CRESTVIEW — As the strengths of 2-0 St. Martin poured from his mouth, Tim Hatten paused for a moment.
The formidable backfield, the physical lines, the athletic defense ... Crestview's head coach has nothing but reverence for a 6A Mississippi program sporting a 62-12 point differential two weeks into the season.
"So maybe I didn't do such a good job of scheduling," Hatten quipped.
Eddie Whitehead, St. Martin's head man, is probably thinking the same thing.
Fresh off a district title and a Sweet 16 run last year, Crestview opened the season with a 37-2 wine over Bay at home. The victory had it all — a prolific ground game, a vertical aerial attack, a pick-six and even a kicker showing some range.
Simply put, Crestview is already in midseason form. And so is St. Martin.
The two hot teams will converge Friday night at Jack Foster Stadium, where Hatten will see a familiar face on the visitor's sideline. That face is Whitehead, who Hatten has known since 1982. Back then, Hatten was a Sumrall (Mississippi) High School graduate coaching summer league baseball and Whitehead was one of his players.
"I know a lot about them and their head coach," Hatten said of St. Martin. " They're physical, they run the ball really well, they're athletic and they're a good football team. They're a 6A team, the biggest class in Mississippi, so maybe I didn't do such a good job of scheduling."
The Bulldogs beat the Yellow Jackets 46-24 last year on the road. But Hatten sees a stronger foe this year on both sides of the ball.
Through two games the Yellow Jackets have rushed for 490 yards and seven touchdowns behind the two-headed backfield of Jovann Mcgee and Mileon Graham. Mcgee has found the end zone four times and is averaging 121 yards on 19 carries a game. Graham has scored twice and is averaging 119 yards on 20 carries per game.
Both have eclipsed the century mark in back-to-back 31-6 wins.
Last week Crestview's defense bottled up Milton's ground game, forced three interceptions and had a pick-six by Chris Johns en route to not allowing a score.
"We're just a little older, a little stronger, a little bigger and more accustomed to what we're doing," Hatten said of the defensive improvements from last year's Sweet 16 run.
Crestview's offense thrived as well last week, Rod Bouchard connecting with Keon Voisin and Terelle Holliday for touchdowns and Tyree Johnson and Rawson Mack adding rushing scores. Cody Traywick closed out the scoring with a 32-yard field goal.
"Rod really did a good job early on of executing and I was pleased with how the running game moved the ball," Hatten said.
Bouchard is day-to-day with an ankle injury, but Crestview has Jack Corbin available to start under center if Bouchard needs time to heal.
"He's a bit dinged up and we're not going to risk the whole season for one game," Hatten said of Bouchard's game status.