STRATFORD, Texas (KFDA) - 16... and not one less. That’s how many games the Stratford Elks plan on playing this year. And if all goes right, that 16th game will earn the Big Blue its first state title since 2008.
“You know, the unique thing about this team is that they came to me, and said ‘coach, we’re gonna play 16 games this year and plan on it'," said head coach Matt Lovorn. “That type of thing, when the players come to you and tell you that, that’s the expectation, and so you try to prepare for practice and games every single week, like you’re gonna play 16 games in a season.”
But this isn’t just blind cockiness by a football team looking for more hardware to put on a shelf. They have the tools they need to go far everywhere you look.
“You know, right now we’ve got a really good core of offensive lineman," said Lovorn. "A lot of those guys are coming back this year and they’re working really well right now. Looking to have high hopes for our offensive line. The guy in the backfield, Iudin Romero, Brit McQuitty, those guys will be hauling the ball quite a bit. We’ve also got a good group of talent out there at receiver, Ty McBryde, Cody Rinne, catching a lot of passes for us.”
But as Lovorn stressed, the expectation for a 16 game season didn’t start with himself. It was a team decision to strive for that competitive elite status, to be the best of the best.
“We have a lot of goals this year,” senior running back Iudin Romero said. “Each day is to get better, each week is to win a game, then win districts, of course win every round of the playoffs, and hopefully get to States. That’s our goal right now.”
Romero had a strong campaign last year, utilizing the ground-and-pound game to perfection. He tallied 1,550 yards off 209 carries.
This earned him a role as the team’s captain for this year. His over-seven yards a rush and 26 touchdowns earned him a role as an elite running back, and his three scores and 235 yards off 16 receptions earned him the title of being a dangerous dual threat weapon.
Stratford kicks off their quest for a state title on Aug. 30 against Sunray on the road.