BAKER — The pace will quicken for Baker School's varsity football team at 3 p.m. Monday, when the Gators take the field for the official start of fall practice.
Baker Coach Matt Brunson says his team is ready to hit the ground running.
“This team has worked hard, and we’ve conditioned harder than any team I’ve ever had,” he said. “I think this team, at this point, going into fall practice, is in the best shape of any team I’ve had. And it’s just a tribute to how hard these guys have worked and how hard they’ve conditioned.
“I feel great about it. The main thing is we’ve got to take care of business, get all our special teams in, lock down our defense, stay injury-free, and this should be a special group.”
The Gators will work the first three days in shorts and helmets before putting on the shoulder pads for the first time on Thursday. They will go in full pads for the first time on Aug. 11.
Brunson said he’s excited to see what the Gator offense will accomplish this year behind junior quarterback Jon Beck, who has a year and a half experience as starting quarterback
“Having Jon Beck back is a big plus because he fully understands the game,” Brunson said. “He’s a great competitor and he’s got some guys around him that are the same way.
“Our offensive guys are a joy to work with; you can tell those guys one time and they will understand it. We are going to be able to build on the things we’ve already gotten in, but it’s going to be a fun group to work with.”
Brunson knows that Baker — coming off a perfect regular season and district championship last year — will be a marked team this year.
“We have to get up and be ready to play every week because we did have a great year last year and we are going to have a bull’s eye on our back,” he said. “We were the district champion and we snuck up on Northview a little bit. Jay is getting better every year so we have to stay on our A game every week.
“But if we stay healthy, we’ll have a chance every Friday night to be successful.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.