BAKER — Baker School’s football team started preseason practice Monday with high expectations for its third season under Matt Brunson’s direction. The Gators, winners of four state championships, are seeking their first playoff appearance since 2008 and their first playoff win since 2001.


BAKER — Baker School’s football team started preseason practice Monday with high expectations for its third season under Matt Brunson’s direction.



The Gators, winners of four state championships, are seeking their first playoff appearance since 2008 and their first playoff win since 2001.



Brunson and the Baker players are ready to see the dry spell end.



“We need to get back in post-season play,” Brunson said. “It’s been a while. We are definitely hungry to get a playoff berth and hopefully keeping it going.



“This group is working hard and I think we will be just fine.”



Senior tailback/linebacker D.J. Thomas said the team has a playoff team’s three characteristics.



“The focus is there along with toughness and discipline,” he said. “We have to come ready to play football every day.”



Monday afternoon’s dry weather was OK with Brunson.



“The weather was not bad,” he said. “The rain stayed away and the guys worked hard so I thought it was a great day.



“We spent the first hour in the weight room and they did a great job in there. And we spent the last 30 minutes conditioning and they did a great job in those periods. The rest of it will come along as long as they are working hard.”



The number of football players is at an all-time high for Baker, Brunson said. The Gators have 50 varsity players, 40 junior varsity players and 30 middle school players.



The large number is especially helpful for the Baker varsity as it gives the Gators enough players to practice with a full offense and a full defense.



Quarterback is a position that will receive a lot of scrutiny. Jon Beck and Ben Crowson are battling to get the starting nod to replace last year’s starter, Adam Crowson.



However, Brunson insists there’s no quarterback controversy at Baker.



“Both of those guys can come in and do some things,” he said. “Jon Beck is a very good passer and he’s young. “Ben Crowson is a very capable runner and we’ve got a lot of option stuff.



“We are going to use both of those guys.”



Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at randyd@crestviewbulletin.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.