BAKER — A line of thunderstorms delayed — but didn’t dampen — the Baker Gators’ ring ceremony festivities Friday.
The 90-minute delay shortened the scheduled Powder Puff games to 15-minute halves instead of their original 20 and caused the alumni flag football game to be canceled altogether.
However, considering many members of the coaching staff, including head football coach Matt Brunson, were members of past Baker state championship teams, not having to run on a wet field was a welcomed relief.
“We were glad the weather got out,” said Brunson. “We were able to continue with our activities and we ran a little bit long, but it’s okay. I thought everybody had a great time.”
The Powder Puff games were more intense than the following scrimmages, with the senior and sophomore classes facing off against each other in the final round — a rematch between the two classes from a year before when they were juniors and freshmen, respectively — with the sophomore class being the defending champions.
The senior class would come out victorious this year, however, with bragging rights and leaving Baker School on top of the Powder Puff rivalry.
All three of Baker’s football programs displayed their talents in the Maroon and White scrimmages with the Varsity, JV and Middle School teams lining up plays between their offenses and defenses.
The new Varsity team showed promise for next season, especially considering how many seniors on their defense will graduate in a matter of days.
“I think for the Gators the future is very bright,” said Brunson.
The JV and Middle School teams showed levels of play indicative of a K-12 football system — priming their players for the bigger stage in the coming years.
After the scrimmages, all players from Baker’s 14-0 season stood on the sidelines — with underclassmen still in their pads and jerseys and the seniors noticeably in street clothes — ready to receive their rings that were paid for by a donation from Cash Moore, who presented a check to the Gators for $10,200.
Principal Mike Martello, a Baker football alum himself, recalls memories of playing on the very field where his students received their new hardware.
“I can understand the excitement they get,” said Martello. “I’m really proud of these guys for all the hard work they put in. It’s a great feeling.”
With all of the celebration of the previous season, the Gators have more to look forward to as they prepare to play the Crestview Bulldogs on Thursday in what Coach Brunson has dubbed, “The War for the Wal-Mart,” where the winning team will have the bragging rights of wearing their school colors inside the retailer they share.
The upcoming game will be the first time in several years the two teams face each other, considering the size difference of both schools and teams.
Baker plays Thursday night at Crestview High School.