Canadian makes its 13 trip to the UIL state semifinals since 1998. [Photo by John Moore/ Press Pass Sports]
It’s only fitting that Canadian and Stratford are two of three Amarillo-area teams still standing heading into week 5 of the University Interscholastic League Texas High School Football playoffs.
Over the past two decades, both program’s have cemented their standing as blue blood’s when talking about the traditional powers at the small school level.
Come this weekend, Canadian and Stratford are making a combined 23rd appearance in a state semifinal since 1998.
This is the Wildcats 13th semifinal appearance since 1998, and a sixth straight since 2014.
The Elks make their second showing in a state semi in the in the last three years and a 10th since 2000.
“I think the most telling thing is how both teams have been consistent for so long,” said Chris Koetting, who is an impressive 128-16 in 10 years as Canadian’s head coach. “Usually you have a run of players that win and then it comes where you don’t win as much. But both teams have been winning for a longtime.”
File— The Elks will make their 10th state semifinal appearance since 2000. [David Erickson/ Press Pass Sports]
The two program’s have been the measuring stick when it comes to football in the Texas Panhandle. Combined, Canadian and Stratford boast seven state championships since 2000.
Stratford’s coming in 2000, 2005 and 2008, while Canadian’s came in 2007-2008, 2014-2015.
“Whenever you have special wins like those teams did back then it builds momentum just like a football game,” said Matt Lovorn, who is 56-13 in six years as Stratford’s head coach. “It becomes generational. The kids that were ball boys, and managers, see what the older guys did. They look up to them and grow up taking pride in carrying on that success. They expect to win.”
And though they’ve been great rivals on the field over the past 20 years, Canadian and Stratford carry a very healthy respect for one another’s programs, and both see the similarities that’s made them winners for so long.
“Just like Canadian, we’ve had a lot success for a longtime,” Lovorn said. “I think it’s the community support as much as anything. Our administrations have done a great job, and the community does a great job of sticking with our program and our players.”
Stratford (13-1) will take on Hamlin (12-2) in a Class 2A Division II semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday at Greg Sherwood Memorial Bulldogs Stadium in Plainview.
Canadian (14-0) faces a familiar foe in Gunter (13-1) for a fourth straight year in the Class 3A Division II semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday on Leo Brittain Field at Lions Stadium in Vernon.