BAKER — After three weeks pounding on each other, Baker School’s football team gets to hit someone else Thursday night.
The Gators will be at Chipley for the 6 p.m. spring game.
Baker coach Matt Brunson is quick to praise the home team.
"Chipley's got a very good program," he said. "They played for it all two years ago and were the state runner up. Coach Chip Harris is in there now and he's definitely got his fingerprint on that team.
"They are physical and they've got a big running back in Kobe McCrary, who is a very good — I'd almost say great — high school football player. We will have our hands full containing him."
Varsity backups will play the first quarter, followed by junior varsities in the second quarter and varsity starters in the second half, Brunson said.
The game is big for quarterbacks Jon Beck and Ben Crowson as they replace Adam Crowson, who is graduating.
"Both quarterbacks are going to play," Brunson said. "Both guys are going to be in game situations to get some experience under their belt. Both of them have had a great off season and I'm interested to see how they will do against a different team.
"Definitely, it will be a game-time performance to be able to evaluate them in game-like conditions."
The Gators also are replacing three starters on the offensive line, and Brunson likes what he has seen so far from that group.
"We had two returning starters on the offensive front, but our system is in place ... it starts in the weight room and the guys have stepped in," he said. "I'm telling you, we are going to be pretty good up front.
"We are trying to develop pad level up front and our guys have bought into our system. We are playing a style of offense where we would like to win the line of scrimmage and establish the run and throw off play action."
If the offensive line does its job, rising senior running back D.J. Thomas could have a big game against the Tigers. However, Brunson said he knows Thomas’ potential and wants to see what some of the other backs can do.
Brunson also is interested to see how some of the young Gator defensive players respond to their first live game action. The players have been put in a several scenarios in practice, but it's another thing to face those same situations in a game.
The team will get a couple of weeks off after the game and begin the off-season program when school gets out in June. The Gators will work out three days a week and with some 7-on-7 passing camps mixed into the routine.
Brunson is already gearing up for the fall.
"The guys in Baker, we've had some success the last two years, but they are hungry for post season play," he said. "I believe, with these guys' work ethic and the pieces of the puzzle that are coming together, we are going to get there."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.