassisted tackles, 2 assisted tackles and 1 interception) led the stout Spartan defensive effort. Casatelli (4-0), Christian Osso (4-1), Pruitt (3-2), Harper (2-2), Goembel (2-2), Luis Lerma (2-0), Alex Miller (2-1), Bryce Stevenson (3-0), Lee (1-2 and 2 pass break ups) and Quentin Andreau (3-0) all had great games as well.

Peters finished the game with 136 yards on 21 carries and Boyd added 99 yards on 19 carries against a very physical Georgetown defense. Price finished 4 of 10 for 57 yards completing passes to Bredthauer (3/47) and Brice (1/10).

The Spartans advance to the state quarterfinal round where they look to avenge last year's playoff loss against Pearland Dawson. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, December 7th at 2pm at Abshier Stadium in Deer Park. This is the furthest the Spartan football team has gone in the playoffs since the late 1980's so please make the short drive over to Deer Park to support the boys.

Photographs taken by Communications Intern Kali Venable


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