BLANCHARD — No opposing defense has been up to the task of stopping Blanchard running back Braden Stringer this season.
But with an iced-over field and freezing rain falling on Friday night, Stringer had to overcome two opponents — the weather and the Newcastle defense.
He conquered both.
The senior appeared to be the only player unfazed by the conditions, rushing for 231 yards and five touchdowns on 25 carries as top-ranked Blanchard cruised to a 41-0 victory over Newcastle in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.
“The conditions were really tough,” Stringer said. “But going against a rival like Newcastle, you've got to block out the pain and make it through the game. You can always rest and be warm after.”
The Lions put the game out of reach early, as Stringer rushed for three touchdowns and 107 yards in the first quarter to give Blanchard a 20-0 lead.
“Braden has such great balance and feet that these conditions really don't bother him as much as it does other players,” said Blanchard coach Jeff Craig. “Surprisingly, with this weather, we played pretty clean. We won the turnover battle, and in this stuff that's what you're trying to do.”
Blanchard's defense was stellar, holding Newcastle to 130 total yards and forcing five turnovers in what was one of its best performances of the season.