BAKER — At some point, surely the adversity will come for Baker.
It didn't come in the first 10 games of the regular season, the Gators not even played to within a possession.
It didn't come in the opening round of the playoffs, when the Gators led Jay 42-0 before the half. The cushion was so large that with two minutes left in the first half, Baker sat on the ball inside the red zone, instead opting for the victory formation with 26 minutes left to play in the Region 1-1A semifinal matchup.
A better foe, 8-3 Chipley, enters Doug Griffith Stadium Friday night for a Region 1-1A finals matchup. Yet it's a foe that Baker beat 41-27 on the road earlier this season.
About that win, Baker cruised without its A game. Scratch that, it cruised without its B game.
"We could have played so much better," said tackles leader Zach Brown, a senior linebacker. "Every week we're getting better."
Echoed Brunson, "We can definitely improve over what we did the first time. We learned some things, they learned some things. But right now I feel like in every phase we're coming together and playing better football."
They're also coming together with the promise of home games all the way to the state title game in Orlando if they keep winning.
"It's such an advantage playing at home," Brown said. "I love the stadium and the atmosphere is great. I appreciate that we don't have to get on a bus and change up our routine. It's a great feeling to be a senior and get to play more games in front of the home crowd. And it's a great feeling to play so well in front of this crowd."
The Baker crowd really is the 12th man of this Gators crew, which is vying for a third straight Final Four trip.
Every first down, every tackle, every forced turnover, every touchdown ... everything is a big deal to this Gators faithful. Everything is met with screams, claps and applause.
"The guys feed off that," Brunson said. "We only had three home games, so for them to get this reception is well deserved."
Chipley enters Baker with a prolific rushing attack, Kelvin Dean Jr. coming in with 1,768 yards and 25 touchdowns for a backfield averaging 293 yards and four touchdowns a night.
But the Tigers are one-dimensional, quarterback Mason Cook completing just a shade over two passes a game for 24 yards to pair with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Dean had 141 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries against Baker earlier this year, but down late the Tigers were forced to go vertical. They failed.
Baker, meanwhile, possesses that balance with an aerial attack headlined by gunslinger Kalee Ciurleo and a ground game led by Junior McLaughlin and Jayson Moore.
Ciurleo has 20 touchdowns compared to just one interception and is completing 73 percent of his passes. In last week's win, the senior completed 9 of 11 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns — one a 46-yarder to Ethan Garrett and the other a 10-yarder to go-to wideout Derek Peoples.
Baker's bell cow is McLaughlin, who last week had 196 yards and two scores to give him 1,450 yards (914 rushing, 536 receiving) and 21 touchdowns on the season. Moore, meanwhile, delivered 79 rushing yards and two scores last week and has 609 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the season.
Defensively, Baker's peaking at the right time after the first string shut out Jay last week. But according to Brown, the best is yet to come.
"We’re playing as good as we’ve played all year, but we can play even better," he said.