BAKER — A scrappy but talented Graceville High School football team hosts Baker on Friday as the Gators open the regular season.
Baker lost to Jay 14-0 in the Kickoff Classic, but Coach Matt Brunson is quick to put the preseason game with the Royals in the past as he focuses on the task at hand against the Tigers.
“Graceville is very athletic,” Brunson said. “They’ve got a guy, (Jared) Padgett, (6-4, 200 pound) that’s a quarterback/outside linebacker type that is supposed to be a top-five baseball first-round pick.
“They’ve got some speed on the corners. They are very athletic. We will have our hands full at their place.”
The Tigers might be everything Brunson said, but the one place Baker should have the upper hand is on the depth chart. Graceville only has 18 players listed on the roster, which should play into Baker’s favor on a late August evening in the heart of North Florida.
A year ago, D.J. Thomas ran for 205 yards and four touchdowns, leading Baker to a 42-27 win over Graceville.
Thomas has graduated, but junior linebacker/fullback Montae Barto believes the Gators will again be able to pound the ball against the Tigers.
“I know how good Austin Martin and Austin Davis are with the run,” Barto said. “We are going to be ready.
“(Friday against Jay) was just a warm-up. Graceville is going to be a good game. We have to compete like we did (Friday), but we have to do it all four quarters.”
Brunson downplayed the preseason loss to the Royals.
“We are going to fix the problems and get going,” he said. “I’m excited about this group. I’m ready to go over to Graceville.
“We are going to be full speed. It’s going to be a tough one.”
WHAT: High school football, Baker at Graceville
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Graceville High School