Photo: Courtesy of Chris Koetting

The Canadian Wildcats engineered another deep playoff push in 2016, reaching the state semifinals before being eliminated by eventual Class 3A DII champ Gunter. With only seven returning starters, there was, and continues to be, much work to do to ensure the playoff streak continues into a 16th season. The Wildcats hold strong however with an undefeated record, capped off with last week’s 36-0 win against 4A Perryton.

TexasHSFootball.com recently talked with head coach Chris Koetting about how Canadian has reached a 3-0 record, how last week went, how this week’s most anticipated contest against Stratford will go, and what lies ahead for the young squad:

TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Canadian is riding an undefeated record so far this season. What do you think is key for a team to maintain a perfect mark?

CHRIS KOETTING: I think we had a lot of question marks going into this year. We only had one starter coming back on offense, we knew we were going to be inexperienced. But we’ve come up with some guys that’s been making some plays, that’s been encouraging. We still have a long ways to go, we’ve been a little sloppy offensively in the last two games. But we’ve been encouraged with what we’ve seen. Our defense has really been outstanding. We’ll need improvements offensively and to keep doing what we’ve been doing defensively to remain undefeated.

TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Last week’s game against Perryton looked good on the scoreboard, but was a closely fought game by all accounts. What are your thoughts on how last Friday went?

KOETTING: Give Perryton some credit, their defensive line was pretty good. We struggled a little bit running the football, I think that’s what caused us some problems offensively. We ended up throwing it a lot more than we wanted to. We had a lot of penalties, undisciplined play I felt like. But we’re a young team, and we’re going to have to work through some of that, and I think we’ll see some improvements on that. It’s important for us to consistently run the football, I think that’s key for us. Defensively we were outstanding last week, I think Perryton only had 40 yards of total offense.

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Koetting

TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: We’re entering the fourth week of the 2017 season. Teams are starting to get an idea of where they’re at right now, and what more needs to be done. What would you say is the team’s strong point at this moment?

KOETTING: Defensively, especially our defensive line has been really dominant so far. Offensively we lost pretty much all of our playmakers from last year, so we were curious who was going to step up and make some plays. We have a receiver, Matthew Lynch whose been over 100 yards each game. We have a new quarterback this year, Casen Cavalier, and he’s done a real good job of throwing the football.

TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: What would you point to as one thing you noticed from two-a-days that needed improvement, but has now come along quite nicely in these first three games?

KOETTING: A big deal for us is just learning how to be a great practice team. Our good teams that we had in the past, one common thing about all of those teams was that they were great practice teams. Our team has been pretty good at that, but we’re still not quite where we need to be. Once we get more focused we’re going to be pretty good.

TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: What have you noticed out of district opponents so far? Who would you say are the top teams right now you’ll be facing later on?

KOETTING: I think the team that’s really standing out right now to me is Childress. They beat a highly ranked 2A team in Wellington and had a good win against Iowa Park last week. They were really good last year, but they’re kinda like us where they lost a bunch of guys. But Coach [Jason] Sims does a great job over there, I know they’re going to be a really tough team to beat. Spearman’s done some things, Tulia’s a young team but they have a lot of players coming back. It’s been a pretty evenly matched district, but I think Childress has really rose to the top.

TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: This week is a big game for Canadian, traveling to Stratford to take on a former district rival; this matchup in the past usually determined a district champion. What do you know about Stratford, and how are you preparing for them?

KOETTING: This is the sixth time we’ve played them in the last three years. We’d play them in district, then we’d play them late in the playoffs again. Stratford is going to be well coached, and a tough team. If you’re not willing to play physical, you’re in for a long night. We gotta get their offense stopped and get ours on the field. We have great respect for Coach [Matt] Lovorn and the Stratford Elks, they’ve been good for a long, long time. They’ve won big in both their games, and they’re gonna be a formidable opponent for sure. It’s also a great atmosphere, it feels like a big game for sure.

 

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