Tigers hope to send coach off with another title

Tigers hope to send coach off with another title

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Tigers hope to send coach off with another title

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STRATFORD – Stratford Coach Cal Tackes is retiring at the end of this season, and both he and his players want to win one more state championship together.

It’s been a couple of years since the Tigers won their six consecutive Division 6 state titles.

“They would like to win a state championship and so would I,” Tackes said. “We have the ability to compete at that level and that’s the most important thing.”

Tackes, who also serves as the school’s athletic director, wants to hire his successor from his current football staff after the season ends. But right now he is focusing on coaching this year’s team that returns a plethora of talented players who are reciting “we will be great today.”

Winning another state championship would be a perfect ending to a season in which Stratford is celebrating its 50th year playing football.

Members from Stratford’s 1962 team will be in attendance at the Tigers’ first home game of the season against Phillips on Friday. Stratford will also unveil its new Hall of Fame that’s being built at Tigers Stadium.

Tackes is fortunate to have his stable of good running backs returning, including fullback Travis Urlaub who led the conference in rushing last season and was a first team all-conference selection.

Slot back Eli Temanson is a second-team all-conference performer who is quick, and Greg Belter is another steady running back. These three backs have the luxury of running behind second-team all-conference offensive lineman Austin Hoffman, an outstanding pulling guard.

“Running back is our deepest position as all our guys are very fast and athletic,” Tackes said. “We don’t have a big power running back, so our guys rely on their quickness and ability to read blocks. They won’t run anybody over but they have the agility to make people miss them, and they are all very good wide receivers out of the backfield.”

Drew Spaeth took over as quarterback last season after Nolan Bargender injured his leg against Edgar, and Spaeth will be Stratford’s signal caller this year while Bargender moves to tight end.

Tackes said that Spaeth let the older players lead him during his sophomore season, but this year Spaeth is demonstrating strong leadership skills.

At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Bargender gives Spaeth a large pass-catching target who is also a good blocker. Bargender also played tight end his sophomore season before being moved to starting quarterback at the beginning of last season.

Hunter Kauffman is a wide receiver who blocked well for the team last year and should see more balls thrown to him this season.

Bargender also will be switching positions on defense from cornerback to linebacker.

Tackes wants to utilize Urlaub’s speed at cornerback this season, and he is fortunate to have both his starting safeties returning in Belter and Temanson. Davis Drews is a hard-hitting linebacker.

“We have a lot of guys coming back on defense, but we gave up a lot of yards last season,” Tackes said. “We are going to be a very physical, quick and athletic team this season, but we just won’t be as big as we were last year.”

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