“Our skill players on defense have created a lot of turnovers this year ... if you make a mistake with the ball in the air, like most teams with talent in the secondary, they can make you pay.”
CRESTVIEW — Tim Hatten sets the bar at 35 points.
If a high school football team wants to win a game, the Crestview head coach said, 35 is the number it needs to get to.
“That’s not always the case, but I’m sure it’s in the 90th percentile,” Hatten said.
He knows what he is talking about. A trophy case sitting to the left of his desk with more than 30 years worth of mementos can attest.
A week ago it took 38 points to win. The team that scored 35 lost. Crestview ended Gulf Breeze’s playoff run in the first round, 38-35, to ensure the Bulldogs got the chance to play Escambia at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Jack Foster Stadium.
Against the Dolphins, Crestview’s Jaden Voisin intercepted Dylon Kelley over the middle two plays after another interception was ruled an incomplete pass. Voisin said Friday after the game, if he had another opportunity, he wasn’t going to let it get away.
He has a much larger opportunity awaiting against the Gators with a trip to the region finals on the line.
Voisin and his brothers, Keon and Devin, headline an impressive, ball-hawking secondary that averages almost two interceptions per game. Jaden and Keon each have three interceptions this season, as do D’marcus Purcell and Chris Johns.
“Our skill players on defense have created a lot of turnovers this year,” Hatten said. “Even (this past) Friday night, three picks by the Voisin family, I think all of ’em got a pick. And if you make a mistake with the ball in the air, like most teams with talent in the secondary, they can make you pay.”
The Bulldog secondary will have its hands full trying to contain a different sort of challenge this week compared to last. Behind running back Tyler Dittmer, whom Hatten called “arguably the best back in the panhandle,” Gulf Breeze was undeniably a run-first offense. Escambia likes to air it out a little more. With receiver Jacob Copeland, a Florida Gator commit and consensus four-star prospect, on the roster, it makes for an easy decision.
“Great player, probably the best football player in the panhandle,” Hatten said. “Big challenge for our defensive backs and our receivers when he’s playing defense. To go against a major Division-I player, as a competitor, you’ve got to like to play people like him. He’s a very talented kid, and I think our kids are looking forward to the challenge to see where they stand up next to that talent.”
Copeland’s stats are incomplete on MaxPreps, but through the five games listed, he averages almost 20 yards per catch and over 90 yards per game.
This Escambia team is the most talented team the Bulldogs have played all year, Hatten said Wednesday. On tape, they have few if any weaknesses, as do most teams that make it this part of the year.
In the postseason, no team is one-dimensional, which makes gameplanning about picking the lesser of two evils, Hatten said.
“I think you gotta kinda determine what side of the sword you’d rather face,” Hatten said. “Do you want ’em to run it? Do you want ’em to throw it? I think that’s what it comes to. It’s a chess match, and that’s what makes coaching football at the high school level so fun because you have philosophies on offense and defense and you match ’em up with your competitor every Friday night.
"It just makes our job a little bit tougher, but it’s gonna be interesting nonetheless to see what they want to do on offense, what we want to do on offense, and it’s just gonna be a great game, great Friday night football.”