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Stratford’s spring game gives the community a taste of football

The Stratford Spartans’ four weeks of spring football culminated in a spring game at Tully Stadium on the evening of May 12.

The game pitted full-time offense against full-time defense, with offense getting points for things like first downs and defense getting points for things like tackles for losses, forced turnovers, and forced punts. The offensive won in the end with 53:24.

“Oh, it’s a lot of fun,” junior quarterback Nash Rankin said of the spring game. “We did some practice here during the Spring Ball (Tully Stadium is across from Stratford High School) but it’s not like a real game atmosphere with a lot of fans in the stands.”

Last fall, Stratford started the season 9-0 and finished 10-2, including a 57-0 win over Westbury in the opening round of the playoffs.

“Our whole motto was go from good to great,” said coach Todd Rankin. “The entire program has taken many steps towards improvement. We were proud of the past year, but we are not satisfied. Our biggest goal and motivation during the offseason is how can we be good enough to beat these top level programs like Katy who knocked us out of the playoffs last year. How do we take that next step?”

After the defense forced a punt on the first drive of the game after two first downs, Nash Rankin hit junior wide receiver Triston Williams with a deep pass for 32 yards.

On the next move, Nash Rankin crawled 32 yards to the 4-yard line.

“The back was kind of split. I just saw a lead and took it. I just ran,” he described.

The defense came up with a goal-line stand and stopped four straight runs, with junior defenseman Hunter Jones coming through the offensive line to make the attack on the fourth and the goal from the three-yard line.

“We’re really excited, led by Hunter Jones,” said Todd Rankin. He had a tremendous spring. This is a guy who is just a workaholic every day, so that didn’t surprise me. Our defensive line really had a banner spring with some young players. We’re playing some freshmen right now (who will be sophomores in the fall) who are going to have a chance to get a lot of playing time, so that mix of D-Line talent is going to be pretty good for us next year.”

The first touchdown of the game came in the third quarter when Nash hit Rankin Williams in the back right corner of the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass.

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