BAKER — When attempting to continue a 14-game winning streak, having a realignment of the playoff structure presents its own set of challenges.
With the Baker Gators being in FHSAA Class 1-A, they’ll have to take a different road to Orlando than the previous season because the concept of districts no longer exists for small schools.
The new scheduling system puts an emphasis on strength of schedule using a points system, rewarding teams that defeat winning opponents.
Add to the new system the fact that the Baker Gators only have three home games and graduated 19 seniors last year, the defending state finalists have their work cut out for them.
Coach Matt Brunson says that the number of graduating seniors roughly remains the same every year.
“Every year we have kids that step up,” said Brunson, who pointed out how last year’s seniors developed into their positions.
However, even with so much turnaround, the Gators have many skill players returning, including the Ciurleo brothers with their triple-threat option in the backfield.
“We’ve got a bigger, faster, stronger version of the guys who played last year,” said Brunson.
It helps that many of these players have been working together since middle school, an advantage of being in a K-12 community.
The Junior Varsity has remained undefeated for several seasons, showing how effectively their conditioned at the middle school level.
The Swamp will have to wait for its first home game until Sept. 8.