CRESTVIEW — It's Friday night or never if Crestview High School’s football team wants a chance to make the state playoffs when the Bulldogs travel to Niceville for a District 1-7A showdown with the Eagles.
Game time is 7 p.m.
The Eagles (8-0, 1-0) are flying high and are No. 6 in this week's Associated Press Class 7A state poll.
Even if the Bulldogs can ground the Eagles, which would be the first win over Niceville in more than 30 years, Crestview (3-5, 0-1) still wouldn't be assured a spot in the playoffs.
A Bulldog win would force a shootout between Crestview, Niceville and Tate, which would be played at 7 p.m. Monday at Niceville.
"That's what we are talking about," Bulldog Coach Tim Hatten said. "If we win, we are back in it (playoff contention) and we've got a shot.
"That's all we are worried about is a shot to play in the post season. If we win, we will take our chances — and whatever scenario plays out, we will worry about that later."
Crestview is coming off an open date that Hatten used to try to firm up some fundamentals.
"We are always going to have opportunities (for big plays) because of what we do," he said. "People are going to be running open and we have to find those people and find a way to get it to them.
"We have to find a way to relay that information to our quarterback and for our quarterback to get the play on the field and for us to be where we need to be. We just have to hold the course and keep on doing what we are doing. We've made progress in a lot of areas and we just need to continue to progress."
Hatten was pressed to find many weaknesses when assessing the Eagles.
"They are playing extremely good football," he said. "They are a very well coached bunch. They don't make a bunch of mistakes.
"They are just solid. They are solid in their responsibilities on defense and offense. They have built a program that has had some continuity; and when you turn the tape on, you can tell that they have been doing the same things over and over for years and they have been coached by the same people."
Niceville runs a spread offense very much like Crestview's. The Eagles run out a base four-man front on defense, but will jump into a five-man front and mix up coverage.
"We just have to make sure we go in there and we are solid in every phase of the game," Hatten said. "We can't hang our heads if they make a big play. We have to keep pushing forward.
"We can't rest on any success that we might have. We have to play team football for 48 minutes. We have to tackle well, we cannot allow the big play and we can't turn the ball over."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.
WANT TO GO?
What: Crestview at Niceville
When: 7 p.m. Friday