BAKER — Snook Christian likely sealed its fate the moment it stepped off the bus in Baker.
If not, the Eagles’ fate was decided on their first play from scrimmage.
Snook quarterback Raven Faiupu took the game’s first snap, dropped back and heaved the ball toward the left sideline, likely trying to catch the still undefeated Gators off guard. No one was fooled.
The ball landed in the hands of the leaping Derek Peoples and Baker was off and running in its 49-20 running clock victory against Snook on Friday night at Doug Griffith Memorial Stadium.
The coaching staff on the sideline was incredulous.
“I can’t believe they tried our best corner,” one said.
Peoples couldn’t believe it either.
“I back pedaled,” Peoples said. “I looked up. I saw him throw it. All I thought was coach was right, and I just went up and grabbed it.”
He said apparently the coaching staff had heard a rumor before the game that Snook (4-4) was going to come out throwing.
At Snook’s 49, it took Baker only four plays and 58 seconds to score. Long runs from Jalen Ciurelo and Junior McLaughlin set up Jayson Moore’s 9-yard score.
The game ended up so lopsided, Baker (8-0) elected to kick off at the beginning of both halves. Some starters played only two series, giving way to backups and JV call-ups, who had been placed on the team after wrapping up their season.
Peoples and Moore said they didn’t enjoy spending most of the second half on the sideline, but they were glad to see others get some playing time.
“I feel happy for ’em,” Moore said. “I was in that same position my sophomore year. I know what it feels like to get that first carry on varsity.”
Most players on the Gators’ roster likely know what that feels like after Friday night. Even third-string quarterback Joseph Brunson, Brunson’s son, took snaps.
“He had a few reps last week at Chipley,” Brunson said. “He had a few reps tonight. It’s gonna be fun to watch him play. I get to be a dad and a coach on the sideline. That’ll be cool.”
Brunson said getting most of those young players involved was the biggest take away from the blowout. The experience should help come playoff time.
The Gators entered Friday’s game as a projected second seed in the Region 1-1A playoff bracket despite beating top-ranked Chipley a week earlier. That likely changes with Walton upsetting the Tigers 48-34 Friday, virtually guaranteeing Baker home-field advantage through the first three games of playoffs.
“We would think that the point system would work itself out and that we would be the No. 1 seed in Region 1,” Brunson said. “Hopefully that does work itself out.”
After Peoples’s interception, Baker added four more touchdowns before the nine-minute mark in the second quarter, at which point the clock started to run.
First it was quarterback Kalee Ciurelo rolling out to his left and hitting Moore with a 5-yard touchdown pass. Then defensive tackle Carter Mason rumbled into the end zone on a scoop and score. Jalen Ciurelo added a touchdown with an 12-yard run. Finally, Kalee Ciurelo connected with Ethan Garrett on a slant pattern for an 18-yard score, putting the Gators ahead 35-0.
It took the Eagles, a first-year program, until their fifth drive to cross the 50. They did so on a Baker offsides penalty.
“I think they were an outmanned group,” Baker coach Matt Brunson said.
Bakers’ upcoming opponent, struggling Northview, has been put on notice headed into next Friday's home game at 7 p.m.
The Gators scored five offensive touchdowns and two — almost three if not for a questionable targeting call — defensive touchdowns.
Despite the dominant showing, Moore said he stills sees room to get better.
“I feel like we still need more improvement,” he said. “We’re still working. All we need to do is just get better. There’s always room for improvement.